Callophrys [Incisalia] eryphon
Western Pine Elfin

Family Description:

The caterpillar is dark green and striped lengthwise with yellowish white lines. It has an average, full-grown length of approximately 3/4 inch.
Adult: The butterfly is small, with a wingspan of 3/4 to 1 3/8 inches. It is brown to reddish brown on the upperside. Underneath, the forewing is tan and marked with two dark bars on the interior of the wing, an uneven, brown and white line down the center, and a line of black ">"-shaped marks just in from the edge. The hindwing is grayish brown and heavily marked with jagged black and dark brown lines. There is a curved row of black ">"-shaped marks just in from the edge. The fringes of the wings have a checkered appearance.

This species ranges from British Columbia and Alberta south through the western third of the U.S., and from northern Saskatchewan east and south to Maine. It occurs through most of Idaho.

It occurs, as its name implies, in and near evergreen forests.

Caterpillars feed on the new needles and male cones of pines (Pinus spp.), western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), and western red cedar (Thuja plicata).

Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar.

Caterpillars bore into the bases of needles and male cones. There is one generation of caterpillars each summer. Each undergoes four stages of growth, called instars. The caterpillar is equipped with a honey gland, also known as a dorsal nectary organ, which emits a sugary solution agreeable to ants. The ants feed on the solution and in turn protect the caterpillar from predators. Pupae overwinter in a physiological state called diapause; adult butterflies emerge in the spring. They generally fly from April to mid-July, and occasionally can be seen until September.

Males perch to wait for receptive females. Females lay white eggs singly at the base of needles.

Idaho Status: Unprotected nongame species.
Global Rank: G5
populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.

Ballmer, G. R. and G. F. Pratt. 1988. A survey of the last instar larvae of the Lycaenidae of California. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 27:1-81.

Ferris, C. D. and F. M. Brown. (eds.) 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. Univ. of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, USA, 442 pp.

Opler, P. A., H. Pavulaan, and R. E. Stanford. 1995. Butterflies of North America. Jamestown, North Dakota, USA: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Home Page. (Version 05Nov98).

Opler, P. A. and A. B.Wright. 1999. A Field Guide to the Western Butterflies.   Second Edition.  Peterson Field Guide Series. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, New York, USA, 540 pp.

Pyle, R. M. 1981. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, New York, USA, 924 pp.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, USA, 583 pp.

Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western U.S.A. Butterflies (Including Adjacent Parts of Canada and Mexico). Published by authors, Denver, Colorado, USA, 275 pp.