The Brown Elfin and all other elfins lack tails. On the upperside of the wings, BC elfins are very similar. The underside of the wings provides the only good species distinguishing characteristics. The underside of the Brown Elfin is a fairly uniform chocolate brown with typical elfin median and postmedian pattern. Since the publication of The Butterflies of Canada, we have located more populations of this species in central BC, south of Pine Pass to Clinton. There do not seem to be any intermediate specimens between the populations of the Brown Elfin and the Western Elfin. The two are allopatric, with closely adjacent populations, and appear to be another western/boreaI species pair. Thus we re-elevate the Western Elfin, I. iroides, to species status. The Brown Elfin underside ground colour is chocolate brown, while that of the Western Elfin is reddish brown.
Cook (1906) described the immature stages from New York. The egg is laid at the base of or in the flower buds. It is green when first laid but quickly changes colour as the larva develops. The egg hatches within five days. The larva feeds on the flower and developing fruit. The entire development from egg to pupa takes one month, from mid-May to mid-June. Pupation occurs on the ground among dead plant material. The pupa remains dormant until the following spring.
BC populations are the nominate subspecies (TL: 54° lat. [near Cumberland House, MB]).
The name Incisalia is of unknown derivation. The common name "elfins" refers to their small size and flight habits that make them seem to magically appear and disappear. It was first used for the genus by Scudder (1875).
Species of the genus Incisalia lack tails on the hindwing and green colouring on the ventral hindwings. The tips of the valves are "capped," meaning that they have a terminal thickening not found in the genera Callophrys, Mitoura, or Loranthomitoura. The cornuti are neither slender nor spatulate. This is a Nearctic genus, with nine species. Six species occur in BC.
The Brown Elfin flies from late April to mid-June. Cook (1906) demonstrated that Brown Elfin larvae feed on Vaccinium sp. Ziegler (1953) reared the Brown Elfin on Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. Arctostaphylos is the most likely BC foodplant.
The Brown Elfin is known from the Central Interior of BC. Since little collecting has been done in northern BC during the species flight period in early spring, the species will likely be recorded across central and northern BC, east of the coastal mountains.
The Brown Elfin ranges from YT and central BC east to NF. In the east it is found south to the southern shores of the Great Lakes and in the Appalachians south to GA.
Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC:
Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab
for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British
Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed:
2021-12-04 5:39:49 PM]
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