E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Callophrys eryphon sheltonensis Scudder, 1872
Elfins; Western Pine Elfin
Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer Wings)
Species account authors: Crispin Guppy and Jon Shepard.
Extracted from Butterflies of British Columbia
The Families of Lepidoptera of BC
Introduction to the Butterflies of BC

Photo of species

© Jeremy Gatten  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #6097)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Callophrys eryphon sheltonensis in British Columbia
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Species Information


The Western Pine Elfin is slightly larger than other elfin species. The pattern of the ventral hindwing is very distinctive. The submarginal area is a row of connected black chevrons accented by a contiguous lateral row of tawny chevrons.

Immature Stages

Hardy (1959a) described the BC immatures. The egg is 0.75 mm x 0.50 mm, and thus not as flat as the egg of Moss' Elfin. The mature larva has a brown head and rich velvet green body with two cream white stripes on each side. The body is overlaid with fine brown hairs.


Most BC populations are the nominate subspecies, I.e. eryphon (Boisduval, 1852); TL: Hwy. 70 at Soda Creek, Plumas Co., CA (Emmel et al. 1998a). Vancouver Island and Lower Fraser Valley populations are I.e. sheltonensis Chermock & Frechin, 1948 (TL: Shelton [near Olympia], WA)

Genus Description

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.


Most individuals are seen flying from early May to early June. In anyone season, the Western Pine Elfin emerges later than other Incisalia species. Adults take nectar from Salix prolixa. Eggs laid on 24 May at the base of needles of the larval foodplant, Pinus contorta, hatched on 1 June (Hardy 1959a). Young larvae fed on the base of the pine needles, eating through the needle, which dropped off. Later instars fed on the surface of needles. By 20 July the larvae were mature and pupated in the lab among debris at the bottom of the breeding cage. The adults emerged on 26-28 March the following year. The Forest Insect Survey has also reared the Western Pine Elfin from P. ponderosa and P. monticola.


The Western Pine Elfin is found from the Nass River and Fort Nelson, south throughout BC in mature pine stands.



The Western Pine Elfin occurs from central BC south to southern CA and NM. Since Klots (1951) did not recognize this species in eastern North America, it may have invaded east to NB and New England in historic times.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS3BlueNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

General References

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: 2024-07-25 5:47:25 AM]
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