Bog Elfin (Callophrys lanoraieensis) (Sheppard, 1934)

Diagnosis: This smallest (wingspan: 16 to 19 mm) of Canadian elfins looks like a diminutive Eastern Pine Elfin (C. niphon). It is tailless and dull brown above. Its small size and smudged underside pattern are distinctive.

Range: The Bog Elfin has one of the most restricted ranges of eastern North American butterflies. In Canada, it is found in a number of bogs in southern Quebec, but is so far known from only four locations each in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and only from Alfred Bog and two other bogs near Newington, in eastern Ontario. It occurs in many bogs in Maine, but is very rare in New York and Massachusetts.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: The Eastern Pine Elfin (C. niphon). [compare images]

Early Stages: The tiny larva is green with a wide white stripe along the sides. In the early instars it burrows in the needles of its foodplant, Black Spruce (Picea mariana).

Description of this image follows
Bog Elfin (Callophrys lanoraieensis).
Alfred Bog, Ont.
J.T. Fowler

Abundance: Usually considered rare even in its chosen habitat, it can be numerous in some years in some bogs; in 1992 it was common in Alfred Bog and was seen in greater numbers and in more areas of the bog than in previous years.

Habits: In most of its range, it is restricted to spruce-tamarack bogs. Even there, it is often in the most inaccessible parts of the bog, usually where there is some open water and scattered stands of stunted Black Spruce. Because of its small size, swift flight, its habit of perching for a long time on vegetation,and because it flies with the larger, brighter, and much more numerous Brown Elfin, it is easily overlooked. At one location in Nova Scotia, it is found in a drier area of open White Pine forest quite unlike its usual habitat; however, there are scattered clumps of Black Spruce among the pines (Reginald Webster, pers. comm.).

Remarks: This butterfly was first found in, and described from, the large Lanoraie Bog east of Montreal. The authors suspected it might be found in Alfred Bog, 120 km to the west, because this bog is so similar to the bog at Lanoraie. An intensive search in 1982 revealed a colony in a series of small lens-like clearings in the middle of Alfred Bog.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.