Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici) (Grote & Robinson, 1867)

Diagnosis: This is an average-sized elfin (wingspan: 20 to 25 mm) and has a stubby hindwing tail. It is the only Canadian elfin in which the male does not have a forewing scent pad. The basal half of the underside of both wings is darker than the outer half and the line between the two areas is almost straight on the forewing, and marked with dark brown and white. The outer half of the hindwing below is a colourful mixture of reddish brown, yellow brown, and grey patches.

Subspecies: Only the nominate subspecies is found in Canada.

Range: Although widespread in much of eastern North America, it tends to have a sporadic distribution. In Canada it occurs in southern Nova Scotia north to Halifax, in two locations in New Brunswick, in Quebec in the St. Lawrence and Ottawa River Valleys, and through much of southern Ontario. There are three records in northern Ontario north of Lake Superior, and three in Manitoba, at Sandilands Provincial Park, Richer and a recent record from Winnipeg.

Similar Species: The Frosted Elfin (C. irus). [compare images]

Early Stages: The light green larvae have a lighter green dorsal line and oblique lateral stripes of the same colour. They change abruptly to a reddish-brown colour a few days before pupating. The young larvae bore into the flower buds and young fruits of the foodplants, blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), plums (Prunus spp.), and, at least at Ottawa, Black Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula, Rhamnaceae). They are very sluggish, moving no more than a few centimetres until just before pupation, when they descend the tree and pupate on the underside of leaves in the leaf-litter.

Abundance: Henry's Elfin is very local and often difficult to find. It is usually less numerous than the other springtime elfins with which it often flies.

Flight Season: It is on the wing from early May to early June in Canada.

Habits: This butterfly is usually encountered in open deciduous woods, but can be found less frequently in other habitats such as dry, open pine woods. It regularly sips moisture at wet earth and sand and perches on dry twigs close to the ground.

Remarks: The adaptation to Black Buckthorn has enabled Henry's Elfin to colonize small woodlots in urban areas and in wet, previously unsuitable, wooded habitats where this invasive alien shrub is found (Layberry, 1988). This foodplant switch, in eastern Canada and New England, is coinciding withan increase in abundance.

© 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.