Johnson's Hairstreak (Callophrys johnsoni) (Skinner, 1904)

Diagnosis: This is a slightly larger-than-average (wingspan: 25 to 30 mm) western hairstreak that just makes it into southern British Columbia. The upperside is chocolate brown in the male and reddish brown in the female. The underside is brown with a thin white postmedian band.

Range: Found from central California in a relatively narrow band north to British Columbia, it has been recorded mainly in the vicinity of Vancouver and Agassiz. At present, only four extant colonies are known, three in the Vancouver area (Stanley Park, Lynn Canyon Park, and Pacific Spirit Park) and one near Agassiz (UBC Haney Research Forest) (Guppy et al., 1994).

Similar Species: The underside is similar to the Thicket Hairstreak (C. spinetorum), but the upperside has no blue. Rosner's Hairstreak and Barry's Hairstreak (C. rosneri and C. barryi) have a greyish-violet cast to the hindwing below, not a rich brown as in johnsoni, and the upper surface of the forewing has a contrasting dark brown border, whereas in johnsoni the wings become darker gradually towards the margin. [compare images]

Early Stages: The larva is almost indistinguishable from the Thicket Hairstreak (Scott, 1986). It has only been recorded feeding on Western Dwarf Mistletoe (Arceuthobium campylopodum) a parasite on Western Hemlock.

Abundance: Johnson's Hairstreak is considered quite local and rare throughout its limited range and is listed as endangered in British Columbia (Guppy et al., 1994).

Flight Season: It has been reported in May in British Columbia, but it flies into June and July farther south.

Habits: Because this butterfly is rarely seen, it is speculated that it probably flies high up in the evergreens where the foodplant grows (Pyle, 1981). It is usually found near dense forests with Western Hemlock, but strays into the open to find flowers.

Remarks: Although normally rarely seen, there have been occasions in California when immense numbers appeared for a short period of time (Pyle, 1981).

© 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.