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Species Page - Callophrys mossii
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scientific name    Callophrys mossii    

common name     Moss's Elfin

In Alberta, it has only been found on Windsor Mountain (Bird et al., 1995).

Adults fly in May and June (Bird et al., 1995).

This small butterfly with a wingspan of 22-28 mm is difficult to detect by butterfly observers. Dorsal wing of the male is greyish brown with a tan patch on the inner margin of the hindwing. The dorsal wing of the female is light brown to tan with dark borders. The ventral side of the wing is coppery brown to purplish brown; the inner half of the hindwing is darker than the outer half. It can be distinguished from the similar Callophrys polios by the presence of red brown ventral hindwing, and lighter grey distal area that are separated from each other by a grey line. The egg is pale pastel green and has a sculptured surface (Guppy & Shepard, 2001). Mature larvae are greenish yellow, they are covered in short brown hair and may have white-edged dorsal stripes (Guppy & Shepard, 2001). Pupae are pale yellow but become dark, chocolate brown with a pale dorsal line. It also has a double rows of small fuscous dots on each side, with white spiracles (Guppy & Shepard, 2001).

life history
Pupae overwinter on the ground, in or amongst the organic matter (Opler et al., 1995; Guppy & Shepard, 2001). In California, males perch on shrubs or at tops of cliffs to watch for females; in Colorado, they perch in gulches. Females lay eggs singly on the underside of host plant leaves (Opler et al., 1995) or at the base of the larval host plant (Guppy & Shepard, 2001). Larvae have a dorsal nectary organ that provides a sugary substance for ants, that in turn protect larvae from predators (Idaho Museum of Natural History 2000).

Rare; provincial rank S1 and "Status Undetermined" because of few records.

diet info
Unknown for Alberta. Larvae feed on Sedum spathulifolium in coastal British Columbia. Guppy & Shepard (2001) speculate that they feed on S. lanceolatum in interior BC. In the United States they also feed on leaves, flowers, and fruits of Stonecrop species (Sedum sp., Sedella sp., Dudleya sp., and Parvisedum sp.) (Idaho Museum of Natural History 2000). Young larvae feed on leaves; older larvae feed on flowers and fruits. There are no reports for adult food sources.

It is found in patchy, isolated populations from British Columbia south to southern California and east to Wyoming and Colorado (Guppy & Shepard, 2001).

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