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Frosted Elfin Butterfly - Callophrys irus



 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Arthropoda
 Class: Insecta
 Order: Lepidoptera
 Family: Lycaenidae
 Genus: Callophrys
NH Fish and Game - NH Status: Endangered in NH Endangered


Frosted ElfinThe male frosted elfin butterfly has gray-brown upper wings. The female is a reddish brown color on her upper wings. The frosted elfin gets its name from the gray scales that edge its hind wings and give its wings a frosted look. It has a wingspan of about one inch. It has a stubby tail with a black spot at the base. The larvae are a light blue-green and have white lines down their backs.


mapThe frosted elfin butterfly is found in scattered local communities from Maine west across New York and southern Michigan to central Wisconsin; south along the Atlantic coast and the Appalachians to northern Alabama and Georgia. There are isolated colonies in eastern Texas, northwest Louisiana, and southwest Arkansas. The frosted elfin butterfly is endangered in New Hampshire.


The frosted elfin butterfly is found in oak savannah and pine barren habitats and open woods and forest edges with wild blue lupine.


The caterpillar of the frosted elfin butterfly eats wild blue lupine, but some populations of the caterpillar also eats wild indigo, blue false indigo, and rattlebox. Adult frosted elfin butterflies eat the nectar of a variety of flowers.


The frosted elfin female lays her eggs in the spring on the flower buds of a host plant, usually wild lupine or false indigo. The chrysalis weaves a cocoon and ` in leaf litter under the host plant. The caterpillars eat the flowers and seedpods of the host plant.


The frosted elfin is a poor flier. This, along with its dependence on lupine, may explain why its populations are isolated and scattered.