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Brown Elfin (Callophrys augustinus)

Description: A small brown butterfly, the Brown Elfin is dark grey brown on the upperside. The forewing is brown on the underside with a black transverse line. The underside of the hindwing is distinctly two-toned, the basal half is dark chestnut brown, the distal half is reddish-brown with a transverse row of small black spots. Wingspan: 19 to 26 mm.

Maritime Distribution: Throughout the Maritimes. For Atlas results click here.

Provincial Ranks: NB: S5. NS: S5. PEI: S4.

Flight Period: Early May to late June.

Host Plant: A variety of plants, mostly in the heath family (Ericaceae), including blueberries, (Vaccinium spp.) Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), and Labrador Tea (Ledum groenlandicum).

Subspecies: In the Maritimes two subspecies of Brown Elfin occur. Subspecies helenae occurs on Cape Breton (as well as Newfoundland), while subspecies augustinus is found throughout eastern Canada.

Notes: Our most common and widespread elfin species, the Brown Elfin is often found in good numbers in the correct habitat. It favors a variety of habitats, from small clearings in coniferous forest to open bogs and barrens where the larval host plants grow. It is often found with other elfin species, and is most often seen perched on open ground and vegetation. The early flight period, small size and dark coloring make all elfin species difficult to observe.