Butterflies and Moths of Southern Vancouver Island--Jeremy B. Tatum



Incisalia iroides



The genera Callophrys (green hairstreaks), Incisalia (elfins) and Mitoura (brown hairstreaks) have been the subject of intense taxonomic study in recent years, with frequent changes in scientific and English names. While the three genera seem to be fairly distinct here, when world species are taken into account the distinctions between them appear more blurred. That is probably why some authors prefer to regard them as distinct genera, while others prefer to lump them all under Callophrys. There has also been variation in the spelling of augustinus or augustus, so that variations from Incisalia augustus to Callophrys augustinus are to be found in the literature. Regardless of the current scientific name, the English name has usually been given as Brown Elfin (I have also seen Salal Butterfly). C. Guppy, however, has recently proposed that the species on the coast, including Vancouver Island, is a distinct species, which he names the Western Elfin Incisalia iroides. Whatever one cares to call it, the individual illustrated is from southern Vancouver Island.

In this area, the usual foodplant is Gaultheria shallon, but I have also found it on the related Arctostaphylos uvaursi and Arbutus menziesii, as well as on the quite unrelated Holodiscus discolor. The caterpillar is usually an unmarked bright green; the second example shown, with striking yellowish and reddish markings, was on a quite unusual foodplant – Ceanothus thyrsiflorus. Like many lycaenids, the caterpillars prefer the flowers to the leaves. The species is single-brooded. The pupa overwinters, and the butterfly appears early in the spring.

Go to next species
Go to previous species
Go to Table of Contents
Go to Index
Go to Title Page