Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus): COSEWIC status appraisal summary 2019

Official title: COSEWIC Status Appraisal Summary on the Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus) in Canada 2019

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)
Extirpated 2019

Document information

COSEWIC status appraisal summaries are working documents used in assigning the status of wildlife species suspected of being at risk in Canada. This document may be cited as follows:

COSEWIC. 2019. COSEWIC status appraisal summary on the Frosted Elfin Callophrys irus in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. xix pp. (Species at Risk Public Registry website).

Production note:

COSEWIC acknowledges Jennifer Heron for writing the status appraisal summary on the Frosted Elfin, Callophrys irus, in Canada, prepared under contract with Environment and Climate Change Canada. This status appraisal summary was overseen and edited by Paul Grant and David McCorquodale, Co-chairs of the COSEWIC Arthropods Specialist Subcommittee.

For additional copies contact:

COSEWIC Secretariat
c/o Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment Canada
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0H3

Tel.: 819-938-4125
Fax: 819-938-3984
E-mail: COSEWIC E-mail
Website: COSEWIC

Également disponible en français sous le titre Sommaire du statut de l’espèce du COSEPAC sur le Lutin givré (Callophrys irus) au Canada.

 

COSEWIC assessment summary

Assessment summary – May 2019

Common name: Frosted Elfin

Scientific name: Callophrys irus

Status: Extirpated

Reason for designation: This butterfly occurred in one restricted area of oak savanna in southern Ontario. It was last recorded in 1988 and has not been seen since despite repeated surveys.

Occurrence: Ontario

Status history: Extirpated by 1988. Designated extirpated in April 1999. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000, April 2010, and May 2019.

COSEWIC status appraisal summary

English name: Frosted Elfin

French name: Lutin givré

Scientific name: Callophrys irus

Range of occurrence in Canada: Ontario

COSEWIC Status History

Extirpated by 1988. Designated Extirpated in April 1999. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000, April 2010, and May 2019.

Wildlife species

Change in eligibility, taxonomy or designatable units:
No

Explanation

There are currently three described subspecies of Frosted Elfin, although only the nominate subspecies (Callophrys irus irus) is known from Canada. There have been no changes to the taxonomy since the previous COSEWIC assessments. There are inconsistencies in the literature about the taxonomic status of the species, mainly the possibility of additional subspecies in the United States, though these are not applicable for the species in Canada (see Pelham 2008; Schweitzer et al. 2011; Pohl et al. 2018). For the purposes of this status report the entity, no matter its name, is the only representative of the species in Canada.

Range

Change in extent of occurrence (EOO):
No
Change in index of area of occupancy (IAO):
No
Change in number of known or inferred current locationsFootnote 1 :
No
Significant new survey information:
Yes

Explanation

Frosted Elfin was last observed in Ontario in 1988 at the St. Williams Conservation Reserve, Norfolk County (COSEWIC 2000; Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017). There have been no additional historical records found from unidentified museum specimens or personal collections, nor have there been new observations of the species in potential habitats.

The St. Williams Conservation Reserve has been thoroughly inventoried for all butterflies over the recent decades by the academic, biologist and naturalist community. There are annual butterfly checklists from these and the other remnant oak savanna habitats in southern Ontario that have been continuously updated over long periods of time, as shown by the abundance of butterflies recorded from this area during the correct flight season (May) (Macnaughton et al. 2019). Despite extensive search effort in these and other remnant savanna habitats with the species host plant, Wild Lupine, Frosted Elfin has not been reported in the province since 1988 (COSEWIC 2000; Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017; Jones pers. comm. 2018; Linton pers. comm. 2018; Macnaughton et al. 2019). The known area and potential habitat at the St. Williams Conservation Reserve is 1035 hectares, although Frosted Elfin occupied a small portion of that habitat (Otis pers. comm. 2018).

A butterfly in an unidentified drawer of specimens housed at the Royal Ontario Museum was recently identified as Frosted Elfin (unique identifier TEA17_21409, collected May 27, 1937 by Quimby F. Hess at Grand Bend, Lambton County [now Pinery Provincial Park]). Examination of the specimen concluded this identification was erroneous and in fact a Hoary Elfin (Callophrys polios) (Jones pers. comm. 2018).

More details in surrounding text
Figure 1. Historical extent of occurrence (EOO; 4 km2) and index of area of occupancy (IAO; 4 km2) of the Frosted Elfin, where 65 observations of Frosted Elfin were made from 1969–1988.
Long description

Map of the historical extent of occurrence and index of area of occupancy of the Frosted Elfin in Canada.

Population information

Change in number of mature individuals:
No
Change in population trend:
No
Change in severity of population fragmentation:
No
Change in trend in area and/or quality of habitat:
Yes
Significant new survey information:
No

Explanation

There have been no population studies on the Frosted Elfin in Canada (COSEWIC 2000; Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017). Population information on Frosted Elfin is limited to abundance counts completed within areas around the St. Williams Conservation Reserve prior to 1988, the last year the species was observed. There are 32 observation dates between 1969 and 1988; the most observations of Frosted Elfin were 12 individuals on May 12, 1979 (COSEWIC 2000; Macnaughton et al. 2019). The population at the St. Williams Conservation Reserve was estimated at less than 100 individuals in any given year (Packer 1990; COSEWIC 2000; Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017).

Habitat quality has improved at the St. Williams Conservation Reserve, based on various savanna restoration activities (for example, invasive plant removal, fire management), since this species was last detected in 1988 (see Threats).

Threats

Change in nature and/or severity of threats:
Yes

Explanation

A formal threats assessment was not completed for inclusion in this COSEWIC status appraisal summary. However, existing and future threats were examined and discussed in the federal recovery strategy that includes Frosted Elfin (Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017). Threats are defined as the proximate activities or processes that have caused, are causing, or may cause in the future the destruction, degradation, and/or impairment of the entity being assessed (that is, Frosted Elfin) in the area of interest (that is, the St. Williams Conservation Reserve) (Salafsky et al. 2008). Threats are assessed under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature-Conservation Measures Partnership (IUCN-CMP) threat categories 1–11 and summarized below (for full text see Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017).

Present-day potential threats to the historical Frosted Elfin habitat at the St. Williams Conservation Reserve include recreational activities (Threat 6.1) that impact host plant patches (Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017). A large number of hikers to an area can destroy habitat, trample host plants, and increase the spread of non-native plants. Impacts from dog-walking can also impact host plant health, particularly if dog-owners do not respect leash bylaws and dogs dig, defecate or urinate repeatedly within the same areas.

Other proximal threats include the spread of invasive non-native/alien plants that out-compete Wild Lupine (categorized under Threat 8.1 in the recovery plan; however, proximal threats are considered 7.3 other ecosystem modifications). Invasive plants include Orange Hawkweed (Pilosella aurantiaca), Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia virgata), Cypress Spurge (E. cyparissias), Crown Vetch (Securigera varia), White Sweet Clover (Melilotus albus) and Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea stoebe), which are all present at the St. Williams Conservation Reserve (Jarvis 2014; Jones pers. comm. 2018) and considered detrimental to Frosted Elfin habitats (USFWS 2018). Additional non-native plants such as Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora), and Hoary False-alyssum (Berteroa incana) are also found in Wild Lupine habitat at the St. Williams Conservation Reserve (Heagy pers. comm. 2019).

Native White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) will over-browse on Wild Lupine and other nectar plants and thus consume feeding larvae (Threat 8.2). Climate change from habitat shifting and alteration (Threat 11.1), droughts (11.2) and temperature extremes (Threat 11.3) could all impact host plants and habitat through timing of life cycle and emergence (Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017). Droughts can be problematic for small populations with limited habitat. An extended summer drought can cause premature host plant senescence and was a contributing factor in the decline of the Frosted Elfin subpopulation at St. Williams Conservation Reserve (Otis pers. comm. 2018). The non-native European Fire Ant (Myrmica rubra) is recorded from the St. Williams Conservation Reserve and is a likely predator on Frosted Elfin larvae, especially if the larvae are on host plants within the home range of this invasive ant’s nest.

Excessive collecting (Threat 5.1) is a historical threat although specimen collecting is still a threat to rare butterflies in Ontario and a possibility if Frosted Elfin were to be reintroduced (COSEWIC 2006; Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017).

Historical threats to Frosted Elfin are predominantly habitat loss from land conversion for residential/ commercial development (Threat 1.1 and 1.2) and agriculture (Threat 2.1). Sandy oak savanna, woodland and tallgrass prairie habitats in Ontario prior to European settlement are estimated at 80,000–200,000 ha (Taylor et al. 2014). Today approximately 1% remains of the oak savanna, woodland and tallgrass prairie habitats in Ontario (Taylor et al. 2014). Frosted Elfin would have occurred in the savanna portion.

More recent threats that likely led to the extirpation of the species include fire suppression (Threat 7.1) programs and the lack of the natural disturbance processes that prevent vegetation succession (for example, wildfire) and thereby enable the abundant growth of Wild Lupine. If the butterfly were reintroduced to the province these threats would still be applicable to the St. Williams Conservation Reserve (and other potential reintroduction sites) without habitat management. Additional historical threats include widespread insecticide spray programs to control non-native European Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar dispar) within the same habitats as Frosted Elfin (Threat 9.3). The provincial Gypsy Moth control program is no longer active; however, pesticide drift (Threat 9.3) from regional Gypsy Moth or other pest treatments within municipalities and/or on private properties adjacent to the St. Williams Forest Conservation Reserve (or other potential reintroduction sites) may still be a potential threat should Frosted Elfin be reintroduced (Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017). The threat of pesticide drift is considered low because the historical Frosted Elfin habitats of the St. William’s Conservation Reserve are at least 500 metres from the nearest agricultural field and buffered by forest. 

Additional limiting factors: In Canada, Frosted Elfin is dependent on Wild Lupine as a larval food plant (COSEWIC 2000). Although additional host plants, such as Yellow Wild Indigo, are used elsewhere in the species range, their use in Canada is unknown. Multiple Wild Lupine patches, a minimum of 2.4 ha in size and within 2 km of one another, are thought to be sufficient to support subpopulations of Frosted Elfin (Swengel 1996). Suitable patches do not exist in Canada now.  Frosted Elfin males are territorial and will defend Wild Lupine habitat patches (Packer 1990); if suitable habitat patches are limited then female/male mate finding and the number of potential mating events may also be limited. Research in the United States suggests the species does not always occupy the same habitat patches in consecutive years (Swengel and Swengel 1999); fluctuation in site occupancy and abundance will also be limited by the number of available habitat patches.

Protection

Change in effective protection:
Yes

Explanation

Federal protection: Frosted Elfin is listed as Extirpated under Schedule 1 of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). This species is one of three butterflies included in the multi-species recovery strategy for the Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis, now Plebejus samuelis), Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus) and Eastern Persius Duskywing (Erynnis persius persius) in Canada (Environment and Climate Change Canada 2019). The recovery strategy sets out a schedule of studies (Section 7.2) of when and how critical habitat would be identified if recovery is deemed feasible or the species is reintroduced in Canada (Environment and Climate Change Canada 2019).

Provincial (Ontario) protection: In 2008 Frosted Elfin was assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Ontario (COSSARO) and listed as Endangered under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act [ESA] (ESA 2007). Under this act, endangered species receive protection for both the individuals and their habitat. In 2010, Frosted Elfin was re-assessed and its status changed from Endangered to Extirpated. Extirpated species receive species protection but not habitat protection unless a habitat regulation is prescribed. Frosted Elfin does not currently have a prescribed habitat regulation.

Under the Ontario ESA there are no requirements for recovery planning until such time the province determines that reintroduction is feasible. Recovery feasibility for Frosted Elfin is discussed in the federal recovery strategy for the species (see Environment and Climate Change Canada 2019). The minimum Wild Lupine patch size required to sustain a subpopulation is unknown but likely smaller than what is required by Karner Blue (Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017). Research in the United States recommends multiple Wild Lupine patches, a minimum of 2.4 ha in size and within 2 km of one another (Swengel 1996). The minimum number of butterflies needed for a self-sustaining subpopulation of Frosted Elfin is unknown; however, the subpopulation at St. Williams Conservation Reserve (referred to as St. Williams Forestry Station during the time the study was conducted) was roughly estimated at less than 100 individuals in any one year (Packer 1990).

Scientific information to inform the decision to reintroduce Frosted Elfin to Canada can be drawn from the research assessing the quality and quantity of suitable habitat for the SARA-listed Karner Blue, which is also extirpated from Canada (see Chan 2004; Chan and Packer 2006; Bernard et al. 2012; Jarvis 2014; Otis 2017). No formerly occupied habitats that remain in Ontario are of adequate size or provide the abundance of Wild Lupine needed to sustain populations of the butterfly, although in recent years restoration efforts, which have included seeding and prescribed burning, have been implemented in Norfolk County. To date (January 2019) there is no decision to reintroduce Frosted Elfin to Canada although the Ontario Butterfly Species at Risk Recovery and Implementation Team is actively supporting efforts towards recovery of the species, including habitat restoration and research (Jones pers. comm. 2018; Linton pers. comm. 2018; Otis pers. comm. 2018).

Other non-legal conservation status ranks for Frosted Elfin:
Ontario subnational status: SX (Extirpated) (NHIC 2018)
Canada General Status: NX (Extirpated) (Natureserve 2018)
Global Status: G3 (Vulnerable) (Natureserve 2018)
United States National Status: N3 (Vulnerable) (Natureserve 2018)
United States Subnational Status: Alabama (SU [undetermined]), Arkansas (SNR
[Not Ranked]), Connecticut (S2S3 [imperilled to vulnerable]), Delaware (S1 [Critically imperilled]), District of Columbia (SH [historical]), Florida (S1), Georgia (S2S4), Illinois (SH), Indiana (S1), Kansas (SNR), Kentucky (S1), Louisiana (S2S3), Maine (SX), Maryland (S1), Massachusetts (S2S3), Michigan (S2S3), New Hampshire (S1), New Jersey (S2), New York (S1S2), North Carolina (S2), Ohio (S1), Oklahoma (S1), Pennsylvania (S1S2), Rhode Island (S1), South Carolina (SNR), Tennessee (S1?), Texas (SNR), Vermont (S1), Virginia (S2?), West Virginia (S1), Wisconsin (S1)(Natureserve 2018).

The conservation status rank for Wild Lupine in Ontario is imperilled/vulnerable (S2S3) and for Yellow Wild Indigo is critically imperilled/imperilled (S1S2). Both plants have not been assessed by COSEWIC or COSSARO nor listed under SARA or the Ontario ESA.

Rescue effect

Change in evidence of rescue effect:
No

Explanation

Frosted Elfin is at risk throughout its global range (Natureserve 2018). In the United States the species remains within habitats that are isolated and widely separated from one another (Natureserve 2018; USFWS 2018). Adults are non-migratory and tightly associated with host plant patches (COSEWIC 2000; Schweitzer et al. 2011; USFWS 2018). There are few habitat patches in Canada that meet the minimum requirements to sustain a Frosted Elfin subpopulation (Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017). It is not possible for the species to recolonize the known historical site at the St. Williams Conservation Preserve, nor any other suitable habitat in Ontario, without human assistance (that is, a captive breeding, habitat restoration and reintroduction program).

Quantitative analysis

Change in estimated probability of extirpation:
No

Details

Frosted Elfin has not been recorded in Ontario since 1988 (COSEWIC 2000; Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017) and there had been no quantitative analysis prior to its extirpation.

Summary and additional considerations

In November 2017, the Ontario Butterfly Species at Risk Recovery and Implementation Team had their first meeting (Linton pers. comm. 2018) and recovery team members work on many of the recovery actions for Frosted Elfin. The multi-species federal recovery strategy includes Frosted Elfin (Environment and Climate Change Canada 2019).

Acknowledgements

Colin Jones, Jessica Linton, Donald Sutherland, Mike Oldham, Wasyl Bakowsky and Gard Otis provided advice and information on the historical and current habitat, and ongoing recovery projects for Frosted Elfin in Ontario. Jenny Wu (COSEWIC Secretariat), Paul Grant (former Co-chair COSEWIC Arthropods Specialist Subcommittee [SSC]), David McCorquodale (Co-chair COSEWIC Arthropods SSC), and members of the Arthropods SSC (Cory Sheffield, Jeremy deWaard, Brian Starzomski, John Klymko, Jessica Linton, Colin Jones) provided advice, information on the species and review comments. Audrey Heagy, Donald Sutherland, Mike Oldham, Dan Krauss, Ruben Boles, Elisabeth Shapiro, and Ken Tuininga provided information and reviews. Laurence Packer wrote the first status report for the Frosted Elfin (COSEWIC 2000) and Colin Jones wrote the 2010 status appraisal summary (COSEWIC 2010).

Authorities contacted

Bakowsky, Wasyl. Ecosystem Ecologist. Natural Heritage Information Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Peterborough, Ontario.

Boles, Ruben. Species Assessment and Species at Risk Listing Biologist, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.

Girard, Judith. Wildlife Biologist, Conservation Planning and Stewardship Section, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.

Heagy, Audrey. Botanist. St. Williams, Ontario.

Jones, Colin. Provincial Arthropod Zoologist, Natural Heritage Information Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Peterborough, Ontario.

Kraus, Dan. Ontario. National Conservation Biologist, Nature Conservancy Canada, Toronto, Ontario.

Linton, Jessica. Chair, Ontario Butterfly Species at Risk Recovery and Implementation Team, Waterloo, Ontario.

Oldham, Mike. Provincial Botanist, Natural Heritage Information Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Peterborough, Ontario.

Otis, Gard. Adjunct Professor, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario.

Shapiro, Elisabeth. Wildlife Habitat Biologist, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, Ontario.

Sutherland, Donald. Natural Heritage Information Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Peterborough, Ontario.

Tuininga, Ken. Species at Risk Biologist, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, Ontario.

Information sources

Bernard, J., S. Dunets, B. Hammill, E. Hunter, K. McKay, and C. Wagner. 2012. The Feasibility of the Re-introduction of the Karner Blue Butterfly to Ontario (PDF). A literature review by University of Guelph students. [Accessed October 2, 2018]. (presently not an active link)

Chan, P.K. 2004. Plant Communities in Oak Savannas in Ontario: Are We Ready for Reintroduction of the Karner Blue Butterfly. MSc Thesis, York University, Toronto, Ontario.

Chan, P.K., and L. Packer. 2006. Assessment of potential Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) (Family Lycaenidae) reintroduction sites in Ontario, Canada. Restoration Ecology 14: 645 to 652.

CMP (Conservation Measures Partnership). 2010. Threats taxonomy. Website: http://www.conservationmeasures.org/initiatives/threats-actionstaxonomies/threats-taxonomy [Accessed October 4, 2018]. (presently not an active link)

COSEWIC (Committee of the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada). 2000. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus) in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered  Wildlife in Canada. 20 pp.

COSEWIC (Committee of the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada). 2006. COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Eastern Persius Duskywing (Erynnis persius persius) in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa. 41 pp.

COSEWIC (Committee of the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada). 2010. COSEWIC status appraisal summary on the Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus) in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii pp.

COSEWIC (Committee of the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada). 2019. COSEWIC wildlife species assessment: quantitative criteria and guidelines. [Accessed January 29, 2019].

Environment and Climate Change Canada. 2019. Recovery Strategy for the Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis), Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus) and Eastern Persius Duskywing (Erynnis persius persius) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ottawa. xv + 71 pp.

Heagy, A. 2019. Personal communication to C. Jones. January 21, 2019. Natural Heritage Information Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Peterborough, Ontario.

Jarvis, J.R. 2014. Assessing Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) habitat in Ontario, Canada, for the feasibility of reintroduction of Karner Blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa). M. Sc. Thesis. University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. x + 83 pp.

Jones, C. 2018. Email and phone correspondence to J. Heron. October 2018. Provincial Arthropod Zoologist, Natural Heritage Information Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Peterborough, Ontario.

Linton, J. 2018. Email correspondence with J. Heron. Chair Ontario Butterfly Species at Risk Recovery and Implementation Team and Senior Terrestrial and Wetland Biologist, Natural Resource Solutions Inc., Waterloo, Ontario.

Macnaughton, A., R. Layberry, R. Cavasin, B. Edwards, and C.D. Jones. 2019. Toronto Entomologists’ Association Ontario Butterfly Atlas, online search for records, Frosted Elfin, Callophrys irus. [Accessed January 30, 2019]

Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC). 2018. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. [Accessed January 30, 2019]

NatureServe. 2018. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Comprehensive Report Species Callophrys iris. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Website: http://explorer.natureserve.org/ servlet/NatureServe?searchName=Callophrys+irus. [Accessed: January 20, 2019]. (presently not an active link)

Nuzzo, V.A. 1986. Extent and status of midwest oak savanna: Pre-settlement and 1985. Natural Areas Journal 6(2):6 to 36.

Otis, G. 2017. Survey of Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) in 2017 in Norfolk County, Ontario. Report for Nature Conservancy Canada Research Project #AG-ON-2017-151788, Guelph, Ontario.

Otis, G. 2018. Email and phone correspondence with J. Heron. Adjunct professor, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario.

Packer, L. 1990. The status of two butterflies, Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) and Frosted Elfin (Incisalia irus), restricted to oak savanna in Ontario. pp. 253 to 271, in G.M. Allen, P.F.J. Eagles, and S.D. Price (eds.). Conserving Carolinian Canada: Conservation Biology in the Deciduous Forest Region. University of Waterloo Press, Waterloo, Ontario. 346 pp.

Packer, L. 1998. Status report on the Frosted Elfin butterfly, Incisalia irus (Godart), in Canada. Department of Biology, York University, Toronto, Ontario. 33 pp.

Pelham, J. 2008. A catalogue of the butterflies of United States and Canada. Journal of the Research on the Lepidoptera Vol. 40: 672 pp.

Pohl, G.R., J.- F. Landry, B.C. Schmidt, J.D. Lafontaine, J.T. Troubridge, A.D. Macaulay, E.J. van Nieukerken, J.R. deWaard, J.J. Dombroskie, J. Klymko, V. Nazari, and K. Stead. 2018. Annotated checklist of the moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) of Canada and Alaska. Pensoft Publishers, Sofia, Bulgaria.

Salafsky, N., D. Salzer, A.J. Stattersfield, C. Hilton-Taylor, R. Neugarten, S.H.M. Butchart, B. Collen, N. Cox, L.L. Master, S. O’Connor, and D. Wilkie. 2008. A standard lexicon for biodiversity conservation: Unified classifications of threats and actions. Conservation Biology 22:897–911.

Schweitzer, D.F., M.C. Minno, and D L. Wagner. 2011. Rare, declining, and poorly known butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) of forests and woodlands in the eastern United States. USFS Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, Technology Transfer Bulletin FHTET-2011-01. 517 pp.

Sutherland, D. 2019. Personal communication to C. Jones and J. Heron. January 2019. Natural Heritage Information Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Peterborough, Ontario.

Swengel, A.B. 1996. Observations of Incisalia irus (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) in Central Wisconsin 1988 to 1995. Great Lakes Entomologist 29:47 to 62.

Swengel, A.B., and S.R. Swengel. 1999. Variation in timing and abundance of elfins (Callophrys) (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) in Wisconsin during 1987–1999. Great Lakes Entomologist 33(1): 45 to 68.

Taylor, K., W.I. Dunlop, A. Handyside, S. Hounsell, B. Pond, D. MacCorkindale, J. Thompson, M. McMurtry, and D. Krahn. 2014. Mixedwood plains ecozone status and trends assessment—with an emphasis on Ontario. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010. Canadian Council of Resource Ministers, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. XLVIII + 344 pp.

USFWS (United States Fish and Wildlife Service). 2018. Species status assessment report for the Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus), Version 1.2. April 2018. Cortland, NY. 85pp. Website: https://www.fws.gov/northeast/nyfo/es/FE%20SSA%20Report %20v1.1_Final.pdf [Accessed January 19, 2019]. (presently not an active link)

Writer of status appraisal summary

Jennifer M. Heron is the provincial invertebrate conservation specialist with the British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. She directs and manages the provincial approach to invertebrate conservation, including the development and implementation of provincial legislation, policy, procedures, and standards for the conservation, and recovery of invertebrate species at risk, their habitats and ecosystems, and to keep these species from becoming at risk. She wrote/cowrote twelve COSEWIC status reports and is the Co-Chair of the Arthropods Specialist Subcommittee. Her interests include the native bees of western Canada and thermal springs invertebrates.

Technical summary

Scientific name: Callophrys irus

English name: Frosted Elfin

French name: Lutin givré

Range of occurrence in Canada: Ontario

Demographic information

Generation time (usually average age of parents in the population; indicate if another method of estimating generation time indicated in the IUCN guidelines(2011) is being used):
1 year
Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] continuing decline in number of mature individuals?
Not applicable
Estimated percent of continuing decline in total number of mature individuals within [5 years or 2 generations]:
Not applicable
[Observed, estimated, inferred, or suspected] percent [reduction or increase] in total number of mature individuals over the last [10 years, or 3 generations]:
Not applicable
[Projected or suspected] percent [reduction or increase] in total number of mature individuals over the next [10 years, or 3 generations]:
Not applicable
[Observed, estimated, inferred, or suspected] percent [reduction or increase] in total number of mature individuals over any [10 years, or 3 generations] period, over a time period including both the past and the future:
Not applicable
Are the causes of the decline a) clearly reversible and b) understood and c) ceased?
a. yes
b. yes
c. no
Are there extreme fluctuations in number of mature individuals?
No

Extent and occupancy information

Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO):
Present day EOO 0
Historical EOO = 4 km2
Index of area of occupancy (IAO) (Always report 2x2 grid value):
Present day IAO 0
Historical IAO = 4 km2
Is the population “severely fragmented”:
a. Not applicable
b. Not applicable
Number of “locations”* (use plausible range to reflect uncertainty if appropriate):
0
Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] decline in extent of occurrence?:
Not applicable
Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] decline in index of area of occupancy?:
Not applicable
Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] decline in number of subpopulations?:
Not applicable
Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] decline in number of “locations”*?:
Not applicable
Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] decline in [area, extent and/or quality] of habitat?:
No
Are there extreme fluctuations in number of subpopulations?:
Not applicable
Are there extreme fluctuations in number of “locations”?:
Not applicable
Are there extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence?:
Not applicable
Are there extreme fluctuations in index of area of occupancy?:
Not applicable

* See definitions and abbreviations on COSEWIC website and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (Feb 2014) for more information on this term.

Number of mature individuals (in each subpopulation)

Subpopulations (give plausible ranges) total: Not applicable

N Mature Individuals total: None

Quantitative analysis

Probability of extinction in the wild is at least [20% within 20 years or 5 generations, or 10% within 100 years]: No data

Threats (actual or imminent, to populations or habitats, from highest impact to least)

Was a threats calculator completed for this species? No, however threats were assessed under IUCN-CMP threat categories as part of the multi-species federal recovery strategy that includes Frosted Elfin (see Environment and Climate Change Canada 2019).

What additional limiting factors are relevant? Larvae depend on Wild Lupine to complete their life cycle and this plant is ranked imperilled/vulnerable in Ontario; larvae are cannibalistic; males establish and defend territories and if habitat is limited, then mate-finding may also be limited; larvae feed on flowering parts of the host plant and may be limited by plant phenology; habitat patch size may need to be a minimum of 2.4 ha and within 2 km of one another to support populations (Swengel 1996).

Rescue effect (immigration from outside Canada)

Status of outside population(s) most likely to provide immigrants to Canada.:
S1 – S3 in all jurisdictions where the species has been assessed
Is immigration known or possible?:
Not possible
Would immigrants be adapted to survive in Canada?:
Yes
Is there sufficient habitat for immigrants in Canada?:
Unknown
Are conditions deteriorating in Canada?+:
Unknown
Are conditions for the source population deteriorating?+:
Yes
Is the Canadian population considered to be a sink?+:
Not applicable
Is rescue from outside populations likely?:
No

+ See table 3 (Guidelines for modifying status assessment based on rescue effect).

Data-sensitive species

Is this a data sensitive species? No

Status history

COSEWIC: Extirpated by 1988. Designated Extirpated in April 1999. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000, April 2010, and May 2019.

Status and reasons for designation

Status: Extirpated

Alpha-numeric codes: Not applicable

Reasons for designation: Reasons for designation: This butterfly occurred in one restricted area of oak savanna in southern Ontario. It was last recorded in 1988 and has not been seen since despite repeated surveys.

Applicability of criteria

Criterion A (Decline in Total Number of Mature Individuals): Not applicable

Criterion B (Small Distribution Range and Decline or Fluctuation): Not applicable

Criterion C (Small and Declining Number of Mature Individuals): Not applicable

Criterion D (Very Small or Restricted Population): Not applicable

Criterion E (Quantitative Analysis): Not applicable

Table 1. Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus) records in Canada (Macnaughton et al. 2019)
Month Day Year Observers Adults Subpopulation Record type Unique ID Data source Collection number
May 22 1988 Alan Wormington 1 St. Williams, Norfolk County specimen BIO_15339 Biota of Canada, Alan Wormington Collection; Collection number CBIF_034749
May 5 1987 Quimby F. Hess 3 St. Williams Forestry Nursery area, Lot 22, Norfolk County 2 on sand road + 1 at dead herb TEA87_00905 TEA Summary 1987 Not applicable
Jun 4 1986 Quimby F. Hess 1 St. Williams, Con. 6 roadside, Norfolk County unknown TEA86_01261 TEA Summary 1986 Not applicable
May 9 1986 Mary Gartshore 8 St. Williams Forestry Nursery, Lot 22, Norfolk County unknown TEA86_01260 TEA Summary 1986 Not applicable
May 23 1979 Jim Trowbridge 1 St. Williams, Norfolk County specimen BIO_16476 Biota of Canada; CNC CBIF_073742
May 19 1979 W.J.D. Eberlie 1 St. Williams, Norfolk County specimen TEA17_21412 Brad Hubley Email 2015; TEA Summary 2017; ROM BOC18095
May 12 1979 Sid Daniels 12 St. Williams, Norfolk County 12 seen flying near patches of Lupine scattered over 0.5sqmi TEA79_01281 TEA Summary 1979 Not applicable
May 10 1979 Jim Trowbridge 3 St. Williams, Norfolk County specimen BIO_16475 Biota of Canada; CNC CBIF_073739
May 28 1978 Jim Trowbridge 4 St. Williams, Norfolk County specimen BIO_16474 Biota of Canada; CNC CBIF_073741
May 27 1978 Jack E. Pilkington present St. Williams, Norfolk County Not applicable TEA78_00931 TEA Summary 1978 Not applicable
May 25 1978 Anthony M. Holmes present St. Williams, Norfolk County Not applicable TEA78_00930 TEA Summary 1978 Not applicable
May 19 1978 Jim Trowbridge 1 St. Williams, Norfolk County specimen BIO_16473 Biota of Canada; CNC CBIF_073740
May 17 1978 Sid Daniels 5 St. Williams,
Norfolk County
5 seen over an area of approximately half a mile square. TEA78_00929 TEA Summary 1978 Not applicable
May 16 1977 Jim Trowbridge 1 male St. Williams,
Norfolk County
specimen BIO_00660 Biota of Canada; MMMN CBIF_054644
May 8 1977 Jim Trowbridge present St. Williams,
Norfolk County
Not applicable TEA77_00823 TEA Summary 1977 Not applicable
May 7 1977 Jim Trowbridge present St. Williams,
Norfolk County
Not applicable TEA77_00822 TEA Summary 1977 Not applicable
Apr 30 1977 Jim Trowbridge present St. Williams,
Norfolk County
Not applicable TEA77_00821 TEA Summary 1977 Not applicable
May 26 1976 Jim Trowbridge present St. Williams,
Norfolk County
Not applicable TEA76_00568 TEA Summary 1976 Not applicable
May 12 1976 Jim Trowbridge present St. Williams,
Norfolk County
Not applicable TEA76_00567 TEA Summary 1976 Not applicable
May 9 1976 Jim Trowbridge present St. Williams,
Norfolk County
Not applicable TEA76_00566 TEA Summary 1976 Not applicable
Jun 3 1975 W.J.D. Eberlie 1 St. Williams,
Norfolk County
specimen TEA17_21411 Brad Hubley Email 2015; TEA Summary 2017; ROM BOC18094
May 10 1974 Sid Daniels present St. Williams,
Norfolk County
Not applicable TEA74_00230 TEA Summary 1972 to 1974 Not applicable
May 6 1973 Sid Daniels present St. Williams,
Norfolk County
Not applicable TEA73_00125 TEA Summary 1972 to 1974 Not applicable
May 30 1971 Sid Daniels, O.J. Lewchyshyn, Darryl Stewart present St. Williams,
Norfolk County
Not applicable TEA71_00405 TEA Summary 1971 Not applicable
May 28 1971 Sid Daniels, O.J. Lewchyshyn, Darryl Stewart 1 St. Williams,
Norfolk County
specimen TEA17_21410 Biota of Canada/ROM Database;  TEA Summary 2017; ROM BOC7080
May 9 1971 Sid Daniels, O.J. Lewchyshyn, Darryl Stewart present St. Williams,
Norfolk County
Not applicable TEA71_00403 TEA Summary 1971 Not applicable
May 9 1970 Sid Daniels present St. Williams, Norfolk County unknown TEA70_00568 TEA Summary 1970 Not applicable
May 26 1969 Sid Daniels present St. Williams, Norfolk County Not applicable TEA69_00120 TEA Summary 1969 Not applicable
May 19 1969 Brian Ottaway present St. Williams, Norfolk County Not applicable TEA69_00118 TEA Summary 1969 Not applicable
May 19 1969 Sid Daniels present St. Williams, Norfolk County Not applicable TEA69_00119 TEA Summary 1969 Not applicable
Jun 4 1967 D.M. Wood 1 St. Williams, Norfolk County specimen BIO_16471 Biota of Canada; CNC CBIF_073744
May 26 1966 K. O'Neill 4 St. Williams, Norfolk County Not applicable TEA13_11200 Layberry Excel 2013TEA Summary 2013; Paul D. Syme, now in CNC Not applicable

COSEWIC history

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) was created in 1977 as a result of a recommendation at the Federal-Provincial Wildlife Conference held in 1976. It arose from the need for a single, official, scientifically sound, national listing of wildlife species at risk. In 1978, COSEWIC designated its first species and produced its first list of Canadian species at risk. Species designated at meetings of the full committee are added to the list. On June 5, 2003, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) was proclaimed. SARA establishes COSEWIC as an advisory body ensuring that species will continue to be assessed under a rigorous and independent scientific process.

COSEWIC mandate

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assesses the national status of wild species, subspecies, varieties, or other designatable units that are considered to be at risk in Canada. Designations are made on native species for the following taxonomic groups: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, arthropods, molluscs, vascular plants, mosses, and lichens.

COSEWIC membership

COSEWIC comprises members from each provincial and territorial government wildlife agency, four federal entities (Canadian Wildlife Service, Parks Canada Agency, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Federal Biodiversity Information Partnership, chaired by the Canadian Museum of Nature), three non-government science members and the co-chairs of the species specialist subcommittees and the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge subcommittee. The Committee meets to consider status reports on candidate species.

Definitions (2019)

Wildlife species
A species, subspecies, variety, or geographically or genetically distinct population of animal, plant or other organism, other than a bacterium or virus, that is wild by nature and is either native to Canada or has extended its range into Canada without human intervention and has been present in Canada for at least 50 years.
Extinct (X)
A wildlife species that no longer exists.
Extirpated (XT)
A wildlife species no longer existing in the wild in Canada, but occurring elsewhere.
Endangered (E)
A wildlife species facing imminent extirpation or extinction.
Threatened (T)
A wildlife species likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed.
Special concern (SC)
(Note: Formerly described as “Vulnerable” from 1990 to 1999, or “Rare” prior to 1990.)
A wildlife species that may become a threatened or an endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.
Not at risk (NAR)
(Note: Formerly described as “Not In Any Category”, or “No Designation Required.”)
A wildlife species that has been evaluated and found to be not at risk of extinction given the current circumstances.
Data deficient (DD)
(Note: Formerly described as “Indeterminate” from 1994 to 1999 or “ISIBD” [insufficient scientific information on which to base a designation] prior to 1994. Definition of the [DD] category revised in 2006.)
A category that applies when the available information is insufficient (a) to resolve a species’ eligibility for assessment or (b) to permit an assessment of the species’ risk of extinction.

The Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, provides full administrative and financial support to the COSEWIC Secretariat.

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