San Bruno elfin butterfly

San Bruno Elfin Butterfly

San Bruno elfin butterfly

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The San Bruno elfin butterfly (Callophrys mossii bayensis or Incisalia mossii bayensis) is a U.S. Federally listed endangered subspecies which inhabits rocky outcrops and cliffs in coastal scrub on the San Francisco peninsula, endemic to this habitat in California. Its patchy distribution reflects that of its host plant, Broadleaf Stonecrop .

Life cycle

Adults of this butterfly emerge in early spring, in February and March, when nectar providing flowers open. After mating the female locates host plants on which to deposit the eggs, which hatch within a week. The tiny larvae first feed on the plant's vegetative structures; however, when the stonecrop's flowers begin to open, the larvae migrate upward and feed on the flowers themselves. By June most have completed their larval development at which time they evacuate from the host plant to pupate in ground litter. They lie dormant as pupae until the following spring, when the life cycle begins anew.

The San Bruno elfin butterfly's life cycle holds an interesting aspect, common to many other lycaenids regarding a symbiotic interaction with ants. Elfin larvae excrete a sweet liquid known as honeydew which attracts ants. In exchange for honeydew, the ants often provide protection from harm by predators and parasites, principal mortality causes in most foliage feeding insects.

Range and habitat

The San Bruno elfin is restricted to a few small populations, the largest of which occurs on San Bruno Mountain. Most of these areas,...
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