Conserve Wildlife Blog

Frosted Elfin: A Rare Butterfly in New Jersey.

May 12th, 2017

by: CWF Wildlife Biologist Larissa Smith

The monarch butterfly gets a lot of attention these days, it’s large, showy and easy to spot. My love of butterflies started with my Monarch internship years ago. Monarchs are a great way to get people interested in butterflies of all kinds. Unlike the monarch the Frosted elfin, isn’t all that easy to find. There are four species of butterfly listed as endangered in New Jersey and three listed as threatened in New Jersey.

The Frosted elfins are beautiful in an understated way and approximately an inch in size. They are a NJ threatened species.  It is locally rare and found in isolated populations. Their major food and host plant is (Baptisia tinctoria). Baptisia can be found in dry clearings and open areas often along power-line right of ways and roadsides.

Can you find the Frosted elfin in this photo?

Baptisia with Frosted Elfin May 3, 2017@L.Smith

I went out last week to search for the Frosted elfins. I was lucky to see six adults as it was a windy day and not the best survey conditions. The Frosted elfin is on the left side of the plant hanging upside down. You can see how well they blend in with the environment.

The below photo was taken by ENSP biologist Robert Somes in 2015 while we were out surveying. This photo gives a close up look at the butterfly which had was oviposting eggs on the leaf of the Baptisia.

Frosted Elfin with recently oviposited egg on Baptisia plant@ Robert Somes

Now is a great time of year to see all different species of butterflies. Don’t forget to plant native species  as food, nectar and host plants for butterflies as well as other invertebrate species.

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One Response to “Frosted Elfin: A Rare Butterfly in New Jersey.”

  1. Jill Brown says:

    So glad to learn a new butterfly! I raise Black Swallowtail butterflies. So far this season 14 have emerged from wintering over in a tank on my porch! last year I released 84 in total!

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