COSEWIC Status Appraisal Summary on the Frosted Elfin Callophrys irus in Canada – 2010

Table of Contents

Document Information

Document Information

Extirpated – 2010

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

COSEWIC. 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.

Production note:
This status appraisal summary constitutes a review of classification of the Frosted Elfin Callophrys irus in Canada which was last assessed by COSEWIC in 2000. The 2000 COSEWIC Status Report on the Frosted Elfin Callophrys irus in Canada is posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry link.

COSEWIC would like to acknowledge Ross A. Layberry for writing the status appraisal summary on the Frosted Elfin Callophrys irus in Canada.  The status apppraisal summary was overseen and edited by Laurence Packer, Co–chair of the Arthropods Specialist Subcommittee.

For additional copies contact:

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

Tel.: 819–953–3215
Fax: 819–994–3684

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

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2010.
Catalogue CW69–14/2–1–2010E–PDF
ISBN 978–1–100–16635–3

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COSEWIC Assessment Summary

Assessment Summary – April 2009

Common name
Frosted Elfin

Scientific name
Callophrys irus


Reason for designation
* A reason for designation is not specified when a review of classification is conducted by means of a status appraisal summary.


Status history
Extirpated by 1988. Designated Extirpated in April 1999. Status re–examined and confirmed in May 2000 and in April 2010.

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COSEWIC Status Appraisal Summary

Callophrys irus
Frosted Elfin - Lutin givré

Jurisdictions: Ontario

Current COSEWIC Assessment:

Status category:

XT = Extirpated

Date of last assessment: May 2000

Reason for designation at last assessment: This butterfly is known to have occurred in one restricted area of oak savannah (earlier suggestions that it occurred in a second area were based upon misidentification). It was last recorded in 1988 and has not been seen since despite repeated surveys during the last 10 years.

Criteria applied at last assessment:

Nocriteria given at last assessment.

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Recommendation: Update to the status report NOT required (species’ status category remains unchanged)


sufficient information to conclude there has been no change in status category.

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Evidence (indicate as applicable):

Wildlife species:

Change in eligibility, taxonomy or designatable units: no


No additional data since previous assessment.



Change in Extent of Occurrence (EO): no

Change in Area of Occupancy (AO): no

Change in number of known or inferred current locations: no

Significant new survey information: no


No additional data since previous assessment.


Population Information:

Change in number of mature individuals: no

Change in total population trend: no

Change in severity of population fragmentation: no

Change in trend in area and/or quality of habitat: no

Significant new survey information: yes


The only known Ontario site for this species has been regularly explored, during the correct flight season, by experienced lepidopterists since the date of the previous assessment: by Robert J. Yukitch and Fred J. Urie (TEA 1999), by Robert J. Yukitch (TEA 2000, TEA2006, TEA 2008), by James Kamstra (TEA 2007) and by Colin D. Jones and Robert J. Yukitch (TEA 2009). species, including Duskywing Skippers and other Elfins, whose flight seasons coincided with that of the Frosted Elfin, were reported, confirming that the dates and weather conditions were optimal. These reports only comprise visits where there were enough observations of other species to make reporting worthwhile; there were undoubtedly other, less successful, trips by these and other observers. It has also been looked for at the original site and other areas with its larval foodplant in Norfolk Country by other lepidopterists such as Kirk Zufelt, Ken Stead and W.G, Lamond. Other Despite this, there was absolutely no sign of the Frosted Elfin.



Change in nature and/or severity of threats: no


No additional data since previous assessment.



Change in effective protection: no


There has been no change in effective protection for this species at the federal level. Provincially, there have been some recent changes in effective protection. The species was originally listed as Endangered in 1990 under Ontario’s old Endangered Species Act (1971) and was at first maintained as Endangered under the new Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA 2007). As Endangered, the species received both species and habitat protection, although no habitat was actually protected since there were no extant sites. In September 2010, however, its classification was changed from Endangered to Extirpated (the appropriate designation) in the Species at Risk in Ontario List regulation under the ESA 2007. Under the act, species listed as Extirpated receive species protection but not habitat protection, unless a habitat regulation is prescribed. General habitat protection would automatically apply if the designation is changed to Endangered or Threatened. At the provincial level, under the ESA 2007, there are no requirements for recovery planning until such time that the province determines that reintroduction is feasible. Its SRANK in Ontario is SX (extirpated) and its Ontario and Canadian General Status is “Extirpated”.


Rescue Effect:

Evidence of rescue effect: no


No additional data since previous assessment.


Quantitative Analysis:

Change in estimated probability of extirpation: no


No additional data since previous assessment.


Summary and Additional Considerations:

This species is unquestionably extirpated in Ontario and Canada. There have been no reliable sightings since at least 1988, despite searches by experienced observers. The writer could find no evidence of any attempt at reintroduction if the species. So the previous status of Extirpated should be maintained.

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List of reviewers:

The Status Appraisal Summary was sent to the following jurisdictions for review:

  • Canadian Wildlife Service
  • Parks Canada Agency
  • Province of Ontario (Alan Dextrase and Michael Oldham)
  • Members of the COSEWIC Arthropods Species Specialist Subcommittee
  • Members of the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee (Donna Hurlburt and Dan Benoit)

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Sources of information:

Dextrase, A., 2009. Personal communication to Laurence Packer.

TEA 1999: Toronto Entomological Association Publication 31–1999: Butterflies of Ontario and Summaries of Lepidoptera Encountered in Ontario in 1998.

TEA 2000: Toronto Entomological Association Publication 32–2000: Butterflies of Ontario and Summaries of Lepidoptera Encountered in Ontario in 1999.

TEA 2006: Toronto Entomological Association Publication 36–2006: Ontario Lepidoptera 2003–2004.

TEA 2007: Toronto Entomological Association Publication 37–2007: Ontario Lepidoptera 2005.

TEA 2008: Toronto Entomological Association Publication 38–2008: Ontario Lepidoptera 2006–2007.

TEA 2009: Toronto Entomological Association Publication 39–2008: Ontario Lepidoptera 2008.


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.


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 (2010)

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)*
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)**
A wildlife species that has been evaluated and found to be not at risk of extinction given the current circumstances.

Data Deficient (DD)***
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.

* Formerly described as “Vulnerable” from 1990 to 1999, or “Rare” prior to 1990.
**  Formerly described as “Not In Any Category”, or “No Designation Required.”
***  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.

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