2024 Bog Elfin Blitz - 6 Elfins in one day

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rick cavasin

May 24, 2024, 7:39:51 AMMay 24
to Ontario Butterflies
Hi All,

Continuing from my last missive....

On May 15 I set out from Deep River to visit a bog on Brent Road which I had surveyed last year, hoping to extend the range of the Bog Elfin beyond the bogs on Bissett Creek Road.   This bog seems to be "perfect" habitat for Bog Elfin, but we have to keep in mind that our view of what the ideal habitat is may be somewhat skewed.  We think of certain habitats as ideal because they look "healthy" to us (dense Black Spruce which are more bushy than spindly, a good diversity of other plants growing below, etc.), and because they are the kinds of habitats where we usually find Bog Elfins.  It may be that these are simply the habitats where the species is easiest for us to find (trees have lower branches where they can perch in view, plentiful nectar sources to draw them down to eye level, etc.).  I have certainly found Bog Elfin in places that do not match this pattern.  Be that as it may, this is the impression we have so lets run with it.   Despite extensive surveying under seemingly ideal weather conditions, I wasn't able to locate any Bog Elfins, or any suspicious unidentified Elfins that I recall.  Weirdly, I did see a good number of Hoary Elfins in the bog, which is a little unusual.  I can only assume that the plentiful nectar (leatherleaf was in bloom) attracted them from nearby drier habitat.  When I visited the bog last year, I was surprised to see a number of Grey Hairstreaks there, so this seems to be a pattern with this bog.   I made a few brief visits to some less ideal bogs along Brent Road (more open, spongy bogs with sparser, more spindly Black Spruce), but again, I had no luck.  There were good numbers of other species puddling on the road in various places, and over the course of the day, I picked up all the other Elfin species that we have in Ontario, including Western Pine Elfin (which I have had before along Brent Rd).   From this area, I went to the next major N/S road off Hwy 17 - Klock road, to visit another bog I had picked out on the Satellite view.   This was another somewhat soggy bog with sparse Black Spruce.  It was getting later in the afternoon by this point, and rather hot and buggy.   All I could find on this bog was Brown Elfin, and the odd Eastern Pine Elfin.  When I left this site, it occurred to me that I only needed to see Bog Elfin to make it a 6 elfin day, which I don't think I'd ever managed before.   The bogs around Bissett Creek Road are not exactly easy to access, and I didn't have the stomach for that kind of nonsense so late in the day.  But on my way back to Deep River, I saw the sign for Grant Creek, and I remember that this bog is relatively easy to access, so I stopped there and within a few seconds of getting into the Bog, I saw several Bog Elfins flying around the spindly Black Spruce there.  Aside from nailing my 6th elfin species for the day, this detour served to confirm that Bog Elfins were in fact flying in the area on this date (though Brent is at a higher elevation than Grant Creek).   I spent over an hour in the "good" bog on Brent road without a glimpse of a Bog Elfin, yet I was able to find them within a minute of entering the bog at Grant Creek.  This leads me to suspect that the species may not range as far west as Brent, but we've been wrong about all our previous conclusions about the range of the Bog Elfin.

More to come...

Cheers, Rick
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