Plants and Animals

Incisalia henrici Henry's elfin

Key Characteristics

Wingspan 0.9-1.1 inches (2.3-2.8 cm). Short tails present. Both sexes are orange-brown with a prominent tail on the hindwing. The male lacks the scent patch on the upper surface of the forewing. The hindwing has a frosted margin and bold white marks at either end of the hindwing postmedian line. Undersurfaces are yellowish brown on the outer half of the wings; the hindwing has a distinct outer extension of the basal dark brown area. Caterpillars are light green with lighter lateral lines and a distinct serrated profile.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: T - Threatened (legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S2S3 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from imperiled to vulnerable


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Baraga 1 2009
Barry 1 1987
Crawford 1 1932
Delta 1 2011
Ionia 1 1955
Kent 1 1955
Montcalm 3 1979
Newaygo 1 1989
Oceana 1 2012
Oscoda 1 1954
Presque Isle 1 1967

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Open oak-pine barrens, forest openings and edges, and swamp borders. Shady deciduous forests. Adults have been observed feeding on nectar of bearberry and chokecherry. Caterpillars are found on maple-leaved viburnum. They are also reported to feed on holly (Ilex opaca), huckleberry and redbud (Cercis canadensis). Adults have been observed near wild raisin and Michigan holly.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Threats to this species include habitat loss, degradation and/or fragmentation due to conversion to agricultural lands; altered fire regime; industrial, residential and/or recreational development; and encroachment by invasive species. Additional threats to the species include adverse impacts from incompatible natural resource management, use of pesticides and herbicides and lack of scientific knowledge about this species. Surveys are needed to determine this species' status, abundance and distribution in Michigan. Research to obtain more information about this species' life history and ecology and efforts to assess threats to this species also are warranted. The sites at which this species has been documented should be protected and maintained. Adequate suitable habitat should be maintained at known sites including sufficient densities of the species' host plants.

Active Period

Flight from first week of May to first week of June

Survey Methods

Adults appear for several weeks when redbud is in bloom. Adults often perch a few feet off the ground. They may also be seen flying above the redbuds, interacting with each other. Some may be observed resting on the flowers. Males wait for passing females. This species has one brood per year and overwinters as a pupa. Larvae are present from June to July. In Michigan, adults of this species have been documented from late April to late June (i.e., April 28 - June 20), although most adults have been observed from mid-May to early June.

Visual, aerial net

Survey Period: From first week of May to first week of June

Time of Day: Daytime


Survey References

  • Klots, A.B. 1951. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 349pp.
  • Martin, J.E.H. 1977. The Insects and Arachnids of Canada (Part 1): Collecting, preparing, and preserving insects, mites, and spiders. Publication 1643. Biosystematics Research Institute, Ottawa.

Technical References

  • Bouseman, J.K. and J.G. Sternburg. 2001. Field Guide to Butterflies of Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign. 264pp.
  • Cohen, J.G. 2000. Natural community abstract for oak-pine barrens. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 6 pp.
  • Glassberg, J. 1999. Butterflies through Binoculars: The East. Oxford University Press, New York. 242pp.
  • Klots, A.B. 1951. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 349pp.
  • Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 1995. Forest stewardship training materials for oak-pine barrens ecosystem. Unpublished manuscript. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI.
  • Nielsen, M.C. 1999. Michigan butterflies and skippers: A field guide and reference. Michigan State University Extension Bulletin E-2675, East Lansing. 248pp.
  • Stehr, F. W. 1997. Michigan Lepidoptera Survey Sites and Seasonal Occurrence of Michigan's Listed Species Annual Report 1997. 30 pp.+ MI Lepidoptera Survey Data Collection Form