|Family Nymphalidae - Brush-Footed Butterflies|
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This family incorporates the admirals, fritillaries, checkerspots, crescentspots, anglewings, leafwings,
painted ladies, tortoiseshells and longwings. Live butterflies photographed in the wild in the USA.
HackBerry Butterfly demonstrates the "four-legged" stance of the Nymphalids
Family Nymphalidae - Brushfoots or brush-footed butterflies encompass approximately 3,000 species worldwide, of which 160 or so live in or visit North America. This is a very diverse family of butterflies, and they occur everywhere except the polar ice caps. Their unifying characteristic is the reduced forelegs of both males and females. These vestigial forelegs are nearly useless for walking and give rise to the family's common name.
The habit of holding the forelegs close to the body is shared with many other insects, including some bumblebees, flies, bugs and beetles. I assume the evolutionary device will eventually lead many species to lose the appendages completely.
Common Wood Nymph
Little Wood Satyr
Northern Pearly Eye
American Painted Lady
Buckeye Butterfly - Junonia coenia
Common Sailor Butterfly
Subfamily Danainae - The Milkweed Butterflies & Glasswings consist of 400 species, only four of which reside in North America. The monarch is the most famous of this family, known for its soaring flight and yearly migration. Most species' caterpillars feed on the toxic milkweed plant, imparting a bitter flavor to the adult butterfly which is distasteful to birds. The viceroy butterfly is not a member of this family, but mimics the monarch.
Great Spangled Fritillary
|Subfamily Heliconiinae - Heliconians and Fritillaries can be divided into 45-50 genera and were sometimes treated as a separate family (Heliconiidae) within the Papilionoidea. |
Most longwings are found in the Tropics, particularly in South America; only the Argynnini are quite diverse in the Holarctic. Especially tropical species feed on poisonous plants, characteristically Passifloraceae vines, as larvae, becoming poisonous themselves. The adult butterflies announce their acquired toxicity with strong aposematic colors, warning off would-be predators. There are several famous cases of Batesian and Müllerian mimicry both within this group and with other butterflies. Other common foodplants are Fabaceae (which also contain several toxic species), and particularly among northernly species, Violaceae .
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Learn to identify many of the American Midwest's common species through descriptions and large diagnostic photos of live, wild specimens.
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