Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)

The two hundred plus native brushfoot species (family Nymphalidae) represent approximately thirty percent of the total number of North American butterfly species.

The family's large size translates into an abundance of butterfly stories, from tales about long range migratory species such as Monarchs and Red Admirals, to updates on the mass migration patterns of species such as American Snouts and California Tortoiseshells.

Somewhere along the way the story of the brushfoots gets retold as the four legged butterflies because of the reduced size of their front legs.

Formally, North American brushfoots divide into eleven subfamilies, with some, such as the True Brushfoots, Satyrs and Fritillaries, having relatively high species numbers, along with a continent wide presence.

The following slide show highlights over twenty different butterfly species in the True Brushfoot subfamily (Nymphalinae).

Anartia: Four Peacock butterfly species (Anartia) fly in the United States.

Checkerspots: Typically the checkerspot nickname applies to species in five different genera. The Chlosyne genus, which also includes the patch butterflies, a group without a checkerboard wing pattern.

Chlosyne: Twenty separate Chlosyne species, going by the name checkerspot or patch, find a home on North American soil. Chlosyne checkerspots tend to have a northern range while patches tend to range across southern environments.

Crescents: Two genera, Anthanassa and Phyciodes account for the vast majority of the North American Crescents, with the Phyciodes more broadly distributed.

Junonia: Three Junonia species, collectively called buckeyes, call North America home.

Tortoiseshells: Tortoiseshell is the common name given to brushfoot butterflies in two genera, Aglais and Nymphalis.

Vanessa: Four native Vanessa species, the American Lady, Painted Lady, Red-Admiral, West Coast Lady, live in North America.

Polygonia: With the exception of the Question Mark butterfly (Polygonia interrogationis), the seven native North American comma species (Polygonia) display a white comma mark on the middle of the lower wing.

Siproeta: Malachite Butterflies.


© 2006-2014 Patricia A. Michaels.