The family Nymphalidae is the largest butterfly family and includes about 6,000 species
which are further divided up into 12 subfamilies. The common name for the family
is the Brushfoots or Brushfooted Butterflies. This strange name is because the first
pair of legs are significantly reduced, sometimes to mere stubs, and look like little
brushes. Some of the most common and well known species are in this group such as
the Monarch, Red Admiral, Blue Morpho and Painted Lady. Some of the longest lived
butterflies are in this family with some species living over 10 months as adults.
The Brushfoots are distributed worldwide, with the highest diversity found in the
tropics. With this variety, there is also quite a difference in behavior, adult
food choices and habitat preference from species to species.
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Euptoieta claudia belongs to the subfamily Heliconiinae. This species is found from
the higher elevations of Argentina through Central America and Mexico to the southern
United States and regularly disperses throughout the U.S. and southern Canada. It
can be found in most open areas including vacant lots, fields and city parks.
The larval food source are a variety of plants in several families including passionvines,
Passiflora sp., may apple, Podophyllum peltata, violets, Viola sp., purslane, Portulaca
sp., stonecrop, Sedum sp., and moonseed, Menispermum sp. Males patrol short distances
in open places to look for females. Eggs are laid singly on host plant stems and
leaves and caterpillars eat leaves and flowers.