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.
Junonia coenia, wing detail, specimen from Minot State University collection, North
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Junonia coenia belongs to the subfamily Nymphalinae. Its range is from the southern
United States and north along the coasts to central California and North Carolina;
south to Bermuda, Cuba, Isle of Pines, and southern Mexico. Adults from the souths
first brood migrate north in late spring and summer to temporarily colonize most
of the United States and parts of southern Canada. Its preferred habitat includes
open, sunny areas with low vegetation and some bare ground.
The larval food source includes plants from the snapdragon family such as snapdragon,
Antirrhinum sp., and toadflax, Linaria sp., as well as the plantain family including
plantains, Plantago sp., and the acanthus family including ruellia, Ruellia nodiflora.
Males perch during the day on low plants or bare ground to watch for females, flying
periodically to patrol or to chase other flying insects. Females lay eggs singly
on leaf buds or on upperside of host plant leaves. Caterpillars are solitary and