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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Cercyonis pegala belongs to the subfamily Satyrinae. This species is found throughout
much of the U.S. and southern Canada. Its preferred habitat includes sunny, grassy
areas including prairies, open meadows, bogs and old fields.
The larval food source includes various grasses. Males patrol for females with a
dipping flight through the vegetation. In late summer, females lay eggs singly on
host plant leaves. Caterpillars hatch but do not feed, but instead hibernate until