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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Asterocampa celtis belongs to the subfamily Apaturinae. This species is found throughout
much of the eastern half of the U.S. down to northern Mexico. Its preferred habitat
is along wooded streams, forest glades and river edges, wooded roadsides and towns.
The larval food source includes species of various hackberries, Celtis sp. Males
perch on tall objects in sunny areas to watch for females. Eggs are laid in clusters,
and the young caterpillars feed communally. Caterpillars overwinter in groups gathered
inside dead rolled leaves.