Family Riodinidae


There are about 1,400 species of metalmarks, almost all in the American tropics. Of the 25 species that occur in North America only one reaches Canada, in extreme southern Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Most species (but not ours) have spots or lines of scales with a metallic sheen. One additional species, the Swamp Metalmark (Calephelis muticum) occurs into northern Ohio and southern Michigan and might possibly occur in southwestern Ontario; it is a small orange butterfly with a series of black and metallic dashes forming bands on all four wings; it occurs in swamps and wet meadows where the larval foodplant, Swamp Thistle (Cirsium muticum) grows.

Metalmarks are most closely related to the lycaenids, and are sometimes considered a subfamily of the Lycaenidae. Like them, the male forelegs are reduced to less than half-size. The first segment (the coxa) is extended into a spine beyond the point where it joins with the lower segments of the leg. The larvae too are similar to lycaenid larvae, but are somewhat intermediate between the lycaenid shape and the normal cylindrical larvae of other families. Unlike lycaenid larvae, the body hairs tend to group into clusters on raised bumps (verrucae) along the body, as in many Nymphalids.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.