Thursday, April 2, 2009


Here is a recently caught specimen, a medium-small butterfly of the family Riodinidae, or Metalmarks. There is some debate whether the group Riodinidae is a subfamily of Lycaenidae, or a separate family under Papilionoidea. Lycaenidae consists of small, delicate, often brightly colored butterflies. The body is slender, the antennae are usually ringed with white, and the eyes are surrounded by scales. The larvae are flat and sluglike, many secrete honeydew, and some live in ant nests where ants can feed upon the honeydew they secrete. If we take the interpretation that Riodinidae is a subfamily of Lycaenidae, there are two other subfamilies - Miletinae and Lycaeninae.

Lepidoptera; Papilionoidea; (Lycaenidae; Riodininae) Riodinidae; Apodemia virgulti
Common Name: Behr's Metalmark

*I find the eye spots on this specimen to be particularly fantastic - it has the white of the eye, the pupil, iris, etc. I accentuated the eye spots on the lower right image*

More detail on the family/subfamily Riodinidae: Metalmarks are small, dark-colored butterflies that differ from the other Lycaenidae subfamilies in that the costal vein of the hind wing is thickened and they have a short humeral vein in the hind wing. Most are tropical or western. The larvae tend to feed on ragwort and thistle. This particular species has been found almost exclusively in California. This species' larvae also tend to feed on buckwheat.

Here are the final pinned versions of the above butterfly, the crane fly, and the sphinx moth.

*Corrected from Mormon Metalmark - according to bugguide: "this species differs from others in the mormo complex by the brick-red, or reddish-orange areas on the dorsal surface of both FW and HW, and generally darker appearance." Also, this specimen was found early spring, while a similar subspecies of Mormon Metalmarks is found in late summer or early fall.*

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