Brush-footed Butterflies
Kingdom Animalia
Order Lepidoptera
Distribution worldwide
Number of Species 6,000
Genera Number 544
Alternative Names 4 footed butterflies,Brushfooted Butterflies
Regional Names 20px-Japan(タテハチョウ科 tatehachou ka)Flagofchinasmall(蛺蝶科)German flag(Edelfalter)

Nymphalidae is the largest family of butterflies with about 6,000 species distributed throughout most of the world. These are usually medium sized to large butterflies. Most species have a reduced pair of forelegs and many hold their colourful wings flat when resting. They are also called brush-footed butterflies or four-footed butterflies. Many species are brightly colored and include popular species such as the emperors, admirals, tortoiseshells, and fritillaries. However, the underwings are in contrast often dull and in some species look remarkably like dead leaves, or are much paler, producing a cryptic effect that helps the butterfly disappear into its surroundings.


The libytheine clade

The danaine clade

  • Danainae (Milkweed butterflies. Earlier treated as distinct family Danaidae.)
Host plant families include Apocynaceae, Asclepiadoideae (subfamily of Apocynaceae), and Moraceae.
Most species with long wings, some having transparent wings. Host plants in the families Apocynaceae, Gesneriaceae, and Solanaceae.
Caterpillars resemble those of the Danainae and feed on Apocynaceae.

The satyrine clade

Mimics of the Danainae and restricted to host plants in the family Moraceae.
Tropical canopy butterflies. Caterpillars often with head spines or projections. Mostly edible species with some Batesian mimics. Host plants in the families Annonaceae, Celastraceae, Convolvulaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae, Flacourtiaceae, Lauraceae, Myrtaceae, Piperaceae, Poaceae, Rhamnaceae, Rutaceae, Santalaceae, and Sapindaceae.
Include the spectacular neotropical Morphos. Food plants include the Arecaceae, Bignoniaceae, Fabaceae, Menispermaceae, Poaceae, and Sapindaceae.
Host plants in the families Arecaceae, Bromeliaceae, Heliconiaceae, Musaceae, and Poaceae.
  • Satyrinae (Satyrs and Browns. Earlier treated as distinct family Satyridae.)
Host plants in the families Arecaceae, Araceae, Cyperaceae, Heliconiaceae, Poaceae, and Selaginellaceae.

The heliconiine clade (sister group of the nymphaline clade; excludes former tribes Biblidini and Cyrestini, and tribes Pseudergolini and Coeini.)

  • Heliconiinae (Earlier treated as distinct family Heliconiidae.)
Colourful tropical butterflies noted for Müllerian mimicry. All species use host plants in the family Passifloraceae.
Host plant in the families Asteraceae, Passifloraceae, Sterculiaceae, Tiliaceae, and Urticaceae.

The nymphaline clade (sister group of the heliconiine clade; also includes tribes Coeini and Pseudergolini)

Host plants in the family Ulmaceae. Caterpillars smooth with bifid tails and horns on the head.
Some species migratory. Caterpillars sometimes covered in spines. Host plants include Acanthaceae, Caprifoliaceae, Convolvulaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fagaceae, Flacourtiaceae, Lamiaceae, Loranthaceae, Moraceae, Plantaginaceae, Poaceae, Rubiaceae, Rutaceae, Salicaceae, Sapindaceae, Scrophulariaceae, Urticaceae, and Verbenaceae.