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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Myscelia ethusa belongs to the subfamily Biblidinae. This species is found from
Colombia north through Central America to Mexico. It periodically strays into and
lives in the lower Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas. Its preferred habitat is
stream valleys with dry scrub or scattered tropical forest.
The larval food source includes Dalechampia sp. in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae.
Young caterpillars make a resting perch by attaching dung pellets and silk to a
leaf vein. The adults rest on tree trunks with wings closed, exposing their undersides
which look like bark.