Riodinidae Butterfly Family

Riodinidae Butterfly Family

Ares Metalmark Butterfly | Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly | Palmer’s Metalmark Butterfly

The Riodinidae (or metalmarks) are a family of butterflies that derives their name from the small metallic-looking spots commonly found on their wings. There are approximately 1,000 species of metalmark butterflies in the world. The family is represented both in the New World and the Old World. Like the lycaenids, the males of this family have reduced forelegs while the females have full-sized, fully functional forelegs.

The foreleg of males, is often reduced and has a uniquely shaped first segment (the coxa) which extends beyond its joint with the second segment, rather than meeting it flush. They have a unique venation on the hindwing. The costa of the hind wing is thickened out to the humeral angle and the humeral vein is short.

Most species perch on the undersides of leaves with the wings held open and completely flat.

The eggs vary in shape but often appear round and flat. The caterpillars are usually hairy, plump and are the common overwintering stage. Pupae are hairy and attached with silk to either the host plant or to ground debris or leaf litter. There is no cocoon.

The larvae feed on many species of plants in the following families: Find out HERE!

Ares Metalmark Butterfly

Ares Metalmark Butterfly

The Ares Metalmark Butterfly (Emesis Ares) is distributed from Southern Arizona and Northwestern Mexico to Michoacan. Ares Metalmark butterflies have fringes which are mostly white. Their uppersides are dark brown with many dark narrow bars.

Their hindwings are marked with orange patches. Undersides are dusky orange with rows of small black spots. They have a wingspan of 3.2 – 3.5 centimetres (1 1/4 – 1 3/8 inches).

Ares Metalmark butterflies inhabit Washes and stream sides in oak woodland of desert mountains.

Ares Metalmark butterflies have one flight period from July to September. Ares Metalmark adults feed on flower nectar.

Caterpillar host plants include Oak Trees from the Quercus species.

Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly

Lange's Metalmark Butterfly

Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly (Apodemia mormo langei) is an endangered North American butterfly. It is a subspecies of the Mormon metalmark and belongs to the family Riodinidae. Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly is a fragile, brightly coloured butterfly. Adult wingspan varies from 1 to 1.5 inch.

Their dorsal wings are largely black with white spots. Red-orange colouration extends through the inner forward half of the forewing, the hindwing bases and a small central patch subtended by black. Below, the wings have a more muted pattern of grey, white, black and orange.

All the life stages of Lange’s metalmark butterflies are found close to the larval food plant, buckwheat. The eggs are deposited on buckwheat leaves near the leaf petiole throughout the mating flight that occurs during August and September. Larvae hatch during the rainy months. Larvae are known to feed only on buckwheat. The adults may use buckwheat, butterweed (Senecio douglasii) and snakeweed (Gutierrezia divergens) for nectar. Lange’s metalmark butterfly also use lupine (Lupinus albifrons), for mating.

Unlike the many butterfly species that have several generations a year, Lange’s metalmark has only one. The reproduction rate of the wild individuals is low. Detailed life history and physiological requirements of this species are unknown.

Palmer’s Metalmark Butterfly

Palmer's Metalmark Butterfly

Palmer’s Metalmark Butterfly (Apodemia palmeri) is common in Arizona, especially in areas of desert scrub where their larval host plants, the Mesquite trees (Prosopis) can be found. The adult Palmer’s Metalmark butterflies feed on flower nectar and some of their favourite flowers are daisies like the TransPecos Thimbleheads (Hymenothrix wislizeni).

Palmer’s Metalmark butterflies have green eyes and brown or grey-brown dorsal forewings and hindwings with small, coppery orange markings and squared white spots. These butterflies are relatively small with only a 2.8 centimetre (1.1 inch) wingspan.

There are a couple of other similar Metalmark butterflies found in Arizona, but they can be distinguished by the amount and distribution of the coppery orange colour on their dorsal wing surfaces.

Mormon Metalmarks (Apodemia mormo) have a large orange patch on their dorsal forewings and dark brown hindwings.

The boldly marked Sonoran Metalmarks (Apodemia mejicanus) have bright coppery orange to black dorsal forewings and hindwings. Unlike these other two butterflies, Palmer’s Metalmarks do not have large areas of coppery orange on their dorsal wing surfaces, only small patches of orange.