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Field and Swamp: Animals and Their Habitats

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  If you know your butterfly classifications and want to look one up, go to the Butterfly Index   

To see the most common 35 species of butterflies in North Carolina, see Common Butterflies.


Butterflies (superfamilies Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea, order Lepidoptera, infraclass Neoptera, subclass Pterygota, class Insecta, subphylum Hexapoda, phylum Arthropoda, kingdom Animalia)

There are 35 superfamilies in the Lepidoptera order, and butterflies are members of only two, 1) the "true" butterflies (Papilionoidea) and 2) the skippers (Hesperoidea).   Members of the other superfamilies are considered to be moths.

The five families of "true" butterflies are 1) Brushfoots (Nymphalidae), 2) Swallowtails (Papilionidae), 3) Blues and Hairstreaks (Lycaenidae), 4) Whites and Yellows (Pieridae), and 5)  the Metalmarks (Riodinidae).   The other butterfly superfamily, the Skippers, is comprised of one family, the Hesperiidae, which in turn is divided into five subfamilies: 1) Grass Skippers (Hesperiinae), 2) Spreadwing Skippers (Pyrginae), 3) Heteropterinae (Arctic Skippers), 4) Megathyminae, and 5) Pyrrhopyrginae.

These classifications constitute valid taxa according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System.

 "True" Butterflies (Papilionoidea superfamily)

American (Painted) Lady (Vanessa virginiensis), an example of the Nymphalidae family at Brushfoots.  These are medium-sized butterflies with multi-colored wings and often complex patterns. Female Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor), Durham, 8/4/04.  See more members of Papilionidae at Swallowtails.  These are large butterflies with tail-like structures on their hindwings. 

 

"Olive" Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus gryneus).  See more Lycaenidae family members at Blues and Hairstreaks.  These are small butterflies that are frequently noticed as darting movements in the grass. Little Yellow (Eurema lisa).  To see more Pieridae family members, go to Whites and Yellows.  These are medium-sized butterflies colored mainly solid yellow, orange, or white.  The main exception, the Sleepy Orange, is varied in color and pattern.

Skippers (Hesperiidae family, Hesperioidea superfamily)

Male Fiery Skipper (Hylefila phyleus).  See more Hesperiidae family members at Skippers.  Skippers are mostly small butterflies with big bodies relative to their wing size.

© Copyright 2005-2008 Dorothy E. Pugh

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