Family: Nymphalidae

Family:NymphalidaeRafinesque, 1815
Type Genus:NymphalisKluk, 1780


Family: Nymphalidae

The Nymphalidae is a family of several thousand species found in all zoogeographical regions of the world. Most are medium or large in size, but the family is highly variable given that it also includes the Satyrinae, a subfamily that has been designated as a family in its own right in earlier classifications.

The forelegs in both sexes are vestigial and useless for walking. In the male, there are typically only 2 tarsal joints and the legs have a brush-like appearance, resulting in a common name for this family - the "brush-footed butterflies". The female foreleg has 4 tarsal joints which, when compared with the male, provides a mechanism of determining the sex of the adult. The midleg and hindleg are normal in both sexes and both tibia and tarsus may have spines.

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Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne)
Photo © Nigel Kiteley

White Admiral (Limenitis camilla)
Photo © Peter Eeles

The forewing always has 12 veins. Given the variability of this family, there are no further distinguishing characteristics that apply to the family as a whole.

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Nymphalidae (Danainae)
Danaus plexippus

Nymphalidae (Satyrinae)
Pyronia tithonus

Nymphalidae (Nymphalinae)
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Boloria selene

Photo © Timothy Freed, whose original drawings are shown in Moths and Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 7, Issue 1 (Emmet & Heath, 1989)


This family is represented by the following subfamilies:


This family is represented by the species shown below.

Monarch - imago - Thatcham - 25-Sep-06 (0759) [REARED]

Danaus plexippus
Photo © Pete Eeles

Wall Brown male - Tide Mills, Sussex 7-Sept-2017

Lasiommata megera
Photo © trevor

Large Wall - imago - Samoens - 01-Jul-07 (2) [Paul Kipling]

Large Wall
Lasiommata maera
Photo © Paul Kipling

Speckled Wood male - Solihull West Midlands 29.04.2014

Speckled Wood
Pararge aegeria
Photo © Neil Freeman

Large-Heath-davus Whixall Moss 13-June-11 03C8780

Large Heath
Coenonympha tullia
Photo © IainLeach

Small-Heath-Cambridge 8 August 2010 I9T0893

Small Heath
Coenonympha pamphilus
Photo © IainLeach

Arran Brown - imago - Unknown location - Unknown date [Roger Gibbons]

Arran Brown
Erebia ligea
Photo © Roger Gibbons

Mountain Ringlet male - Irton Fell 12.06.2014

Mountain Ringlet
Erebia epiphron
Photo © Neil Freeman

Scotch-Argus- 5D32869 Arnside Aug 2012

Scotch Argus
Erebia aethiops
Photo © IainLeach

Almond-Eyed Ringlet, Parc du Mercantour, Alpes-Maritimes, France, 7th July 2014

Almond-eyed Ringlet
Erebia alberganus
Photo © David M

Ringlet Male - Woldingham, Surrey 30-June-10

Aphantopus hyperantus
Photo © Vince Massimo

Meadow Brown female - Cissbury Ring, Sussex 1-Aug-2014

Meadow Brown
Maniola jurtina
Photo © Neil Hulme

Gatekeeper male - Ryton Wood Warwickshire 14.07.2012

Pyronia tithonus
Photo © Neil Freeman

Marbled White - imago - Pamber Forest - 29-Jun-08 (1)

Marbled White
Melanargia galathea
Photo © Pete Eeles

Grayling-Arneside Knott 3 July 2011 03C0539

Hipparchia semele
Photo © IainLeach

Woodland (or Rock) Grayling - male - Jósvafő, Hungary - 03-Jul-12

Woodland Grayling
Hipparchia fagi
Photo © Pete Eeles

False Grayling poss. male - Var, France 2-Aug-2007

False Grayling
Arethusana arethusa
Photo © Roger Gibbons

Hermit male - Switzerland 4-Aug-2016

Chazara briseis
Photo © Padfield

Illioneus Giant Owl - Belem, Brazil 1-July-2010 [Almir Candido de Almeida]

Illioneus Giant Owl
Caligo illioneus
Photo © Almir Candido de Almeida

Tamarindi Owlet - Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica 20-April-2011 [Rudy Dodero]

Tamarindi Owlet
Opsiphanes tamarindi
Photo © Rudy Dodero

Cassia's Owl-butterfly (ssp Chiriquensis) - Costa Rica 20-Dec-2009 [Rudy Dodero]

Cassia's Owl-butterfly
Opsiphanes cassiae
Photo © Rudy Dodero

Julia - imago - Cayo Coco, Cuba - 19-Oct-06 (1)

Dryas julia
Photo © Pete Eeles

Pearl-bordered-Fritillary- 5D37078 Wyre Forest May 2012

Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Boloria euphrosyne
Photo © IainLeach

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary 2010

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Boloria selene
Photo © Gruditch

Weaver's Fritillary - Alpes-Maritimes - 11 August 2012

Weaver's Fritillary
Boloria dia
Photo © CFB

Queen of Spain Fritillary - imago - Rhodopi, Bulgaria - 07-Jul-07 (1057)

Queen of Spain Fritillary
Issoria lathonia
Photo © Pete Eeles

Silver Washed Fritillary (male) - 22nd June 2014, Lower Woods, nr. Wickwar, Gloucestershire

Silver-washed Fritillary
Argynnis paphia
Photo © David M

Cardinal - imago - Thatcham - 27-Jun-09 (3) {REARED}

Mediterranean Fritillary
Argynnis pandora
Photo © Pete Eeles

Dark-Green-Fritillary Bakewell, Derbys 11 May 2011- 03C3221

Dark Green Fritillary
Argynnis aglaja
Photo © IainLeach

High Brown Fritillary Male - Arnside Knott, Cumbria 9-July-09

High Brown Fritillary
Argynnis adippe
Photo © Vince Massimo

Niobe Fritillary - imago - Lauenensee, Lauenen, Switzerland - 10-Jul-11

Niobe Fritillary
Argynnis niobe
Photo © Pete Eeles

Great Spangled Fritillary - Townsend, Massachusetts, USA  20-June-2013 [Damian Pinguey]

Great Spangled Fritillary
Argynnis cybele
Photo © Damian Pinguey

White Admiral, Lower Woods, nr. Wickwar, Gloucestershire, 22.06.2014

White Admiral
Limenitis camilla
Photo © David M

Purple Emperor - Fermyn Wood 2-July-2014

Purple Emperor
Apatura iris
Photo © Neil Hulme

Lesser Purple Emperor male - Switzerland 18-June-2015

Lesser Purple Emperor
Apatura ilia
Photo © Padfield

Zebra - imago - Studley Grange Butterfly World - 15-Jul-07 [James Bailey]

Colobura dirce
Photo © James Bailey

Red Admiral - Solihull West Midlands 28.07.2013

Red Admiral
Vanessa atalanta
Photo © Neil Freeman

Painted-Lady- 5D30342 Lincs 18 Aug 2013

Painted Lady
Vanessa cardui
Photo © IainLeach

American Painted Lady female - Cook County, Illinois, USA 12-June-2005 [Tom Bentley]

American Painted Lady
Vanessa virginiensis
Photo © Tom Bentley

Indian Red Admiral - Lunglei, Mizoram, India 11-Oct-2011 [Milind Bhakare]

Indian Red Admiral
Vanessa indica
Photo © Milind Bhakare

Small Brown Shoemaker female - Ruiz Cortines, Veracruz, Mexico 5-June-2008 [Bill Bouton]

Small Brown Shoemaker
Hypanartia lethe
Photo © Bill Bouton

Peacock, Findon Valley, Sussex 8-Aug-2012

Aglais io
Photo © Neil Hulme

Small Tortoiseshell, Wiggonholt (31 August 2011)

Small Tortoiseshell
Aglais urticae
Photo © Mark Colvin

Camberwell Beauty - imago - Thatcham - 25-Jul-08 (1) {REARED}

Camberwell Beauty
Nymphalis antiopa
Photo © Pete Eeles

Large Tortoiseshell, Littlehampton Bridge, Sussex 26 June 2007

Large Tortoiseshell
Nymphalis polychloros
Photo © Neil Hulme

Scarce Tortoiseshell - male - Thatcham - 22-Jun-15 [REARED]-11

Scarce Tortoiseshell
Nymphalis xanthomelas
Photo © Pete Eeles

Comma - Chaldon, Surrey 19-March-11

Polygonia c-album
Photo © Vince Massimo

Map - male - Thatcham - 26-Apr-14 [REARED]-2

Araschnia levana
Photo © Pete Eeles

Blue Pansy - imago - Bobiri National Reserve, Ghana - Nov-04 [Mike Weiner]

Blue Pansy
Junonia oenone
Photo © Mike Weiner

Meadow Argus [David Cook]

Albin's Hampstead Eye
Junonia villida
Photo © David Cook

Marsh Fritillary - Fontmell Down 23-May-2015

Marsh Fritillary
Euphydryas aurinia
Photo © Reverdin

Glanville Fritillary- Compton Bay IOW 23-May- 2016 (1)

Glanville Fritillary
Melitaea cinxia
Photo © Buchan Boy

Spotted Fritillary - Cantabria N-Spain

Spotted Fritillary
Melitaea didyma
Photo © johnb

Heath-Fritillary- 5D39908. Kent, June 2015

Heath Fritillary
Melitaea athalia
Photo © IainLeach