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Nymphalidae facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Suborder: Ditrysia
Superfamily: Papilionoidea
Family: Nymphalidae
Rafinesque, 1815
Morpho peleides 2
A Blue Morpho, Morpho peleides
An Idea species in the subfamily Danainae, showing the first pair of legs or "brushfoot" legs. They are hard to see.

The Nymphalidae is the largest family of butterflies, with about 6,000 species. They live on all continents except Antarctica. They are commonly known as nymphalids, brushfoots, or brush-footed butterflies.


Brushfoots get their name from their front pair of legs. This pair of legs is reduced. They do not have claws at the end. Only the middle and last pair of legs are used for walking. This is why they are 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. Most hold their colourful wings flat when they are at rest. However, the underwings are often dull; in some species they look just like dead leaves, or are much paler. So when they raise their wings in the normal butterfly position, this cryptic effect helps the butterfly disappear into its surroundings.


  • Apaturinae – Hackberry butterflies and Emperors
  • Biblidinae – Tropical Brushfoots
  • Calinaginae
  • Charaxinae – Leafwings
  • Cyrestinae
  • DanainaeMilkweed butterflies
  • Heliconiinae – Heliconiians and Fritillaries
  • Ithomiinae (sometimes placed in the subfamily Danainae as a tribe (a tribe is a ranking between family and genus))
  • Libytheinae – Snout butterflies
  • Limenitidinae – Admirals and Sisters
  • MorphinaeMorphos (sometimes placed in the subfamily Satyrinae as a tribe)
  • Nymphalinae – Buckeyes, Eggflies, Checkerspots, Crescents, Anglewings, and Ladies
  • Satyrinae – Satyrs and Browns.

Some example species

  • Aglais urticae – Small Tortoiseshell
  • Apatura iris – Purple Emperor
  • Danaus plexippus – Monarch
  • Hamadryas amphinome – Red Cracker
  • Inachis io – Peacock
  • Junonia coenia – Common Buckeye
  • Libytheana carinenta – American Snout or Common Snout
  • Limenitis archippus – Viceroy
  • Morpho menelaus – Blue Morpho
  • Nymphalis antiopa – Mourning Cloak or Camberwell Beauty
  • Speyeria cybele – Great Spangled Fritillary
  • Vanessa cardui – Painted Lady
  • Vanessa atalanta – Red Admiral

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Nymphalidae Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.