The Riodinidae are a family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 of butterflies
A butterfly is a mainly day-flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, which includes the butterflies and moths. Like other holometabolous insects, the butterfly's life cycle consists of four parts: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Most species are diurnal. Butterflies have large, often brightly coloured...

. The common name "metalmarks" refers to the small metallic-looking spots commonly found on their wings. There are approximately 1,000 species of metalmark butterflies in the world. Although mostly neotropical in distribution, the family is represented both in the Nearctic and the Old World
Old World
The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....


Distinguishing features

Like the lycaenids
The Lycaenidae are the second-largest family of butterflies, with about 6000 species worldwide, whose members are also called gossamer-winged butterflies...

, 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
Arthropod leg
The arthropod leg is a form of jointed appendage of arthropods, usually used for walking. Many of the terms used for arthropod leg segments are of Latin origin, and may be confused with terms for bones: coxa , trochanter , femur, tibia, tarsus, ischium, metatarsus, carpus, dactylus ,...

) 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.

Taxonomy and systematics

Riodinidae is currently treated as a distinct family within the superfamily Papilionoidea
The superfamily Papilionoidea contains all the butterflies except for the skippers, which are classified in superfamily Hesperioidea, and the moth-like Hedyloidea....

, but in the past they were held to be the subfamily Riodininae of the Lycaenidae
The Lycaenidae are the second-largest family of butterflies, with about 6000 species worldwide, whose members are also called gossamer-winged butterflies...

. Earlier, they were considered to be part of the now defunct family Erycinidae, whose species are divided between this family and the subfamily Libytheinae
Libytheinae is the nymphalid subfamily of the snout butterflies, containing two valid genera and about 10 species, 6 in Libythea and 4 in Libytheana. The common name refers to the thick labial palps that look like a "snout" in this subfamily. In older literature, this group was recognized as the...



The family Riodinidae consists of three subfamilies. They are:
  • Euselasiinae – a handful of genera
    In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

  • Nemeobiinae - Sometimes treated as a tribe, Nemeobiini, however which of the remaining two subfamilies it would belong to in this case is uncertain.
  • Riodininae
    The Riodininae are the larger by far of the subfamilies of the metalmark butterfly family, Riodinidae. The latter was long united with the Lycaenidae....

     – some dozens of genera

Genera of uncertain position

Several genera, namely from the Old World
Old World
The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....

, are of more uncertain affiliations; some of them are monotypic
In biology, a monotypic taxon is a taxonomic group with only one biological type. The term's usage differs slightly between botany and zoology. The term monotypic has a separate use in conservation biology, monotypic habitat, regarding species habitat conversion eliminating biodiversity and...

. Such Riodinidae incertae sedis
Incertae sedis
, is a term used to define a taxonomic group where its broader relationships are unknown or undefined. Uncertainty at specific taxonomic levels is attributed by , , and similar terms.-Examples:*The fossil plant Paradinandra suecica could not be assigned to any...

  • Hamearis
    Hamearis is a genus of butterflies. Here it is considered part of subfamily Nemeobiinae, tribe Zemerini, within the metalmark butterfly family . The Riodinidae were formerly included in the family Lycaenidae as subfamily...

    – Duke of Burgundy (Zemerini or distinct subfamily Hamearinae?)
  • Dicallaneura
  • Praetaxila
  • Taxila – Orange Harlequin
  • Tribe
    Tribe (biology)
    In biology, a tribe is a taxonomic rank between family and genus. It is sometimes subdivided into subtribes.Some examples include the tribes: Canini, Acalypheae, Hominini, Bombini, and Antidesmeae.-See also:* Biological classification* Rank...

    • Polycaena
    • Saribia
    • Takashia
  • Tribe Abisarini
    • Abisara
      Abisara is a genus of butterflies in the family Riodinidae. They are found in Africa and southeast Asia.-Species:*Abisara abnormis*Abisara aita*Abisara attenuata*Abisara barnsi*Abisara bifasciata*Abisara burnii...

    • Laxita
    • Paralaxita
    • Stiboges – Columbine
  • Tribe Zemerini
    • Dodona
      Dodona (genus)
      The Punches are a genus of butterflies found in Asia.-Description:Fore wing broad, short, triangular; costa very slightly-arched ; apex subacute; termen slightly convex; tornus angulate; dorsum straight; cell comparatively broad, about half length of wing; veins 6 and 7 from upper apex of cell,...

      – punches
    • Zemeros

Life cycle

The eggs vary in shape but often appear round and flattened. The caterpillar
Caterpillars are the larval form of members of the order Lepidoptera . They are mostly herbivorous in food habit, although some species are insectivorous. Caterpillars are voracious feeders and many of them are considered to be pests in agriculture...

s are usually hairy, plump, and are the common overwintering stage. Pupa
A pupa is the life stage of some insects undergoing transformation. The pupal stage is found only in holometabolous insects, those that undergo a complete metamorphosis, going through four life stages; embryo, larva, pupa and imago...

e are hairy and attached with silk to either the host plant or to ground debris or leaf litter. There is no cocoon.

Several genera of Riodinidae have evolved intimate associations with ants, and their larvae are tended and defended by ant associates. This also is the case with several linages of Lycaenidae and contributed to arguments for the uniting the two families. It is now recognized that myrmecophily arose several times among Riodinidae and Lycaenidae clades.


The larvae feed on plants of the families Araceae
Araceae are a family of monocotyledonous flowering plants in which flowers are borne on a type of inflorescence called a spadix. The spadix is usually accompanied by, and sometimes partially enclosed in, a spathe or leaf-like bract. Also known as the Arum family, members are often colloquially...

, Asteraceae
The Asteraceae or Compositae , is an exceedingly large and widespread family of vascular plants. The group has more than 22,750 currently accepted species, spread across 1620 genera and 12 subfamilies...

, Bromeliaceae
Bromeliaceae is a family of monocot flowering plants of around 3,170 species native mainly to the tropical Americas, with a few species found in the American subtropics and one in tropical west Africa, Pitcairnia feliciana...

, Bombacaceae
Bombacaceae is a family of flowering plants or Angiospermae included within Malvales order. As is true for any botanical name, circumscription and status of the taxon has varied with taxonomic point of view...

, Cecropiaceae, Clusiaceae
The Clusiaceae or Guttiferae Juss. is a family of plants formerly including about 37 genera and 1610 species of trees and shrubs, often with milky sap and fruits or capsules for seeds. It is primarily tropical...

, Dilleniaceae
Dilleniaceae is the botanical name for a family of flowering plants. Such a family has been universally recognized by taxonomists. It is known to gardeners for the genus Hibbertia, which contains many commercially valuable garden species....

, Euphorbiaceae
Euphorbiaceae, the Spurge family are a large family of flowering plants with 300 genera and around 7,500 species. Most are herbs, but some, especially in the tropics, are also shrubs or trees. Some are succulent and resemble cacti....

, Fabaceae
The Fabaceae or Leguminosae, commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family, is a large and economically important family of flowering plants. The group is the third largest land plant family, behind only the Orchidaceae and Asteraceae, with 730 genera and over 19,400 species...

, Lecythidaceae
The Lecythidaceae comprise a family of about 20 genera and 250-300 species of woody plants native to tropical South America and Madagascar.According to the most recent molecular analysis of Lecythidaceae The Lecythidaceae comprise a family of about 20 genera and 250-300 species of woody plants...

, Loranthaceae
Loranthaceae is a family of flowering plants, which has been universally recognized by taxonomists. It consists of about 75 genera and 1,000 species of woody plants, many of them hemi-parasites, all of them except three having the mistletoe habit...

, Malpighiaceae
Malpighiaceae is a family of flowering plants in the order Malpighiales. It comprises approximately 75 genera and 1300 species, all of which are native to the tropics and subtropics...

, Marantaceae
The Marantaceae or arrowroot family is a family of flowering plants known for its large starchy rhizomes. It is sometimes called the prayer-plant family...

, Melastomataceae
right|thumb|200px|Characteristic venation of many melastomesThe family Melastomataceae is a taxon of dicotyledonous flowering plants found mostly in the tropics comprising some 200 genera and 4500 species...

, Myrtaceae
The Myrtaceae or Myrtle family are a family of dicotyledon plants, placed within the order Myrtales. Myrtle, clove, guava, feijoa, allspice, and eucalyptus belong here. All species are woody, with essential oils, and flower parts in multiples of four or five...

, Orchidaceae
The Orchidaceae, commonly referred to as the orchid family, is a morphologically diverse and widespread family of monocots in the order Asparagales. Along with the Asteraceae, it is one of the two largest families of flowering plants, with between 21,950 and 26,049 currently accepted species,...

, Rubiaceae
The Rubiaceae is a family of flowering plants, variously called the coffee family, madder family, or bedstraw family. The group contains many commonly known plants, including the economically important coffee , quinine , and gambier , and the horticulturally valuable madder , west indian jasmine ,...

, Sapindaceae
Sapindaceae, also known as the soapberry family, is a family of flowering plants in the order Sapindales. There are about 140-150 genera with 1400-2000 species, including maple, horse chestnut and lychee....

, Zingiberaceae
Zingiberaceae, or the Ginger family, is a family of flowering plants consisting of aromatic perennial herbs with creeping horizontal or tuberous rhizomes, comprising ca. 52 genera and more than 1300 species, distributed throughout tropical Africa, Asia, and the Americas.Many species are important...

 as well as bryophytes and lichens.

External links

  • TOL - Implied clade inks to species lists.
  • TOL Images 3 pages.
  • LEPINDEX Taxonomy project of Natural History Museum, London
  • Idaho Museum of Natural History
  • Calephelis virginiensis, little metalmark on the UF
    University of Florida
    The University of Florida is an American public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university located on a campus in Gainesville, Florida. The university traces its historical origins to 1853, and has operated continuously on its present Gainesville campus since September 1906...

     / IFAS
    Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
    The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is a federal-state-county partnership dedicated to developing knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences, and enhancing and sustaining the quality of human life by making that information...

     Featured Creatures Web site
  • Mariposas mexicana Excellent high resolution images of Mexican Riodinidae
  • Flickr Riodinidae
  • Neotropical Butterfies Metalmark Gallery
  • Butterflies of America] Images of type specimens
    A holotype is a single physical example of an organism, known to have been used when the species was formally described. It is either the single such physical example or one of several such, but explicitly designated as the holotype...

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