The Metalmark Butterfly - Riodinidae Family

Photo: Morley Read


The metalmark butterfly, also known as Jewelmark, has wings that are metallic in appearance due to the gold, silver, copper and glittery jewel-tone butterfly scales.  Overall, when combined together this family would be the most colorful of all the butterfly families.

Sometimes they are classified as a sub-family to the Lycaenidae family of butterfly species, but this remains an ongoing debate.  Scientifically their molecular and anatomical structures are similar but still suggest a separate group.


There are approximately 1300 species of Metalmarks worldwide and are found in tropical environments. Because of this they are also referred to as Rainforest Butterflies.  The majority are located in the Central and South American tropical regions.  In North America there are roughly 24 species, all with checkered red-brown and orange patterns.

Metalmark butterfly are small to medium in size (7/8 inch - 2 inches) and often rest with their wings open and flat.  They prefer to be move about inconspicuously and when it comes to butterfly mating the males perch on host plants.


Riodinidae family
butterfly larva look like tiny snails and, like those of the Lycaenidae family, have relationships with ants.  Larvae are taken into ant nests by attracting them with honeydew.  To receive proteins, caterpillar eat the ant larva and are able to keep ants away by emitting a clicking noise.  After it's pupa stage, the emerging butterfly leaves the nest while the ants are inactive.




This beautiful picture shows the jewel-like tones on the wings of the Greenmark Butterflies
(Caria mantinea). Click to enlarge.



Photo: Jenn Sinasac








Riodinidae are sometimes referred to the Nemeobiidae family.  They are the same thing.  Riodinidae is English and Nemeobiidae is Latin.





Photo: Robin Van Olderen



Many of these tropical butterflies are found running along the lower edges of the United States.  Swamp Metalmarks are the exception. 


Found around the Great Lakes region, numbers are decreasing putting Swamp metalmark butterfly species on endangered lists.


Photo: Nick Vermeulen



Common butterflies found in the United States include:


Fatal Metalmark (Calephelis nemesis), Mormon Metalmark (Apodemia mormo), Palmer's Metalmark (Apodemia palmeri), Red-bordered Metalmarks (Caria ino) -
All found in Southwest up into the Rockies.


Some Hermodora species (left) are found along the southern U.S. border while most live south into Central and South America.

Photo: Nick Vermeulen





Duke of Burgundy
(Hamearis lucina)


Endangered butterfly species that is found in the United Kingdom

Photo: whiskybottle




Below are three different films from pedromariposa showing a wide variety of different butterflies from this species filmed in Bolivia.  There is only introduction and exit music.  During the film you will hear the natural environment of water falls, crickets, etc..

If you don't have time to watch all of them just go to the last
video on the page.  It's great!!


Each film has different butterflies so there is no repetition. 

We are more familiar with the Greta-Oto, about 1/3 of the way in on the above film (part 1) reveals another very impressive Glasswing butterfly.



Really cool, about 2/3 into this last film (part 3)
there is a swarm of different butterflies puddling.



This film is so fun and has a lot of energy.  There is great music and it is a montage of different butterflies found in Bolivia.







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