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Manitoba Museum

Butterflies and Moths (Lepidoptera)

Brush-footed Butterflies


This is one of the largest and most diverse butterfly families, and includes the Admirals, Fritillaries, Checkerspots, and Crescents. There are 40 known species here in Manitoba. Some species, the Painted Lady for example, are well known for their annual migrations. Others hibernate as adults, often in wood or lumber piles. Adults feed on flower nectar and tree sap. The larval food plants of many species include flowering plants, shrubs, and trees.

Representative Genera and Species:

Clossiana bellona, Limenitis weidemeyerii

Pollinator Life Cycle:

Females often lay their eggs on a variety of plants, either on or near larval host plants. They may have more than one brood per year. Larvae often have spines, and form chrysalids that hang upside down. Most species hibernate in this stage or as pupae, but some also over-winter as adults.

Rarity Status:

Most species are not considered rare in Canada. The Weidemeyer’s Admiral is protected under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. The provincial and national status of other assessed Canadian species ranges from “secure” to “extirpated”.

Physical Appearance:

These butterflies have undersized front legs that lack claws and are not used for walking. They are medium to large (25 mm to 90 mm across), and have visibly knobbed antennae. Their jagged or curved wings are brightly coloured in shades of brown, orange, white, and black. Wing patterns vary, and include spots, checkers, coloured bands, triangles, and commas. Larvae are usually brown or black, and sometimes covered with spines.

Pollinator Habitat:

These butterflies are so diverse that they have been located in almost all terrestrial habitats, including wetlands, prairies, and woods. They tend to be found in places where their food plants are growing.

Canadian Distribution:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland/Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

Prairie Types:

  • Fescue Prairie
  • Mixed Grass Prairie
  • Tall Grass Prairie
Brush-footed Butterflies