Metalmark (Riodinidae)

Riodinidae is the name given to the family of metalmark butterflies that are small or medium-sized, having 146 genera and 1532 species.

Types of Metalmark Butterfly

Types of Metalmark Butterfly

Butterflies In This Family

HarlequinBlue MetalmarkSwamp Metalmark

Description and Identification


The caterpillars of this family are longish with a plump and hairy appearance.


The chrysalis has a hairy body attached to the leaf litter, host plants or ground debris. They have a light green body with dots of white.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Color and Appearance: The colorations differ from one butterfly species to the other as those in the temperate zones have iridescent green and blue wings, while tropical species possess transparent wings. The wings have silvery or golden metallic spots, seen when they are opened or closed.

The males possess reduced forelegs, while in the females it is full-sized and completely functional.

Average wingspan: 12 mm -60 mm (0.47 inches to 2.36 inches)

Flight pattern:  Fast and erratic


They differ in shape, being flat and round, though some may resemble a turban or dome.

Quick Facts

Distribution Throughout the New World
Habitat In the rain forest regions of South America, as well as in grasslands, gardens, and fields.
Host plants Species of roadside thistle, marsh thistle, passionflower, and albizia
Adult diet Flower nectar

Did You Know

  • The small, metallic-like spots on their body earn them their name metalmark.
  • They have many similarities with their sister family¬† Gossamer-winged (Lycaenidae) in several aspects
  • Many species of the Riodinidae genera are intimately associated with ants, with the larvae often being defended and tended by the latter.