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Swamp Metalmark (Calephelis muticum)

Swamp Metalmark

Swamp Metalmarks are small butterflies found in parts of the United States. They are thus named because for their affinity for swamp or humid areas, and for having rusty metal-like mark on their wings.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Riodinidae
  • Genus: Calephelis
  • Scientific Name: Calephelis muticum

Description and Identification


Swamp Metalmark Caterpillar c1.staticflickr.com

The mature larva is covered with long, almost-fluffy white hairs that gives it a very unique cotton-like shape. Partially grown larvae overwinter.


Swamp Metalmark Pupa naturemuseum.org

The chrysalis has a dull, more towards the darkish side in varying shades. Larval hairs are present in their bodies, while they remain attached mostly at the underside of their host plants’ leaves.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Not present (or very faintly present, with the females’ wings being slightly rounded)

Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, both the male and the female display two pairs of bright reddish or rusty brown wings that have light checkered patterns on them. When the wings are closed, the wings display a rather simple pattern with a dull orange base having black haphazard marks all over and silvery gray borders.

Swamp Metalmark Female cdn.butterflyatlas.org

Swamp Metalmark Male i.pinimg.com

Average wingspan: 2.4 – 3 cm

Flight pattern: Slow, yet erratic


Turban-shaped eggs that are laid singly on the underside of the host plant

Quick Facts

Distribution Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Iowa and Kentucky
Habitat Swamps, bogs, marshes, and wet meadows
Lifespan of adults 8 to 12 days
Host plants Cirsium muticum (marsh thistle) and Cirsium altissimum (roadside thistle)
Adult diet Flower nectar, with the preferred flower being Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan)

Did You Know?

  • Older caterpillars can chew its host leaves in such a way that leaves a distinct windowpane pattern on them.

Calephelis muticum 

Swamp Metalmark Butterfly wisconsinbutterflies.org

Swamp Metalmark Images c1.staticflickr.com

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