A Brushfoot Fetish

The Nymphalidae family of butterflies are called brushfoot butterflies because the front pair of legs are greatly reduced and the hairs on those legs remind some people of little brushes.  The legs are difficult to spot in the field, but sometimes can be seen on a good photograph.  I thought it might be interesting to show a little gallery of the legs of different species to compare them.


The brushfoot can be seen on this American lady right behind the eye, and pointing down.  It is fairly large on this species.


This photo might show the brush better than any other photo I have.  It starts near the bottom of the eye and goes straight down.  The foot of this red admiral clearly has a lot of hair and does look like a brush.


The brushfoot on this mourning cloak is a little harder to pick out of the background, but if you look at the back of the eye you can follow it down.


They are easy to spot on this Baltimore checkerspot because all of the legs, functional or not, have a contrasting orange color.


On pearl crescents, the non-functional legs are skinny and don’t have much hair.


The legs are extremely difficult to spot on monarchs.  I think that in this photo the leg comes down vertically from the eye, and has a long white mark but is black on the tip.  I have looked at my photos of monarchs and have not found a better picture.  It does not show up well because the white dash breaks up the profile.


I had to show all of this winter form common buckeye.  The brushfoot is clearly visible behind the eye and going back along the body.



About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
This entry was posted in butterflies, common buckeye, Junonia coenia, pearl crescent, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Brushfoot Fetish

  1. Dory Owen says:

    Sitting in our truck camper in dark of night watching what we thought was a moth coming to the light outside window. But it’s a winter form Buckeye! Used your post & photo to confirm. Thanks!

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