The “Admirals, Tortoiseshells and Comma” are a sub-family of a large family of butterflies, the Nymphalidae, which also includes “the Fritillaries” and “the Browns”. All these butterflies share the characteristic that the front pair of legs are not used as legs, so that the butterflies only use its two rear pairs of legs to stand upon. The front pair of legs are held close to the chest and are covered in hairs that may have a sensory function.
This group of butterflies inhabiting the Northern Hemisphere are characterized by a relatively jagged outline of their wings and with some having the ability to survive the winter months as adults in an obligatory hibernal diapause, hiding in various shelters (e.g., crevices, hollows, cavities, even unheated buildings). The signature mark of many of these butterflies is the cryptic colour and spottiness of the under side of their wings, serving to conceal the hibernating butterfly against the substrate on which it rests.
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