Plants and Animals

Calephelis muticum Swamp metalmark

species photo

Key Characteristics

Wingspan 1-1.3 inches (2.5-3.3 cm). The apex of the forewing is pointed. A small, orange-brown butterfly with metallic markings. Upper surfaces are red-brown with small black spots and two rows of metallic spots. Undersurfaces are bright orange with small black and metallic spots. Caterpillars are green with black dots and covered with long, white hairs and resemble a tiger moth caterpillar.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: E - Endangered (legally protected)
Global Rank: G3 - Vulnerable
State Rank: S1 - Critically imperiled


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Barry 1 1959
Berrien 1 1980
Cass 2 1980
Clinton 1 1970
Hillsdale 1 2005
Ionia 1 1953
Jackson 3 2008
Kalamazoo 2 1987
Kent 3 1964
Lenawee 1 1999
Livingston 1 1934
Montcalm 1 1953
Oakland 4 2008
Shiawassee 1 1981
St. Joseph 1 1956
Washtenaw 5 1988
Wayne 1 1930

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Marshes, wet meadows, openings in tamarack-poison sumac fens, and shrubby cinquefoil seeps.

Specific Habitat Needs

Host plant needed in: Emergent marshPrairie fenSouthern wet meadow.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Threats to the swamp metalmark include habitat loss, degradation and/or fragmentation due to conversion to agricultural lands; industrial, residential and/or recreational development; altered fire regime; dams; altered hydrologic regimes; pollution; grazing and mowing patterns (vegetative succession); encroachment by shrubs and invasive species; and wetland modifications. Additional threats to this species include use of pesticides and herbicides and a lack of knowledge concerning the species. The sites at which this species has been documented should be protected and maintained. Adequate suitable habitat needs to be maintained at known sites including sufficient densities of the species' host plant, swamp thistle. Maintenance and long-term preservation of the habitats with which this species is associated may include maintaining and/or restoring hydrology, controlling invasive plants and controlling vegetative succession through promotion or replication of natural disturbance regimes and other ecological processes that drive the persistence and establishment of these natural communities (e.g., fire, beaver flooding). Prescribed burning can be used as a management tool to try to re-establish or replicate natural fire regimes in these habitats (e.g., prairie fens). In areas where this species or other rare invertebrates occur or are of management concern, burning strategies should allow for ample refugia (e.g., only burning part of the available habitat at a time, burn frequency and intensity, type of fire, etc.) to minimize incidental take or other potential adverse impacts and facilitate effective post-burn survival and/or recolonization.

Active Period

Flight from first week of July to second week of August

Survey Methods

The best way to survey for this species is by conducting visual meander surveys which consists of checking for this species near larval food plants and on adult nectar sources.

Visual, aerial net

Survey Period: From first week of July to second week of August

Time of Day: Daytime


Survey References

  • Klots, A.B. 1951. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 349pp.
  • Martin, J.E.H. 1977. The Insects and Arachnids of Canada (Part 1): Collecting, preparing, and preserving insects, mites, and spiders. Publication 1643. Biosystematics Research Institute, Ottawa.

Technical References

  • Bouseman, J.K. and J.G. Sternburg. 2001. Field Guide to Butterflies of Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign. 264pp.
  • Chapman, K.A., M.A. White, M.R. Huffman, and D. Faber-Langendoen. 1995. Ecology and stewardship guidelines for oak-barrens landscapes in the upper Midwest. Pp. 1-29 in F. Stearns and K. Holland, eds. Proc.of the Midwest Oak Savanna Conference, 1993. U.S. EPA, Internet Pubs. Available:
  • Glassberg, J. 1999. Butterflies through Binoculars: The East. Oxford University Press, New York. 242pp.
  • Klots, A.B. 1951. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 349pp.
  • Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 1995. Forest stewardship training materials for oak-pine barrens ecosystem. Unpublished manuscript. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI.
  • Nielsen, M.C. 1999. Michigan butterflies and skippers: A field guide and reference. Michigan State University Extension Bulletin E-2675, East Lansing. 248pp.
  • Spieles, J.B., P.J. Comer, D.A. Albert, and M.A. Kost. 1999. Natural community abstract for prairie fen. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 4 pp.
  • Stehr, F. W. 1997. Michigan Lepidoptera Survey Sites and Seasonal Occurrence of Michigan's Listed Species Annual Report 1997. 30 pp.+ MI Lepidoptera Survey Data Collection Form

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