Aspects of the natural history and early stage morphology of the nonmyrmecophilous butterfly Caria plutargus (F.) (Lepidoptera: Riodinidae) are described. Immature stages were observed through scanning electron microscopy, emphasizing larval structures that may be related to myrmecophily or not. The larvae have several types of setae (balloon, echinoid, dendritic, plumose) and perforated cupola organs. The presence of balloon setae in C. plutargus is the first record for Riodinini. These structures have been described for some Riodinidae tribes, such as Nymphidiini and Helicopini, and also for some taxa in the incertae sedis section. The literature has proposed that balloon setae play a role in the symbiosis between larvae and ants in myrmecophilous riodinids. However, the discovery of balloon setae in nonmyrmecophilous riodinids spurs a new debate concerning the function and evolution of these specialized setae (Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 97: 310–321, 2004). The morphological and behavioral traits here described are discussed in the context of defense against predators.
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