Milkweed ButterfliesNiklas Wahlberg and Andrew V. Z. Brower
This tree diagram shows the relationships between several groups of organisms.
The root of the current tree connects the organisms featured in this tree to their containing group and the rest of the Tree of Life. The basal branching point in the tree represents the ancestor of the other groups in the tree. This ancestor diversified over time into several descendent subgroups, which are represented as internal nodes and terminal taxa to the right.
You can click on the root to travel down the Tree of Life all the way to the root of all Life, and you can click on the names of descendent subgroups to travel up the Tree of Life all the way to individual species.close box
The Danaini (milkweed butterflies) are a pantropical group with their main area of diversification in southeast Asia and Australasia. One of the world's most familiar and widespread butterfly species, the monarch (Danaus plexippus), is a member of this clade. Virtually all species of danaines are aposematically-colored and are mimicked by other danaines as well as a wide range of palatable Batesian mimics in Nymphalidae, Pieridae and Papilionidae.
Adult male Danaini have eversible abdominal androconial structures called hairpencils that are a uniquely-derived synapomorphy among butterflies. Larvae are usually aposematic, and possess fleshy tubercles on at least the second and eleventh segments. All danaines sequester compounds from their larval host plants (cardenolides and pyrrolizidine alkaloids) that make them distasteful to predators.
Larva of Danaus chrysippus, Nigeria: Port Harcourt. © 2009 Dirk Motshagen
The tree is based upon the morphological cladistic analysis of Ackery & Vane-Wright (1984) and largely corroborated by molecular data (Brower & Wahlberg unpubl.)
Ackery PR, and Vane-Wright RI. 1984. Milkweed butterflies. British Museum (Natural History), London.
Vane-Wright RI, Boppré M, and Ackery PR. 2002. Miriamica, a new genus of milkweed butterflies with unique androconial organs (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Zoologischer Anzeiger 241: 255-267.
University of Turku, Finland
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Niklas Wahlberg at and Andrew V. Z. Brower at
Page copyright © 2010 Niklas Wahlberg and
Page: Tree of Life Danaini Authored by . Milkweed Butterflies.Niklas Wahlberg and Andrew V. Z. Brower. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.
- First online 25 September 2006
- Content changed 09 February 2010
Citing this page:
Wahlberg, Niklas and Andrew V. Z. Brower. 2010. Danaini http://tolweb.org/Danaini/27571/2010.02.09 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. Milkweed Butterflies. Version 09 February 2010 (under construction).