IthomiiniAndrew V. Z. Brower and Chris Jiggins
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 ithomiine butterflies are a diverse neotropical group of approximately 370 species that show huge diversity of colour pattern and form (Lamas 2004). Most species are involved in Müllerian mimicry with one another and serve as models in mimicry complexes with other Lepidoptera, including the heliconiines and the danaine genus Lycorea.
The chemical ecology of these butterflies is fairly well known. Larvae of relatively basal Tithoreina feed on host plants in the family Apocynaceae, a host plant group shared with the related danaine butterflies. Most species, however feed on the Solanaceae (nightshades), which is a very speciose and chemically diverse plant family. Most ithomiines are thought to be distasteful to predators, but interestingly some species do not sequester chemicals from their larval host plants (Brown 1984a & b). Instead the males collect pyrrolizidine alkaloids from flowers (especially Asteraceae) and rotting leaves (mainly of Boraginaceae). This may be an adaptation to reduce dependence on larval host plant chemicals (Brown, 1987).
The most recent revision of ithomiine sub-tribal and generic nomenclature is in the Checklist of Neotropical Lepidoptera (Lamas 2004), upon which the names in this tree and its subtrees are based. Lamas (2004), as well as Willmott and Freitas (2006) view Ithomiinae as a subfamily. Here, the clade is treated as a tribe, in order to accommodate the well-supported monophyly of (Danaini , Tellervini , Ithomiini) as a subfamily within Nymphalidae. Thus, Lamas' tribal names are listed here as subtribes.
The topology is derived from two recent works: the DNA sequence-based phylogenetic hypothesis of Brower et al. (2006), and the extensive morphological work of Willmott and Freitas (2006). It is based in part upon an unpublished combination of data from both. The phylogenetic affinities of three taxa (Eutresis, Haenschia and Aremfoxia) whose phylogenetic positions were not well resolved in Willmott and Freitas (2006) and were not sampled by Brower et al. (2006) are indicated as uncertain.
A few genera are likely paraphyletic with respect to others as currently circumscribed: molecular and morphological evidence both suggest that Pagyris is paraphyletic with respect to Placidina, Hypothyris is paraphyletic with respect to Hyalyris, Episcada is paraphyletic with respect to Ceratinia, Greta is paraphyletic with respect to Pseudoscada. The morphological data further suggests paraphyly of Godyris and Hypoleria.
Several generic names have been synonymized recently. These include:
- Ceratiscada Brown & d'Almeida 1970 (synonymized with Episcada)
- Dygoris Fox 1945 (synonymized with Godyris)
- Garsauritis d'Almeida 1938 (synonymized with Hypothyris)
- Hypomenitis Fox 1945 (synonymized with Greta)
- Ollantaya Brown & Freitas 1994 (synonymized with Oleria)
- Prittwitzia Brown & Ebert 1970 (synonymized with Episcada)
- Rhodussa d'Almeida 1939 (synonymized with Hypothyris)
- Roswellia Fox 1948 (synonymized with Athesis)
- Talamancana Haber, Brown & Freitas 1994 (synonymized with Pteronymia)
Brower A. V. Z., A. V. L. Freitas, M.-M. Lee, K. L. Silva-Brandao, A. Whinnett, and K. R. Willmott. 2006. Phylogenetic relationships among the Ithomiini (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) inferred from one mitchondrial and two nuclear gene regions. Syst. Ent. 31: 288-301.
Brown, K. S. 1984. Adult-obtained pyrrolizidine alkaloids defend ithomiine butterflies against a spider predator. Nature (London) 309:707-709.
Brown, K. S. 1984. Chemical ecology of dehydropyrrolizidine alkaloids in adult Ithomiinae (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Rev. Brasil. Biol. 44:435-460.
Brown, K. S. 1987. Chemistry at the Solanaceae/Ithomiinae interface. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 74:341-358.
Brown, K. S., and A. V. L. Freitas. 1994. Juvenile stages of Ithomiinae: overview and systematics (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Tropical Lepidoptera 5:9-20.
Fox, R. M. 1940. A generic review of the Ithomiinae (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Transactions of the American Entomological Society 66:161-207.
Fox, R. M. 1968. Ithomiidae (Lepidoptera: Nymphaloidea) of Central America. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 94:155-208.
Lamas, G. 2004. Ithomiinae in J. B. Heppner, ed. Atlas of Neotropical Lepidoptera. Checklist: Part 4A. Hesperioidea - Papilionoidea. Association for Tropical Lepidoptera/Scientific Publishers, Gainsville.
Mallarino, R., E. Bermingham, K. R. Willmott, A. Whinnett, and C. D. Jiggins. 2004. Molecular systematics of the butterfly genus Ithomia (Lepidoptera: Ithomiinae): a composite phylogenetic hypothesis based on seven genes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34:625-644.
Willmott, K. R. and A. L. V. Freitas. 2006. Higher-level phylogeny of the Ithomiinae (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) : classification, patterns of larval hostplant colonization and diversification. Cladistics 22: 297-368.
Illustrated checklist of Ithomiinae
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Andrew V. Z. Brower at and Chris Jiggins at
Page copyright © 2005 and Chris Jiggins
- First online 28 October 2005
- Content changed 15 May 2007
Citing this page:
Brower, Andrew V. Z. and Jiggins, Chris. 2007. Ithomiini http://tolweb.org/Ithomiini/27570/2007.05.15 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. Version 15 May 2007 (under construction).