Under Construction
This is an archived version of a Tree of Life page. For up-to-date information, please refer to the current version of this page.

Lycaenidae Leach 1815

Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Cotton square borer
taxon links [down<--]Papilionoidea Interpreting the tree
close box

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.

example of a tree diagram

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.

For more information on ToL tree formatting, please see Interpreting the Tree or Classification. To learn more about phylogenetic trees, please visit our Phylogenetic Biology pages.

close box
Containing group: Papilionoidea


The Lycaenidae as construed here includes the blues, coppers and hairstreaks, but not the metalmarks, which are viewed as a sister-family Riodinidae, based on the combined phylogenetic analysis of morphological and molecular data by Wahlberg et al. (2005).

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

The higher classification of Lycaenidae is currently in flux. The subfamilies, tribes and subtribes enumerated herein are those listed by Eliot (1973, 1992 [in Corbet et al.]), but the monophyly and implied relationships among these must be viewed as tentative, pending revelations from the large amount of molecular evidence that is currently being gathered by Naomi Pierce and colleagues. The relationships among the four subfamilies are those inferred by Wahlberg et al. (2005).


Ackery, P. R., R. de Jong, and R. I. Vane-Wright. 1999. The butterflies: Hedyloidea, Hesperioidea, and Papilionoidea. Pages 264-300 in: Lepidoptera: Moths and Butterflies. 1. Evolution, Systematics, and Biogeography. Handbook of Zoology Vol. IV, Part 35. N. P. Kristensen, ed. De Gruyter, Berlin and New York.

Corbet A. S., Pendlebury H. M., and Eliot J. N. 1992. The butterflies of the Malay Peninsula. Malayan Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur.

Eliot J. N. 1973. The higher classification of the Lycaenidae (Lepidoptera): a tentative arrangement. Bull. Br. Mus. Nat. Hist. (Ent.) 28: 371-505, 6 pls.

Wahlberg N, Braby MF, Brower AVZ, de Jong R, Lee M-M, Nylin S, Pierce NE, Sperling FAH, Vila R, Warren AD, and Zakharov E. 2005. Synergistic effects of combining morphological and molecular data in resolving the phylogeny of butterflies and skippers. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 272: 1577-1586.

Title Illustrations
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
Cotton square borer
Scientific Name Strymon melinus (Lycaeninae)
Comments Cotton square borer
Acknowledgements Courtesy InsectImages.org (#1226716)
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Copyright © Jerry A. Payne, USDA ARS
About This Page

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Andrew V. Z. Brower at

Citing this page:

Brower, Andrew V. Z. and Maddison, David R. 2007. Lycaenidae Leach 1815. Version 01 April 2007 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Lycaenidae/12175/2007.04.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

edit this page
close box

This page is a Tree of Life Branch Page.

Each ToL branch page provides a synopsis of the characteristics of a group of organisms representing a branch of the Tree of Life. The major distinction between a branch and a leaf of the Tree of Life is that each branch can be further subdivided into descendent branches, that is, subgroups representing distinct genetic lineages.

For a more detailed explanation of the different ToL page types, have a look at the Structure of the Tree of Life page.

close box


Page Content

articles & notes



Explore Other Groups

random page

  go to the Tree of Life home page