True ButterfliesAndrew 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 "true" butterflies are composed of five families - Papilionidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae, Riodinidae and Lycaenidae. There are estimated to be some 13,700 species extant in the world (Robbins, 1982), distributed on every continent except Antarctica, and most remote oceanic islands as well. The greatest diversity occurs in tropical regions, particularly the neotropics.
The hypothesis presented has been repeatedly corroborated by numerous authors (Kristensen 1976, de Jong et al. 1996, Ackery et al. 1999, 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.
Boggs, C. L., W. B. Watt, and P. R. Ehrlich, eds. 2003. Butterflies: Ecology and Evolution Taking Flight. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.
Campbell, D. L., A. V. Z. Brower, and N. E. Pierce. 2000. Molecular evolution of the wingless gene and its implications for the phylogenetic placement of the butterfly family Riodinidae (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea). Molecular Biology and Evolution 17(5):684-696.
de Jong, R., R. I. Vane-Wright, and P. R. Ackery. 1996. The higher classification of butterflies (Lepidoptera): problems and prospects. Entomologica Scandinavica 27(1):65-101.
Kristensen N. P. 1976. Remarks on the family-level phylogeny of butterflies (Insecta, Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera). Zeit. Zool. Syst. Evol. 14: 25-33.
Kristensen, N. P. and A. W. Skalski. 1999. Phylogeny and paleontology. Pages 7-25 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.
Minet, J. 1991. Tentative Reconstruction of the ditrysian phylogeny (Lepidiptera, Gloassata). Entomologica Scandinavica 22(1):69-95.
Paulus, H. F., and H. W. Krenn. 1996. Comparative morphology of the butterfly proboscis and its sensilla - A contribution to the phylogenetic systematics of Papilionoidea (Insecta, Lepidoptera). Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 34(4):203-216.
Robbins R. K. 1982. How many butterfly species? News Lepid. Soc. 1982: 40-41.
Wahlberg, N., M. F. Braby, A. V. Z. Brower, R. de Jong, M.-M. Lee, S. Nylin, N. E. Pierce, F. A. H. Sperling, R. Vila, A. D. Warren, and E. Zakharov. 2005. Synergistic effects of combining morphological and molecular data in resolving the phylogeny of butterflies and skippers. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B 272:1577-1586.
Weller, S. J. and D. P. Pashley. 1995. In seach of butterfly origins. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 4(3):235-246.
- Butterflies and Moths of North America. Occurrence maps, species accounts, checklists, and photographs.
- Mariposas Mexicanas: Interactive Listing of Mexican Butterflies. Warren, A. D., J. E. Llorente-Bousquets, A. Luis-Mart?nez & I. Vargas-Fern?ndez.
- Neotropical Butterflies. A Photo Gallery featuring butterflies from Mexico through Central America to Amazonia and Argentina.
- Butterflies and Moths of the Netherlands.
- FieldGuides: Butterflies. enature.com
- BugGuide.Net: Superfamily Papilionoidea - Butterflies. Identification, Images, & Information For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin For the United States & Canada.
- Butterflies of Southeastern Arizona. Bruce Walsh, University of Arizona.
- Butterflies at the Field Museum. The Field Museum, Chicago.
- The Butterfly Conservatory. Movie clips and live butterfly web cam. American Museum of Natural History, New York.
- North American Butterfly Association (NABA). A membership-based not-for-profit organization working to increase public enjoyment and conservation of butterflies.
- Butterfly Conservation. Protecting wild butterflies and their habitats in the UK.
- Where do butterflies come from?. An activity for children. Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Andrew V. Z. Brower at
Page copyright © 2007
- Content changed 01 April 2007
Citing this page:
Brower, Andrew V. Z. 2007. Papilionoidea http://tolweb.org/Papilionoidea/12027/2007.04.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/. True Butterflies. Version 01 April 2007 (under construction).