Temporary Page


Moths and Butterflies

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
Snout mothGulf fritillary butterflyElegant sheep moth
taxon links [up-->]Micropterigidae [up-->]Neolepidoptera [up-->]Neopseustidae [up-->]Lophocoronidae [up-->]Eriocraniidae [up-->]Acanthopteroctetidae [up-->]Agathiphagidae [up-->]Heterobathmiidae [down<--]Endopterygota 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
Relationships after Kristensen and Skalski (1999) and Wiegmann et al. (2002).
Containing group: Endopterygota


Most larvae are phytophagous; some eat other insects, a few are ectoparastoids. Most are terrestrial.

Other Names for Lepidoptera


Davis, D. R. 1986. A new family of monotrysian moths from austral South America (Lepidoptera: Palaephatidae), with a phylogenetic review of the Monotrysia. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 434: 1-202.

Friedlander, T. P., J. C. Regier, C. Mitter, and D. L. Wagner. 1996. A nuclear gene for higher level phylogenetics: phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase tracks Mesozoic-aged divergences within Lepidoptera (Insecta). Molecular Biology and Evolution 13:594-604.

Heppner, J. B. 1991. Faunal regions and the diversity of Lepidoptera. Tropical Lepidoptera 2(Supplement 1):1-85.

Kobayashi, Y. and H. Ando. 1988. Phylogenetic relationships among the lepidopteran and trichopteran suborders (Insecta) from the embryological standpoint. Zeitschrift Fuer Zoologische Systematik Und Evolutionsforschung 26(3): 186-210.

Krenn, H. W. and N. P. Kristensen. 2000. Early evolution of the proboscis of Lepidoptera (Insecta): external morphology of the galea in basal glossatan moth lineages, with remarks on the origin of the pilifers. Zoologischer Anzeiger 239:179-196.

Kristensen, N. P. 1984. Studies on the morphology and systematics of primitive Lepidoptera (Insecta). Steenstrupia 10: 141-191.

Kristensen, N. P. 1999. The Non-Glossatan Moths. Pages 41-49 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.

Kristensen, N. P. 1999. The Homoneurous Glossata. Pages 51-63 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.

Kristensen, N. P., M. Scoble, and O. Karsholt. 2007. Lepidoptera phylogeny and systematics: the state of inventorying moth and butterfly diversity. Pages 699-747 in: Zhang, Z.-Q. & Shear, W.A., eds. Linnaeus Tercentenary: Progress in Invertebrate Taxonomy. Zootaxa 1668:1–766.

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.

Nielsen, E. S. 1985. Primitive (non-ditrysian) Lepidoptera of the Andes: diversity, distribution, biology and phylogenetic relationships. In G. Lamas (ed.), Second Symposium on Neotropical Lepidoptera. Arequipa, Peru 1983. Santa Barbara, CA, Lepidoptera Research Foundation. 1-16.

Nielsen, E. S. 1989. Phylogeny of major lepidopteran groups. In B. Fernholm, K. Bremer and H. Jörnvall (ed.), The Hierarchy of Life. Amsterdam, Elsevier. 281-294.

Nielsen, E. S. and N. P. Kristensen, N. P. 1996. The Australian moth family Lophocoronidae and the basal phylogeny of the Lepidoptera Glossata. Invertebrate Taxonomy 10:1199-1302.

Robbins, R. K. 1988. Comparative morphology of the butterfly foreleg coxa and trochanter (Lepidoptera) and its systematic implications. Proceedings Of The Entomological Society Of Washington 90(2): 133-154.

Scoble, M. J. 1992. The Lepidoptera: Form, Function and Diversity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Shields, O. 1988. Mesozoic history and neontology of Lepidoptera in relation to Trichoptera, Mecoptera, and angiosperms. Journal Of Paleontology 62(2): 251-258.

Simonsen, T. J. 2001. The wing vestiture of the non-ditrysian Lepidoptera (Insecta). Comparative morphology and phylogenetic implications. Acta Zoologica 82(4): 275-298.

Sonnenschein, M. and C. L. Haeuser. 1990. Presence of only eupyrene spermatozoa in adult males of the genus Micropterix Huebner and its phylogenetic significance (Lepidoptera: Zeugloptera, Micropterigidae). International Journal Of Insect Morphology And Embryology 19(5-6): 269-276.

Stekol'nikov, A. A. and M. A. Pyatin. 1990. Evolution of the female reproductive system of Lepidoptera: The genital ducts, spermatheca, bursa copulatrix, colleterial glands. Entomologicheskoe Obozrenie 69(4): 747-763.

Whalley, P. 1986. A review of the current fossil evidence of Lepidoptera in the Mesozoic. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 28(3):253-272.

Wiegmann, B. M., C. Mitter, J. C. Regier, T. P. Friedlander, D. M. Wagner, and E. S. Nielsen. 2000. Nuclear genes resolve Mesozoic-aged divergences in the insect order Lepidoptera. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 15:242-259.

Wiegmann, B. M., J. C. Regier, and C. Mitter. 2002. Combined molecular and morphological evidence on the phylogeny of the earliest lepidopteran lineages. Zoologica Scripta 31:67-81.

Information on the Internet

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
Snout moth
Scientific Name Pyralidae
Location Poco Sol, Costa Rica
Comments Snout moth (Neolepidoptera: Pyraloidea)
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Copyright © 1990 Greg and Marybeth Dimijian
Gulf fritillary butterfly
Scientific Name Agraulis vanillae
Comments Gulf fritillary butterfly (Neolepidoptera: Nymphalidae)
Creator Photograph by Stennett S. Heaton
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Source Agraulis vanillae; Gulf Fritillary butterfly
Source Collection CalPhotos
Copyright © 2001 California Academy of Sciences
Elegant sheep moth
Scientific Name Hemileuca eglanterina
Location Mima Prairie, Thurston County (Washington, US)
Comments Elegant sheep moth (Neolepidoptera: Saturniidae)
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Source Hemileuca eglanterina; Elegant Sheep Moth
Source Collection CalPhotos
Copyright © 1999
About This Page

Page: Tree of Life Lepidoptera. Moths and Butterflies. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 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.

Citing this page:

Tree of Life Web Project. 2003. Lepidoptera. Moths and Butterflies. Version 01 January 2003 (temporary). http://tolweb.org/Lepidoptera/8231/2003.01.01 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