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Lycaenidae [Leach] 1815

Gossamer-winged butterflies

Andrew V. Z. Brower
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  Feniseca tarquinius
taxon links [up-->]Poritiinae [up-->]Lycaeninae [up-->]Curetinae [up-->]Theclinae [up-->]Aphnaeinae [up-->]Polyommatinae [up-->]Miletinae [down<--]Papilionoidea Interpreting the tree
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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). The vast majority of lycaenids are in the clade that includes the blues (Polyommatinae), coppers (Lycaeninae) and hairstreaks (Theclinae). Eliot (who viewed these taxa as tribes of a more inclusive Lycaeninae in Corbet et al. 1992) implied that Aphnaeinae is the sister group to the other three subfamilies based on characters of the larval head capsule.

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

The higher classification of Lycaenidae is currently in flux. The subfamilies, tribes and subtribes enumerated within this clade are for the most part the groups listed by Eliot (1973, 1992 [in Corbet et al.]). Note that the higher classifications presented by Eliot in 1973 and 1992 differ from one another in that the 1992 version reduced the three diverse subfamilies Lycaeninae, Polyommatinae and Theclinae to tribes within an inclusive "Lycaeninae," in order to reflect their affinity to one another with respect to Curetinae, Poritiinae and Miletinae. That change has not been generally adopted by the lycaenid research community (R. K. Robbins, pers. comm, 4/08), and has not been incorporated here. Note also that Eliot's classification was intuitive, and the monophyly and implied relationships among these groups should therefore 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 shown among the four subfamilies are those inferred by Wahlberg et al. (2005).

Other Names for Lycaenidae [Leach] 1815


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
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Scientific Name Lycaena dispar
Location “Bosco della Panfilia” Park, Ferrara Province, Emilia Romagna, Italy
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Image Use creative commons This media file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 2.0.
Copyright © 2005 Cesare Brizio
Scientific Name Strymon melinus and Echinargus isola
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Copyright © Melody Lytle
Feniseca tarquinius
Scientific Name Feniseca tarquinius
Location Durham County, North Carolina USA
Comments Captured, posed.
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Identified By Patrick Coin
Life Cycle Stage adult (imago)
View lateral
Image Use creative commons This media file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 2.5.
Copyright © 2006 Patrick Coin
About This Page

Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA

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

Page: Tree of Life Lycaenidae [Leach] 1815. Gossamer-winged butterflies. Authored by 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.

Citing this page:

Brower, Andrew V. Z. 2008. Lycaenidae [Leach] 1815. Gossamer-winged butterflies. Version 25 April 2008 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Lycaenidae/12175/2008.04.25 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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