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Taxonomy & Evolution

1 - Taxonomy
2 - Butterfly Families and subfamilies
3 - What is a species ?
4 - Evolution and Speciation
5 - Lepidoptera and the Evolutionary table
6 - Butterfly World Census
The Evolutionary table

The information presented here is based on phylogenetics - the science of using comparative data regarding morphological, ecological and behavioural characteristics, and DNA analysis, to illustrate presumed evolutionary relationships. The phylogenetic tree below indicates that the first insects probably branched off as an evolutionary offshoot from other arthropods ( joint-legged animals with an exoskeleton ) about 500 million years ago. The first Lepidoptera ( butterflies, skippers & moths ) and Trichoptera ( caddisflies ) branched from this offshoot about 200 mya.

The table below indicates the presumed evolutionary relationship between butterflies, skippers and the various moth families. The suborders and families at the top of the table are generally regarded as representing the more primitive Lepidoptera, while those at the bottom are the more advanced and specialised. It can be seen that butterflies are supposedly more "advanced" than most moths, but that there are many moth families that are considered to have evolved after the butterflies.
The section dealing with butterflies, skippers and butterfly-moths has been expanded to show the constituent subfamilies and tribes. Some families have not been sufficiently studied to enable them to be split into subfamilies. Likewise certain members of some subfamilies have not been studied well enough for them to be assigned to existing tribes - these are categorised under the heading Incertae-sedis - meaning 'of uncertain placement'.

Sub-order

Superfamily

Family

Common name

Zeugloptera

Micropterigoidae

Micropterigidae

Mandibulate moths

Aglossata

Agathiphagoidea

Agathiphagidae

Kauri moths

Heterobathmiina

Heterobathmoidea

Heterobathmiidae

Valvidian Archaic moths

Glossata

Eriocranioidea

Eriocraniidae

Sparkling Archaic Sun moths

 

 

Acanthopteroctetidae

Archaic Sun moths

 

Lophocoronoidea

Lophocoronidae

Australian Archaic Sun moths

 

Neopseustoidea

Neopseustidae

Archaic Bell moths

 

Mnesarchaeoidea

Mnesarchaeidae

New Zealand Primitive moths

 

Hepialoidea

Neotheoridae

Amazon Primitive Ghost moths

 

 

Anomosetidae

Australian primitive Ghost moths

 

 

Prototheoridae

African Primitive Ghost moths

 

 

Hepialidae

Ghost moths

 

 

Palaeosetidae

Miniature Ghost moths

Monotrysia

Andesianoidea

Andesianidae

Valvidian Forest moths

 

Nepticuloidea

Nepticulidae

Pygmy moths

 

 

Opostegidae

Eye-cap moths

 

Tischerioidea

Tischeriidae

Trumpet Leafminer moths

 

Paleaphatoidea

Paleaphatidae

Gondwanaland moths

 

Incurvarioidea

Incurvariidae

Leaf-cutter moths

 

 

Cedidosidae

Gall moths

 

 

Prodoxidae

Yucca moths

 

 

Adelidae

Longhorn Fairy moths

 

 

Heliozelidae

Shield-bearer moths

Ditrysia

Tineoidea

Acrolophidae

Tube moths

 

 

Tineidae

Fungus moths

 

 

Eriocottidae

Spiny-winged moths

 

 

Psychidae

Bagworm moths

 

 

Arrhenophanidae

Tropical Lattice moths

 

 

Amphitheridae

Double-eye moths

 

 

Schreckensteiniidae

Bristle-legged moths

 

 

Douglasiidae

Douglas moths

 

 

Bucculatricidae

Ribbed Cocoon-maker moths

 

 

Gracillariidae

Leafminer moths

 

Gelechioidea

Oecophoridae

Concealer moths

 

 

Lecithoceridae

Tropical Longhorn moths

 

 

Elachistidae

Grass Miner moths

 

 

Pterolonchidae

Lance-winged moths

 

 

Gelechiidae

Twirler moths

 

 

Blastobasidae

Scavenger moths

 

 

Coleophoridae

Case-bearer moths

 

 

Momphidae

Mompha moths

 

 

Aganoxenidae

Palm moths

 

 

Cosmopterigidae

Cosmet moths

 

 

Scythrididae

Flower moths

 

Copromorhoidea

Copromorphidae

Tropical Fruit-worm moths

 

 

Alucitidae

Many-plumed moths

 

 

Carposinidae

Fruit-worm moths

 

 

Epermeniidae

Fringe-tufted moths

 

Yponomeutoidea

Ochsenheimeriidae

Cereal Stem moths

 

 

Glyphipterigidae

Sedge moths

 

 

Plutellidae

Diamond-back moths

 

 

Attevidae

Tropical Ermine moths

 

 

Yponomeutidae

Ermine moths

 

 

Argyresthiidae

Shiny Head-standing moths

 

 

Lyonetiidae

Lyonet moths

 

 

Acrolepiidae

False Diamond-back moths

 

 

Heliodinidae

Sun moths

 

Immoidea

Immidae

Imma moths

 

Pyraloidea

Hyblaeidae

Teak moths

 

 

Thyrididae

Picture-winged Leaf moths

 

 

Pyralidae

Snout moths

 

Pterophoroidea

Tineodidae

False Plume moths

 

 

Oxychirotidae

Tropical Plume moths

 

 

Pterophoridae

Plume moths

 

Sesioidea

Brachodidae

Little Bear moths

 

 

Sesiidae

Clearwing moths

 

 

Urodidae

False Burnet moths

 

 

Choreutidae

Metalmark moths

 

Zygaenoidea

Heterogynidae

Mediterranean Burnet moths

 

 

Zygaenidae

Burnet moths

 

 

Himantopteridae

Long-tailed Burnet moths

 

 

Lacturidae

Tropical Burnet moths

 

 

Somabrachyidae

Mediterranean Flannel moths

 

 

Megalopygidae

Flannel moths

 

Cossoidea

Cossidae

Wood-borer moths

 

 

Dudgeoneidae

Dudgeon Wood-borer moths

 

 

Metarbelidae

Tropical Wood-borer moths

 

 

Cyclotornidae

Australian Parasite moths

 

 

Epipyropidae

Planthopper Parasite moths

 

 

Dalceridae

Tropical Slug-Caterpillar moths

 

 

Limacodidae

Slug-Caterpillar moths

 

 

Chrysopolomidae

African Slug-Caterpillar moths

 

Castnioidea

Castniidae

Giant Butterfly-moths

 

Tortricoidea

Tortricidae

Leaf-roller moths

 

Calliduloidea

Ratardidae

Oriental Parnassian moths

 

 

Pterothysanidae

Parnassian moths

 

 

Callidulidae

Old World Butterfly-moths

 

Geometroidea

Epicopeiidae

Oriental Swallowtail moths

 

 

Apoprogonidae

African Skipper-moths

 

 

Sematuridae

American Swallowtail moths

 

 

Uraniidae

Swallowtail moths

 

 

Epiplemidae

Crenulate moths

 

 

Geometridae

Geometer moths

Rhopalocera

Hesperioidea

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Incertae-sedis

       

Megathymini

       

Thymelicini

       

Calpodini

       

Anthoptini

       

Moncini

       

Hesperiini

     

Trapezitinae

no tribes assigned

     

Heteropterinae

Heteropterini

 

 

 

 

Pyrrhopyginae

Oxynetrini

 

 

 

 

Pyrrhopygini

 

 

 

 

Passovini

 

 

 

 

Zoniini

 

 

 

Pyrginae

Eudamini

 

 

 

 

Pyrgini

 

 

 

Coeliadinae

no tribes assigned

 

Papilionoidea

Papilionidae

Parnassiinae

Parnassiini

 

 

 

Papilioninae

Leptocircini

 

 

 

 

Troidini

 

 

 

 

Papilionini

 

 

 

Baroniinae

no tribes assigned

 

 

Pieridae

Dismorphiinae

no tribes assigned

 

 

 

Coliadinae

no tribes assigned

 

 

 

Pierinae

Anthocharidini

 

 

 

 

Pierini

 

 

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Eumaeini

 

 

 

 

Theclini

 

 

 

Lycaeninae

Lycaenini

 

 

 

Polyommatinae

Polyommatini

 

 

 

Poritiinae

Poritini

 

 

 

Miletinae

Miletini

 

 

 

Curetinae

Curetini

 

 

 

Lipteninae

Liptenini

 

 

 

Liphyrinae

no tribes assigned

 

 

Riodinidae

Euselasiinae

Euselasiini

 

 

 

 

Stygini

 

 

 

 

Corrachiini

 

 

 

Riodininae

Incertae-sedis

 

 

 

 

Mesosemiini

 

 

 

 

Eurybiini

 

 

 

  

Riodinini

 

 

 

 

Symmachiini

 

 

 

 

Helicopini

 

 

 

 

Nymphidiini

 

  

 

 

Stalachtini

 

 

Nymphalidae

Libytheinae

Libytheini

 

 

 

Danainae

Danaini

 

 

 

 

Ithomiini

 

 

 

 

Tellervini

 

 

 

 Morphinae

Morphini

 

 

 

 

Brassolini

 

 

 

 

Amathusiini

 

 

 

Satyrinae

Satyrini

 

 

 

 

Haeterini

 

 

 

Charaxinae

Anaeini

 

 

 

 

Preponini

 

 

 

Biblidinae

Cyrestini

 

 

 

 

Biblidini

 

 

 

Apaturinae

Apaturini

 

 

 

Nymphalinae

Incertae-sedis

 

 

 

 

Coeini

 

 

 

 

Nymphalini

 

 

 

 

Kallimini

 

 

 

 

Junoniini

 

 

 

 

Victorinini

 

 

 

 

Pseudergolini

 

 

 

 

Melitaeini

 

 

 

Limenitidinae

Limenitidini

 

 

 

Acraeinae

Acraeini

 

 

 

Heliconiinae

Argynnini

 

 

 

 

Heliconiini

 

 

Hedylidae

[ Butterfly-moths ] - Incertae-sedis

 

Drepanoidea

Axiidae

Gold moths

 

 

Thyatiridae

False Owlet moths

 

 

Cyclidiidae

Giant Hook-tip moths

 

 

Drepanidae

Hook-tip moths

 

Bombycoidea

Carthaeidae

Australian Silkworm moths

 

  

Eupterotidae

Giant Lappet moths

 

  

Apatelodidae

American Silkworm moths

 

 

Bombycidae

Silkworm moths

 

 

Mimallonidae

Sackbearer moths

 

 

Anthelidae

Australian Lappet moths

 

 

Lasiocampidae

Lappet moths

 

 

Endromidae

Glory moths

 

 

Lemoniidae

Autumn Silkworm moths

 

 

Brahmaeidae

Owl moths

 

 

Oxytenidae

American Tropical Silkworm moths

 

 

Cercophanidae

Andean Moon moths

 

 

Saturniidae

Emperor silkmoths

 

Sphingoidea

Sphingidae

Hawk moths

 

Noctuoidea

Notodontidae

Prominents, Dioptines

 

 

Nolidae

Tuft moths

  

  

Euteliidae

Eutelid moths

  

 

Noctuidae

Owlet moths

  

 

Erebidae

Arctiinae: Tigers, Wasp mimics

     

Lymantriinae: Tussock moths

 

 

 

Rivulinae, Anobinae, Scoliopteryginae, Hypeninae, Pangraptinae, Aganainae

 *Recent taxonomic revision has resulted in the former families Arctiidae and Lymantriidae being

   reclassified as subfamilies of the Erebidae, as shown in the above table.

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