Home

 

 
World Butterfly Census

The following table lists the number of known species in every butterfly family and subfamily found in each of the world's 5 zoogeographical regions as indicated above.

 

World

Holarctic region

Neotropical region

Afrotropical region

Oriental region

Australian region

HESPERIIDAE

4127

497

2365

525

570

174

Hesperiinae

2117

275

1039

321

395

87

Heteropterinae

180

9

138

33

0

0

Pyrginae

1474

200

992

152

130

14

Pyrrhopyginae

164

0

164

0

0

0

Trapezitinae

61

0

0

0

0

61

Megathyminae

55

12

33

0

0

0

Coeliadinae

76

0

0

19

45

12

PAPILIONIDAE

622

97

141

98

170

70

Papilioninae

547

80

140

98

170

70

Parnassiinae

74

74

0

0

0

0

Baroniinae

1

0

1

0

0

0

PIERIDAE

1036

158

339

188

160

191

Pseudopontinae

1

0

0

1

0

0

Coliadinae

226

75

69

13

54

15

Pierinae

753

78

219

174

106

176

Dismorphiinae

56

5

51

0

0

0

LYCAENIDAE

4507

575

1182

1680

586

484

Theclinae

2295

244

1061

519

381

90

Polyommatinae

1082

267

7

454

96

258

Lycaeninae

291

60

114

4

0

113

Poritiinae

30

0

0

0

30

0

Miletinae

159

2

0

73

64

20

Curetinae

17

2

0

0

14

1

Lipteninae

599

0

0

599

0

0

Liphyrinae

34

0

0

31

1

2

RIODINIDAE

1428

33

1324

15

34

23

Euselasiinae

172

0

172

0

0

0

Riodininae

1256

33

1152

15

34

23

NYMPHALIDAE

5978

864

2433

1458

891

332

Libytheinae

17

3

4

3

4

3

Nymphalinae

590

172

195

71

93

59

Heliconiinae

479

74

147

235

12

11

Argynnini

120

73

18

11

10

8

Heliconiini

72

0

72

0

0

0

Acraeini

287

1

57

224

2

3

Limenitidinae

809

94

89

587

220

24

Biblidinae

331

2

266

31

25

7

Apaturinae

87

43

19

3

21

1

Charaxinae

392

8

110

179

80

15

Satyrinae

2279

460

1099

326

275

119

Morphinae

226

0

136

0

72

18

Morphini

42

0

42

0

0

0

Brassolini

94

0

94

0

0

0

Amathusiini

90

0

0

0

72

18

Danainae

563

8

368

23

89

75

Danaini

199

8

13

23

89

66

Ithomiini

355

0

355

0

0

0

Tellervini

9

0

0

0

0

9

TOTAL

17698

2224

7784

3964

2411

1274

 
The totals are distorted because taxonomists often disagree about whether any particular taxon is a full species or just a subspecies or form.  Estimates of the total number of known butterfly species therefore vary between 17,000-19,000. The true total will never be known because many will have become extinct even before they are discovered. Taxonomists however estimate that at least 1100 more species await discovery in the neotropical region alone! It is forecast that another 50 will be discovered in the Holarctic, 150 in the Oriental region, another 50 in Papua New Guinea and West Irian and at least 250 more species in Africa.
If you include moths the total increases tenfold to 174,240 currently known species. The number of undiscovered moths is proportionately much greater than with butterflies however, as a very high percentage of moths are very small with sombre patterns and are extremely difficult to distinguish from each other without the aid of microscopic examination and DNA analysis. The total number of Lepidoptera species probably exceeds 300,000 worldwide.
Data collated by Hoskins from sources including Tolman 1997, Larsen 2005, Lamas 2004, d'Abrera 2001, Scott 1992, Preston-Mafham 1988, McCubbin 1971, Eliot/Corbet & Pendlebury 1992, Shields 1989, Ackery 1995, funet 2014, BoldSystems 2014, LepIndex 2014.

 

Contact  /  About me

Butterfly-watching holidays

Trip reports

UK latest sightings

Frequently asked questions

Strange but true !

Taxonomy & Evolution

Anatomy

Lifecycle

Enemies of butterflies

Survival strategies

Migration & dispersal

Habitats - UK / Palaearctic

Habitats - Tropical rainforests

Butterfly world census

Butterflies of the World :

British Isles

Europe

Amazon & Andes

North America

temperate Asia

Africa

Indian subcontinent

Malaysia & Borneo

Papua New Guinea

Australia & N.Z.

Insects of Britain & Europe

Insects of Amazonia

Moths of the Andes

Saturniidae - Silkmoths

Caterpillars of the World

Butterfly Photography

Recommended Books

Glossary

Links

Code of practice

Copyright - text & images

Copyright - text & images

X

X

X

X

 

All photographs, artwork, text & website design are the property of Adrian Hoskins ( unless otherwise stated ) and are protected by Copyright. Photographs or text on this website must not be reproduced in part or in whole or published elsewhere without prior written consent of Adrian Hoskins / learnaboutbutterflies.com

Site hosted by Just Host