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The division of living beings into systematics is a continuous subject of research. Different systematic classifications exist side by side and one after the other. The taxon treated here has become obsolete due to new research or is not part of the group systematics presented in the German-language Wikipedia.

The rapeseed white butterfly, a butterfly

Under the name butterflies are butterflies from different families , which mainly fly during the day, combined. The butterflies in the narrower sense are only a group of families that are actually all closely related to one another.

Most butterflies have button-shaped, thickened antennae ends in common, which is why they were previously (without the thick-headed butterflies ) combined in science to form a group of Rhopalocera ("real butterflies", literally "button horns"). This group includes some very large and colorful species. Butterflies usually fly in the typical tumbling flight, their flight path is relatively difficult for birds to predict, which makes them unattractive as prey.

The following families belong to the group of butterflies in the narrower sense:

In addition to morphological work, the analysis of the relationship in biology is increasingly based on the comparison of homologous DNA sequences. As a result of these investigations, one can understand the "classical" butterflies as a monophyletic group if one includes the small family of the Hedylidae of the " night butterflies ". The following cladogram illustrates the possible relationships:


Knight Butterfly (Papilionidae)


Thick-headed butterfly (Hesperiidae)




Whitelings (Pieridae)


Noble butterfly (Nymphalidae)


Bluebirds (Lycaenidae)


Cube butterfly (Riodinidae)

However, some positions in it are not yet fully secured. This concerns the Hedylidae, which could alternatively be sister group of the Hesperiidae, and the position of the Pieridae. However, all more modern studies agree in the position of the Papilionidae as sister group of the other Papilionoidea, not, as previously assumed, of the Hesperiidae. There is therefore neither a superfamily Hesperioidea nor a separate taxon Rhopalocera.

There are also some "moth" families and species that specialize in daytime activity. Some of these also have colorful, striking wings, such as the ram . Some butterflies (of the superfamily Papilionoidea) have inconspicuous "moth" -like wing colors and markings. Daytime activity and color alone cannot be used as systematic features.


Individual evidence

  1. Jerome C. Regier, Charles Mitter, Andreas Zwick, Adam L. Bazinet, Michael P. Cummings, Akito Y. Kawahara, Jae-Cheon Sohn, Derrick J. Zwickl, Soowon Cho, Donald R. Davis, Joaquin Baixeras, John Brown , Cynthia Parr, Susan Weller, David C. Lees, Kim T. Mitter (2013): A Large-Scale, Higher-Level, Molecular Phylogenetic Study of the Insect Order Lepidoptera (Moths and Butterflies). PLoS ONE 8 (3): e58568. doi : 10.1371 / journal.pone.0058568
  2. Martijn JTN Timmermans, David C. Lees, Thomas J. Simonsen (2014): Towards a mitogenomic phylogeny of Lepidoptera. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 79: 169-178. doi : 10.1016 / j.ympev.2014.05.031
  3. Min Jee Kim, Ah Rha Wang, Jeong Sun Park, Iksoo Kim (2014): Complete mitochondrial genomes of five skippers (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae) and phylogenetic reconstruction of Lepidoptera. Gene 549 (1): 97-112. doi : 10.1016 / j.gene.2014.07.052
  4. Niklas Wahlberg, Julien Leneveu, Ullasa Kodandaramaiah, Carlos Peña, Sören Nylin, André VL Freitas, Andrew VZ Brower (2009): Nymphalid butterflies diversify following near demise at the Cretaceous / Tertiary boundary. Proceedings of the Royal Society London Series B 276: 4295-4302. doi : 10.1098 / rspb.2009.1303
  5. Maria Heikkilä, Lauri Kaila, Marko Mutanen, Carlos Peña, Niklas Wahlberg (2011): Cretaceous origin and repeated tertiary diversification of the redefined butterflies. Proceedings of the Royal Society London Series B 282: 1093-1099. doi : 10.1098 / rspb.2011.1430
  6. cf. Phillip R. Ackery, Rienk de Jong, Richard I. Vane-Wright: The Butterflies: Hedyloidea, Hesperioidea and Papilionoidea. In: Niels P. Kristensen (editor): Handbook of Zoology / Handbuch der Zoologie, Volume 4: Arthropoda, 2nd half: Insecta: Lepidoptera, Moths and Butterflies. Teilband / Part 35: Volume 1: Evolution, Systematics, and Biogeography. De Gruyter, 1998. ISBN 9783110804744 .
  7. cf. Ditrysia. Tree of Life Web Project. 1995, accessed June 29, 2007 .

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