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Title: Hedylidae  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Comparison of butterflies and moths, Butterfly, Lepidoptera, Evolution of butterflies, Macrosoma heliconiaria
Collection: Hedylidae, Hedylidae of South America, Insect Families, Moth Families
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Macrosoma bahiata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Division: Ditrysia
(unranked): Rhopalocera
Superfamily: Hedyloidea
Scoble, 1986
Family: Hedylidae
Guenée, 1857, nec. Bergh, 1895
Genus: Macrosoma
Hübner, 1818
Type species
Macrosoma tipulata Hübner, 1818
Genera and synonymy

Macrosoma Hübner, 1818

  • =Epirrita Hübner, 1808 [unavailable name]
  • =Hedyle Guenée, 1857, type species Hedyle heliconiaria Guenée, 1857
  • =Phellinodes Guenée, 1857, type species Phellinodes satellitiata Guenée, 1857
  • =Venodes Guenée, 1857, type species Phellinodes satellitiata Guenée, 1857
  • =Macrophila Walker, 1862, type species Macrosoma tipulata Hübner, 1818
  • =Hyphedyle Warren, 1894, type species Hedyle rubedinaria Walker, 1862
  • =Lasiopates Warren, 1905, type species Lasiopates hyacinthina Warren, 1905

  for Species, see List of species

35 currently recognised species

Hedylidae, the "American moth-butterflies", is a family of insects in the lepidopteran order, representing the superfamily Hedyloidea. They have traditionally been viewed as an extant sister group of the butterfly superfamilies Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea. In 1986, Scoble combined all species into a single genus Macrosoma, comprising 35 currently recognized and entirely Neotropical species, as a novel concept of butterflies.[1]


  • Taxonomy and systematics 1
    • Nomenclatural notes 1.1
  • Morphology and identification 2
    • Butterfly-like characteristics of Hedylidae 2.1
  • Distribution 3
  • Behaviour 4
  • List of species 5
  • Biology and hostplants 6
  • DNA sequences 7
  • Cited literature 8
  • Sources 9
  • External links 10

Taxonomy and systematics

Hedylidae were previously treated as a tribe of Geometridae: Oenochrominae, the "Hedylicae"[1][2] Prout[3] considered they might even merit treatment as their own family. Scoble first considered them to be a hitherto unrecognised group of butterflies and also suggested Hedylidae might possibly constitute the sister group of the "true" butterflies (Papilionoidea), rather than of (Hesperioidea + Papilionoidea). Weintraub and Miller[4] argued against this placement (but see[5]). In 1995, Weller and Pashley[6] found that molecular data did indeed place Hedylidae with the butterflies and a more comprehensive study in 2005[7] based on 57 exemplar taxa, three genes and 99 morphological characters, recovered the genus Macrosoma as sister to the ("true butterflies" + "skippers"). However, the most recent phylogenetic analyses suggest that both skippers and hedylids are true butterflies belonging within the clade Papilionoidea, as without these two groups the traditionally circumscribed Papilionoidea is paraphyletic.[8][9]

Since there are no obvious gaps between supposed species groups, according to basic morphological structure, Scoble (1986) synonymised the five pre-existing genera of Hedylidae (33 of which had been described in Phellinodes) into just one genus. However, a phylogenetic analysis of all Macrosoma species is still needed.

Nomenclatural notes

In zoological nomenclature, numerous junior homonyms of Macrosoma (Hübner, 1818) exist,[10] (Macrosoma Leach 1819 (a reptile), Macrosoma de Haan 1826 (Odonata), Macrosoma Robineau-Desvoidy 1830 (Macrosoma multisulcata Berlese 1913 and M. floralis, Diptera: Muscidae), Macrosoma Brandt 1835 (Coelenterata), Macrosoma Hope 1837 (Coleoptera), Macrosoma Lioy 1864 or 1865 (Diptera: Sarcophagidae), Macrosoma Hammer 1979[11] (M.rugosa; Acarina: Oribatidae). To add to this potential confusion in lists of names, there exist two junior homonyms of Hedyle Guenée, 1857: Hedyle Bergh, 1895 (sea slugs in the order Opisthobranchia: superfamily "Acochlidioidea", family Hedylopsidae Odhner, 1952[12] that are currently placed in the genus Hedylopsis Thiele, 1931),[13] and Hedyle Malmgren 1865 (a polychaete worm).[14] The sea slug family name "Hedylidae Bergh, 1895" (type species Hedyle weberi Bergh, 1895) is thus also invalid.

Morphology and identification

The eggs of hedylid moths have an upright configuration and are variable in shape: in Macrosoma inermis they are particularly narrow and spindle-shaped[15] resembling those of some Behaviour). Unlike other butterflies, however, (except in the unique case of the remarkable Australian skipper butterfly Euschemon rafflesia whose males possess these structures), the single-spined frenulum, and retinaculum is not lost or reduced in males, except in three Macrosoma species where there is no functional wing coupling system; the retinaculum is always lost in females and the frenulum may be vestigial.[1] The family have been fully catalogued[15] and illustrated in an identification guide.[18]

Butterfly-like characteristics of Hedylidae

  1. "Mesoscutum" with "secondary line of weakness" near median "notal" wing process,[19] as in some representatives of Papilionidea and Hesperioidea (potentially unique butterfly character;[20]
  2. Mesothoracic aorta with horizontal chamber, as in other butterflies (not Papilionidae), but as also in Cossidae;[17][20]
  3. Metathoracic "furca" resembling a blunt arrowhead;[1] this a variable but potentially unique character in butterflies;[20]
  4. Second median plate of forewing base lying partly under the base of vein "1A+2A", unlike the configuration in moths;[1]
  5. "Postspiracular bar" on first abdominal segment;[1]
  6. Female genitalic "anterior apophyses" reduced;[1]
  7. Male genitalia relatively "deep" dorso-ventrally;[1]
  8. Abdomen curved (especially in males), as in papilionoids;[1]
  9. Abdominal first tergal segment is strongly "pouched" (Scoble 1986; as also in Thyatirinae moths;[20]
  10. "Precoxal" sulcus joining "marginopleural" sulcus;[1]
  11. Male Foreleg pretarsus lost, thus fused into two elements[21] as in nymphalid butterflies, with the mid and hindlegs used for perching, but apparently redeveloped in hesperiids;[1]
  12. Egg upright, spindle-shaped and ribbed[22] as in some Pieridae (e.g. the Orange tip butterfly), some other butterflies, and as in some moth groups also;[20]
  13. Larva with "anal comb",[23] as in some Hesperioidea (not however Megathyminae) and Pieridae, but not in other Papilionoidea except one species (and also independently in Tortricidae), that is used for propulsion of frass away from the caterpillar;[20]
  14. Caterpillar with horn-like processes and a "bifid" tail as in many Nymphalidae;[22][24]
  15. Caterpillar with "secondary setae", as in Pieridae;[22]
  16. Ventral larval proleg "crochet" hooks not forming a complete circle, unlike configuration in hesperiids and papilionoids;[1]
  17. Pupa affixed to the substrate via a silken girdle around the 1st abdominal segment,[25][26] like in Pieridae (as also in some Geometridae, especially the subfamily Sterrhinae (in which the girdle is around the abdomen), but lost in many Papilionoidea);[1]
  18. Pupal cocoon lost, as in papilionoids, and a few other groups of Lepidoptera;[1]
  19. "Temporal cleavage line" lost in the pupa (as in papilionoids).[1]


Hedylidae range in North America south from central Mexico and in South America through the Amazon from southern Peru (where there are a full 26 species,[27] up to 12 at a single site:[28] to central Bolivia and southwestern Brazil[18]). In the Caribbean, they also occur in Cuba, Jamaica, and Trinidad.[18][28]


Hedylids are Papilionoidea[33] that would help them evade bats at night. They have been shown to exhibit typical moth evasive behaviour towards bats such as erratic spiralling movements and dives.[34] The resting posture is often at a curious angle,[35] with the thorax tilted and the posterior edge of the hindwings nearly touching the substrate (Scoble, 1986). The larvae which lack the prominent horns in the first instar tend to rest on the midrib of the leaf and often skeletonise leaves or at either side produce an untidy patchwork of holes.[36] The elegant pupa is attached by a cremaster and silken girdle[37] and sometimes resembles a bird dropping.[38]

List of species

This list of species is largely based on phenetic characters.[15][18]

Biology and hostplants

The life history of Macrosoma heliconiaria was originally described from plants of Byttneria aculeata in Mexico.[29] This was a historical breakthrough into the biology of hedylids. In this study, Kendall commented notably "I thought the larvae might represent a satyr species, but when the first larva pupated I was sure it was a pierid. The first adult emerged as a complete surprise. The secured by girdle and cremaster, not unlike a pierid". Macrosoma cascaria was later also reared on this plant in Panama.[22] More life histories are now known. From these data, known hostplants span a wide range of (according to the APG II system) rosid dicotyledonous plants, including the rosid order Myrtales family Melastomataceae (genera Miconia, Conostegia, and Ossaea), the eurosid I order Malpighiales, families Euphorbiaceae (Croton), and Malpighiaceae (Byrsonima), the eurosid II orders Sapindales, family Rutaceae (Zanthoxylum) and more commonly[39] Malvales, family Malvaceae, tribes: Bombacoideae (Ochroma), Malvoideae (Hampea and also Hibiscus,[18] Byttnerioideae (Byttneria aculeata, Theobroma) and Grewioideae (Luehea). The "green lizard caterpillar" Macrosoma tipulata[40] attacks an economically important local fruit tree "Cupuaçu" (Theobroma grandiflorum) in Brazil and can defoliate saplings; the biology of this species has been studied and illustrated in some detail.[16] The larva of this species lives about 15 days in 5 instars, the pupal stage lasts about 7 days and the adult lives about 10 days. M. tipulata and many other species can be found as adults through most of the year.[18]

DNA sequences

A few species have been sequenced for the mitochondrial genes "cytochrome oxidase I", and "ND1" and nuclear genes "Wingless" and "Ef-1?",[41] including Macrosoma semiermis. Some species are currently being barcoded.[42]

Cited literature

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Scoble MJ (1986). "The structure and affinities of the Hedyloidea: a new concept of the butterflies". Bull. Brit. Mus. (nat. Hist.) (Ent.) 53: 251–286. 
  2. ^ Prout LB (1910). "Lepidoptera Heterocera, Fam. Geometridae, Subfam. Oenochrominae". Genera Insectorium 104: 1–119. 
  3. ^ Prout LB (1931). "The American Geometridae". The Macrolepidoptera of the World 8: 1–144. 
  4. ^ Weintraub JD, Miller JS (1987). "The structure and affinities of the Hedyloidea: a new concept of butterflies". Cladistics 3 (3): 299–304.  
  5. ^ Scoble, Malcolm J. (1988). "Hedylidae: a response to Weintraub and Miller". Cladistics 4 (1): 93–6.  
  6. ^ Weller SJ, Pashley DP (September 1995). "In search of butterfly origins". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 4 (3): 235–46.  
  7. ^ Wahlberg N, Braby MF, Brower AV, et al. (August 2005). "Synergistic effects of combining morphological and molecular data in resolving the phylogeny of butterflies and skippers". Proceedings of the Royal Society B 272 (1572): 1577–86.  
  8. ^ Heikkilä, M., Kaila, L., Mutanen, M., Peña, C., & Wahlberg, N. (2012). Cretaceous origin and repeated tertiary diversification of the redefined butterflies. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279(1731), 1093-1099.
  9. ^ Kawahara, A. Y., & Breinholt, J. W. (2014). Phylogenomics provides strong evidence for relationships of butterflies and moths. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1788), 20140970.
  10. ^ Synonymy
  11. ^ Hammer, M. (1979). Investigations on the oribatid fauna of Java. K. Dan. Vidensk. Selsk. Biol. Skr., 22(9): 34.
  12. ^|230454|425100|425106|425093
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b c d Scoble, M.J. (1990a). A catalogue of the Hedylidae (Lepidoptera: Hedyloidea), with descriptions of two new species. Entomologica Scandinavica, 21: 113-119.
  16. ^ a b Lourido, G., Silva, N.M., Motta, C.S. 2007. Biological Parameters and Damage by Macrosoma tipulata Hübner (Lepidoptera: Hedylidae), in Cupuaçu tree [Theobroma grandiflorum (Wild ex Spreng Schum)] in Amazonas, Brazil. Neotropical Entomology, 36(1):102-106.
  17. ^ a b Scoble, M.J. (1995). The Lepidoptera: Form, Function and Diversity. The Natural History Museum and Oxford University Press, London.
  18. ^ a b c d e f Scoble, M.J. (1990b). An identification guide to the Hedylidae (Lepidoptera: Hedyloidea). Entomologica Scandinavica, 21: 121-158.
  19. ^ Minet, J. (1991). Tentative reconstruction of the ditrysian phylogeny (Lepidoptera: Glossata). Entomologica Scandinavica, 22: 69-95.
  20. ^ a b c d e f de Jong, R., Vane_Wright, R.I. and Ackery, P.R. 1996. The higher classification of butterflies (Lepidoptera): problems and prospects. Entomologica Scandinavica, 27: 65-102.
  21. ^ Ackery, P.R., de Jong, R and Vane-Wright, R.I. (1999). The Butterflies: Hedyloidea, Hesperioidea and Papilionoidae. Pp. 263-300 in Kristensen, N.P. (Ed.). Lepidoptera, Moths and Butterflies. Volume 1: Evolution, Systematics, and Biogeography. Volume IV/Part 35: 491 pp. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York.
  22. ^ a b c d Scoble, M.J., Aiello, A. (1990). Moth-like butterflies (Hedylidae: Lepidoptera): a summary, with comments on the egg. Journal of Natural History, 24(1): 159-164.
  23. ^ Scoble, M.J., 1992. Guía de las Mariposas Hedílidas de Costa Rica (Lepidoptera: Hedylidae). In: Guía de Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad, 1: v, 30 pp, + 61 figs.
  24. ^ Image of bifid tail
  25. ^ Image of 1st abdominal segment
  26. ^ Image of 1st abdominal segment
  27. ^ Lamas, G. and Grados, J. (1998). Sinopsis de los Hedylidae (Lepidoptera) del Perú. Revista Peruviana Entomologia, 40: 107-109.
  28. ^ a b Grados, J. (1998). Pp 119-120 in Alonso, A. and F. Dallmeier (eds). Biodiversity Assessment of the Lower Urubamba Region, Peru: Cashiriari-3 Well Site and the Camisea and Urubamba Rivers. SI/MAB Series #2. Smithsonian Institution/MAB Biodiversity Program, Washington, DC.
  29. ^ a b Kendall, R.O., (1976). Larval foodplants and life history notes for eight moths from Texas and Mexico. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, 30(4): 264-271.
  30. ^ Beccaloni, G.W. (1997). Ecology, natural history and behaviour of ithomiine butterflies and their mimics in Ecuador (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Ithomiinae). Tropical Lepidoptera, 8(2): 103-124.
  31. ^ MacrosomaA white species of
  32. ^ Organ of hearing
  33. ^ Rydell, J., Kaerma, S., Hedelin, H. and Skals, N. (2004). Evasive response to ultrasound by the crepuscular butterfly Manataria maculata. Naturwissenschaften, 90(2): 80-83.
  34. ^ Yack, J.E. and Fullard, J.H. (1999). Ultrasonic hearing in nocturnal butterflies. Nature, 403: 265-266.
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ Janz, N. and Nylin, S. (1998). Butterflies and Plants: A Phylogenetic Study. Evolution, 52(2): 486-502.
  40. ^ Macrosoma tipulataImage of
  41. ^ Nucleotide sequences
  42. ^ DNA Barcodes for Macrosoma


  • Scoble, M.J. (1986). The structure and affinities of the Hedyloidea: a new concept of the butterflies. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Entomology Series, 53: 251-286.

External links

  • Caterpillars, pupae, butterflies & moths of the ACG [Accessed March 2007]
  • Hearing [Accessed March 2007]
  • Ears [Accessed March 2007]
  • Kendall 1976 pdf [Accessed March 2007]
  • Lepindex [Accessed March 2007]
  • Moths of Belize [Accessed March 2007]
  • Unknown white hedylid from Nicaragua [Accessed March 2007]
  • Hedylidae of Guyana [Accessed March 2007]
  • Moths of Jamaica [Accessed March 2007]
  • Barcoding progress and images [Accessed March 2007]
  • Leptree sequencing progress [Accessed March 2007]
  • Larva of unidentified species 79-SRNP-362c [Accessed March 2007]
  • Larva of unidentified species 03-SRNP-21689 [Accessed March 2007]
  • Macrosoma semiermisNicaraguan hostplants of [Accessed March 2007]
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