Three new subfamilies of skipper butterflies (lepidoptera, hesperiidae)

Jing Zhang, Qian Cong, Jinhui Shen, Ernst Brockmann, Nick V. Grishin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We obtained and analyzed whole genome data for more than 160 representatives of skipper butterflies (family Hesperiidae) from all known subfamilies, tribes and most distinctive genera. We found that two genera, Katreus Watson, 1893 and Ortholexis Karsch, 1895, which are sisters, are well-separated from all other major phylogenetic lineages and originate near the base of the Hesperiidae tree, prior to the origin of some subfamilies. Due to this ancient origin compared to other subfamilies, this group is described as Katreinae Grishin, subfam. n. DNA sequencing of primary type specimens reveals that Ortholexis melichroptera Karsch, 1895 is not a female of Ortholexis holocausta Mabille, 1891, but instead a female of Ortholexis dimidia Holland, 1896. This finding establishes O. dimidia as a junior subjective synonym of O. melichroptera. Furthermore, we see that Chamunda Evans, 1949 does not originate within Pyrginae Burmeister, 1878, but, unexpectedly, forms an ancient lineage of its own at the subfamily rank: Chamundinae Grishin, subfam. n. Finally, a group of two sister genera, Barca de Nicéville, 1902 and Apostictopterus Leech, [1893], originates around the time Hesperiinae Latreille, 1809 have split from their sister clade. A new subfamily Barcinae Grishin, subfam. n. sets them apart from all other Hesperiidae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-105
Number of pages15
Issue number861
StatePublished - 2019


  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Genomics
  • Higher classification
  • Phylogeny

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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