How are butterflies classified?
Although butterflies are one of the most widely studied insect groups, there is no uniform method to classify them.
The Symposium of the Royal Entomological Society of London subdivided butterflies into two super-families-the Hesperioidea and the Papilionoidea.
The first group that is the Hesperioidea, has only one family. Skippers as they popularly known, are very good fliers. They are called so because of their ability to fly very fast. They are very similar to moths. Many skippers are dull in color, like moths. Their larvae feed on a lot of food plants. They rest as
pupa in the cocoon, where pieces of dried up leaves are mixed.
Why is the superfamily Papilionoidea unique?
The butterfly superfamily known as Papilionoidea consists of five families. They are named Papilionidae, Pieridae, Lycaenidae, Riodinidae, and Nymphalidae. In other words, all the butterflies except skippers come under this superfamily.
The Papilionidae family members are collectively known as swallowtails. Butterflies in the Pieridae family are whites, orange tips, brimstones, and
sulphurs. The majority of them are either red or brown or blue in color.
The third family, Lycaenidae, is the largest family of all with some 6000 or more species. They are mostly found in tropical areas, but they can be seen in other parts of the world too.
The fourth subfamily Nymphalidae is also very large, like the third subfamily with than 6000 species.