The name Danainae is here applied to the clade inclusive of the pantropical milkweed butterflies ("Danaidae" of authors), the neotropical clearwing butterflies ("Ithomiidae" of authors), and the monogeneric Australasian Tellervo, which has commonly been accorded subfamilial rank. Larvae of all three possess thoracic tubercles and are associated with apocynaceous larval hostplants, at least among basal members of each group. All are aposematic as adults and many serve as models or co-mimics in mimicry complexes.
Evolution and Systematics
Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships
These groups have traditionally been united by similarities of hostplant use–basal members of each group are associated with Asclepiadaceae and/or Apocynaceae (Ackery 1988). Molecular evidence supporting their close relationship has been found by Brower (2000), and morphological synapomorphies by Freitas and Brown (2004).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:250
Specimens with Barcodes:222
Species With Barcodes:28
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:3000
Specimens with Barcodes:2609
Species With Barcodes:399
Milkweed butterflies are a subfamily, Danainae, in the family Nymphalidae, or brush-footed butterflies. They lay their eggs on various milkweeds on which their larvae (caterpillars) feed. Historically, this group had been considered a separate family, Danaidae.
Some 300 species of Danainae exist worldwide. Most of the Danaini are found in tropical Asia and Africa, while the Ithomiini are diverse in the Neotropics. Tellervini are restricted to Australia and the Oriental region. Four species are found in North America: the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), the Queen (Danaus gilippus), the tropical milkweed butterfly (Lycorea cleobaea), and the soldier butterfly (or "tropic queen", Danaus eresimus). The best known milkweed butterfly is the Monarch butterfly.
Milkweed butterflies are now classified as the subfamily Danainae within the family Nymphalidae. However, the previous family name Danaidae is still occasionally used. The fossil milkweed butterfly Archaeolycorea is known from the Oligocene or Miocene Tremembé Formation of Brazil. It provides evidence that the present milkweed butterflies originated more than 20-30 million years ago.
- Ackery, P. R.; Vaine-Wright, R. I. (1984). Milkweed butterflies, their cladistics and biology: being an account of the natural history of the Danainae, subfamily of the Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae. British Museum (Natural History), London. p. 17. ISBN 0-565-00893-5.
- Clarke, A.R.; Zalucki, M.P. (2001). "Taeniogonalos raymenti Carmean & Kimsey (Hymenoptera: Trigonalidae) reared as a hyperparasite of Sturmia convergens (Weidemann) (Diptera: Tachinidae), a primary parasite of Danaus plexippus (L.) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)". Pan-Pacific Entomologist 77 (?): 68–70.
- "Monarch Butterfly". National Wildlife Federation. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
- Ackery, P. R. & Vane-Wright, R. I. 1984. Milkweed butterflies, their cladistics and biology, being an account of the natural history of the Danainae, a subfamily of the Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae. ix+425 pp. London.
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