The Callidulidae as defined here (Minet 1991, 1999), the sole member of Calliduloidea, comprise three subfamilies which formerly had been divided into two families. Adult callidulids are generally brightly colored, and all three subfamilies contain at least some day-flying species. The family occurs only in the Oriental region and Madagascar, and is sometimes referred to as the Old World Butterfly Moths. The subfamilies are as follows.
Callidulinae include about 50 species in eight genera, restricted to the Oriental region with a few species reaching palearctic Asia. As can be seen in these images from jpmoths.org, the adult moths, which are normally diurnal, fold their wings above the body at rest like butterflies. The antennae are filiform (thread-like), never pectinate(comb-like) like those of nocturnal moths, but differ from those of butterflies in being at most slightly club-like. All the known larvae of callidulines feed on ferns, from shelters created by rolling or tying the foliage. This behavior is nicely pictured in Moths of Borneo.
The Pterothysaninae consist of the genera Helicomitra, a single species restricted to Madagascar and flying at night, and Pterothysanus, about 10 species found in the Oriental region and flying by day or both day and night. The moths are said to be geometrid-like (Scoble 1982). There is an excellent image of a live Pterothysanus adult at Thaibugs. Very little is known about the biology of this subfamily, and the larvae have not been discovered.
The Griveaudiinae consist of a single species endemic to Madagascar. It flies at least sometimes during the day (Minet 1999).
Evolution and Systematics
In previous classifications (e.g. Scoble 1982), Callidulinae and Griveaudiinae were grouped as one family and Pterothysaninae were treated as a separate family. Minet (1991, 1999) advanced seven morphological synapomorphies in arguing for uniting all three in a single family. A test of this hypothesis by molecular data is in progress (see www.Leptree.net).
The phylogenetic position of Callidulidae has been difficult to discern (review in Moths of Borneo). Minet (1991, 1999) placed them in the Macrolepidoptera, specifically within a large putative clade-the "Geometromorpha" of Fänger (1999)- consisting of Cimelioidea, Calliduloidea, Geometroidea, Drepanoidea and the butterflies sensu lato (Hedyloidea + Hesperioidea + Papilionoidea). Strong evidence against the Geometromorpha hypothesis, however, has emerged from recent molecular studies (Regier, Zwick et al. 2009; Cho, Zwick et al., submitted). In the molecular trees, the "Geometromorpha" are never monophyletic; indeed, the butterflies never group with other Macrolepidoptera. The placement of the single representative of Callidulidae/Callidulinae is unstable and never strongly supported. A consistent observation, however, is that Callidulidae are never allied with other Macrolepidoptera. Instead, they group with such taxa as Pterophoridae, Alucitidae, Gelechioidea, Thyrididae, and in one case, Papilionidae. While we cannot say with any assurance at present what the nearest relatives of callidulids are, the molecular data clearly disfavor membership of this family in Macrolepidoptera.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimen Records: 19
Specimens with Sequences: 17
Specimens with Barcodes: 15
Species With Barcodes: 6
Public Records: 6
Public Species: 2
Public BINs: 2
Callidulidae, the only known family of the superfamily Calliduloidea, is the family of Old World butterfly-moths, containing eight genera. They have a peculiar distribution, restricted to the Old World tropics of South East Asia to Australasia and Madagascar. The three subfamilies exhibit both day- and night-flying behaviour.
The mainly day-flying Callidulinae can be distinguished by their resting posture, which is the most butterfly-like, with the wings held closely over the back. Resembling the butterfly family Lycaenidae, these moths can be told apart by their antennae which taper to a point or may be very subtly clubbed. The more often night-flying Pterothysaninae and Griveaudiinae have a different adult resting posture (the latter roof-like in repose) and these were not placed within the Callidulidae until recently.
Biology of most subfamilies and species is poorly known. Eggs are very flat in Griveaudiinae and Callidulinae, and caterpillars of Callidulinae are green with a shiny black head and have only been reported from ferns forming a leaf roll in which they live, eat and finally pupate, while the pupa of Helicomitra appears to be subterranean.
The closest relatives of Callidulidae are not known, but they are currently placed in a group that includes the three butterfly superfamilies, the "hook-tip moths" Drepanoidea and the "geometer moths" Geometroidea and also possibly Axioidea which share some structural characteristics.
- Minet, J. (1986). Ébauche d'une classification moderne de l'ordre des Lépidoptères. Alexanor 14(7): 291–313.
- Gaden S. Robinson, Phillip R. Ackery, Ian J. Kitching, George W. Beccaloni & Luis M. Hernández. HOSTS database.  (Accessed May 2007)
- Minet, J. (1987). Description d'une chrysalide de Pterothysaninae (Lep. Callidulidae). Nouvelle Revue d'Entomologie (N.S.) 4(3): 312.
- Minet, J. (1999 ). The Axioidea and Calliduloidea. Ch. 16, pp. 257–261 in Kristensen, N.P. (Ed.). Lepidoptera, Moths and Butterflies. Volume 1: Evolution, Systematics, and Biogeography. Handbuch der Zoologie. Eine Naturgeschichte der Stämme des Tierreiches / Handbook of Zoology. A Natural History of the phyla of the Animal Kingdom. Band / Volume IV Arthropoda: Insecta Teilband / Part 35: 491 pp. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York.
- Minet, J. (1990 ). Nouvelles frontières, géographiques et taxonomiques, pour la famille des Callidulidae (Lepidoptera, Calliduloidea). Nouvelle Revue d'Entomologie (N.S.) 6(4): 351–368.
- Maddison, David R. 2003. Callidulidae.  in The Tree of Life Web Project,  Accessed October 2006
- O'Toole, Christopher (Ed.) (2002) Firefly Encyclopedia of Insects and Spiders. ISBN 1-55297-612-2
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