The superfamily Papilionoidea (from the genus Papilio, meaning "butterfly") contains all the butterflies except for the skippers, which are classified in superfamily Hesperioidea, and the moth-like Hedyloidea.

A proposed phylogenetic position of the Papilionoidea is as follows:


Papilionoidea (true butterflies)

Hesperiidae (skippers)

Hedylidae (American butterfly moths)

Some authors treat this group as a series Papilioniformes within a single superfamily that also includes the skippers. However not all authors agree that all the butterflies constitute a single clade. The skippers are significantly different from the other butterflies. The members of the Papilionoidea may be distinguished by the following combination of characters:

  • the body is smaller and less moth-like.
  • the wings are larger.
  • the antennae are straight and clubbed (rather than hooked as in the skippers).
  • the caterpillars do not spin cocoons to pupate in.
  • the pupae are angular rather than rounded.

Read more about Papilionoidea:  Families of Papilionoidea