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NOTE: The text corresponds to the book Kosrhunov & Gorbunov, 1995 only.

Special thank to Dr. Cris Guppy (Quesnel, Canada) who kindly corrected many spelling and other lingustic errors.

SUBORDO DIURNA LINNAEUS, 1758 (=Aparasterma Niculescu, 1970)


This group embraces several families of Lepidoptera, the imagines of which are active at the daytime. They differ from other Lepidoptera (traditionally called moths) first of all by the shape of the antennae which are club- or spindle-like swollen at the apices. Other characteristic features are the pattern of wing venation, the lack of structures fastening the fore and hind wings.

The butterflies inhabit all the continents except for Antarctic, the total number of their species being estimated as more than seventeen thousand. About a thousand of them inhabit the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, while the others are confined to the tropic and subtropic zones.

So far about 430 butterfly species have been found on the territory considered. These are mostly butterflies of a small or intermediate size (with the fore wing length of 10-50 mm). Only some swallowtails from the Far East are comparable with their tropical counterparts as having the wing expanse of more than 10 cm. The majority of species are trophically connected with herbs or grasses, a smaller number of species - with bushes and deciduous trees. The caterpillars of the only species - Seokia eximia - feed on the coniferous Korean stone pine (Pinus koraiensis). The majority of species develop in a single brood a year, although in the southern parts of the territory many of the same species are capable of producing two or even three broods. Some representatives of the genera Driopa, Euphydryas, Erebia, and Oeneis are biennial. Besides, the larvae of many tundra butterflies can hibernate twice on unfavorable climatic conditions of the season and so prolong the life cycle to two or more years. The flight period of imagines of a species usually lasts for 2-4 weeks while the life span of an individual imago is about twice as short. The average longevity’s of preimaginal stages are as follows: 7-20 days of the egg, 1-2 months of the larva, 8-16 days of the pupa. Hibernation, occurring at any stage of the life cycle, prolongs it for a few months.

Almost all of our butterflies are confined to Palearctic, about 30 species are known also from N. America, and about twice as small number of species - from the tropics of SE. Asia. As to their geographical distribution, the butterflies of the Asian Russia can be attributed to five basic groups:

The Arcto-Alpine fauna, connected with lowland tundras and highlands, is formed mostly by young species of the genera Erebia, Oeneis, Clossiana, Boloria, Colias. In the Polar lowlands one finds usually no more than ten species: Pieris napi, Colias hecla, C. palaeno, C. tyche, Clossiana frigga, C. improba, C. chariclea, Boloria alaskensis, Erebia fasciata, Vacciniina optilete. Synchloe callidice, Clossiana polaris, Agriades glandon are added in Polar mountain regions, and many more other species - in more southern mountains. Among highlands of the Polar and Subpolar zones the richest is the fauna of NE. Asia where an ancient center of formation of tundra forms is reconstructed. The faunas of the northern Srednesibirskoe [Middle Siberian] Plateau and the northern Ural are also derivatives of this center, but they are deprived of a number of species of the tundra-steppe, such as Sachaja ammosovi, Colias nastes, Clossiana alberta, Oeneis alpina, Erebia callias, E. pawlowskyi, and others. The species complexes of the highlands of South Siberia are very peculiar, where many of the characteristic Subarctic species are replaced by authentic young endemics: Pyrgus sibirica, Clossiana matveevi, Boloria frigidalis, Oeneis ammon, O. tunga, O. altaica, Erebia theano, E. brimo, E. elwesi, E. kefersteini, E. kindermani. The life history of the representatives of the Arcto-Alpine fauna is still poorly studied, but it is already known that the majority of species are biennial, hibernating twice at the larval stage, and are trophically connected with Ericaceae, Vacciniaceae, and Empetraceae fruticles, willows (Salix), sedges (Carex), rarely other grasses.

The Boreal fauna is connected with the forest zone in lowlands and the forest belts in the mountains of temperate latitudes, that is to the largest part of the Asian Russia, the species diversity being about twice as large in the southern forest zone than in the northern. Although the majority of the constituent species range widely within the temperate Eurasia, the species content changes substantially as we proceed to the East of Ural. More than 20 West-Palearctic species disappear one by one, such as Thymelicus flavus, Iphiclides podalirius, Driopa mnemosyne, Leptidea sinapis, Colias myrmidne, Vanessa atalanta, Nymphalis polychloros, Melitaea aurelia, Pararge aegeria, Lasiommata maera, Coenonympha arcania, Maniolia jurtina, Erebia euryale, Hipparchia semele, Melanargia galathea, Zeozephyrus quercus, Fixenia acaceae, F. ilicis, Glaucopsyche alexis, Maculinea nausitous, Polyommatus coridon. On the other hand, about the same number of eastern species are added in the upper Ob' basin and eastwards, namely, Driopa stubbendorffi, Leptidea amurensis, Colias aurora, Limenitis helmanni, S. sydyi, Argynnis sagana, Clossiana oscarus, C. anfarensis, Melitaea menetriesi, M. plotina, Lopinga deidamia, Erebia neiene, Fixenia prunoides, Ahlbergia frivaldskyi, Glaucopsyche lycormas. Almost all the species are represented by different subspecies in western and eastern parts of their ranges, peculiar subspecies being described from Kamchatka, the Sakhalin, the Kurile Islands.

The East-Asiatic Nemoral fauna, pertained to Priamuryethe Amur basin, Primorye, East China, Japan, the southern Sakhalin, and the south Kuriles, is the most ancient and peculiar one in Palearctic. As many as 36 genera found in the Asian Russia are restricted to this fauna, they mostly belong to such archaic subfamilies as Zerynthiinae, Apaturinae, Limenitinae, Elymniinae, Theclinae. It is this area where occur our largest representatives of six butterfly families. The larvae of many species of this group are connected with arboreal plants.

The Central Asiatic fauna is found in intermontane hollows and uplands of the south-east of Russian Altai, Tuva, south Zabaikalye, and also Mongolia and western and northern China. These are montane-steppen species, mostly from the family Satyridae, such as Boeberia parmenio, Triphysa albovenosa, and any representatives of the genus Oeneis.

The species of the Mediterranean fauna inhabit S. Europe, N. Africa, Anterior Asia, and the steppes of Kazakhstan and penetrates to the southern piedmonts of Ural, the steppen regions of the West Siberian Lowland eastwards to Altai. It includes both steppen and meadow-forest species. Its taxonomic content is quite diverse, with the following specific genera: Carcharodus, Zerinthia, Zegris, Microzegris, Arethusana, Proterebia, Thersamonia, and many others that do not reach the Asian Russia.

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