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Melitaea arcesia chuana - Seitz.png
Adult male Melitaea arcesia chuana,
a member of Melitaea sensu stricto
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Subfamily: Nymphalinae
Tribe: Melitaeini
Subtribe: Melitaeina
Newman, 1870
Genus: Melitaea
Fabricius, 1807
Type species
Papilio cinxia
Some 85 species (but see text)

Athaliaeformia Verity, 1950
Cinclidia Hübner, [1819]
Didymaeformis Verity, 1950
Lucina Rafinesque, 1815 (non Bruguière, [1797][verification needed]: preoccupied)
Melilaea (lapsus)
Melinaea Sodoffsky, 1837 (non Hübner, 1816: preoccupied)
Melitea (lapsus; non Peron & Lesueur, 1810: preoccupied)
Melithea (lapsus)
Melithoea (lapsus)
Melitoea (lapsus)
Mellicta Billberg, 1820
Schoenis Hübner, [1819]

Melitaea is a genus of brush-footed butterflies (family Nymphalidae). They are here placed in the tribe Melitaeini of subfamily Nymphalinae; some authors elevate this tribe to subfamily rank.

As delimited here, Melitaea includes the genus Mellicta, making the subtribe Melitaeina monotypic (but see below). For long, it was believed that Mellicta was a junior objective synonym of Melitaea, sharing the same type species (the Glanville fritillary, M. cinxia). This was in error, however; the type species of Mellicta is actually the heath fritillary (M. athalia), making the two taxa junior subjective synonyms and thus eligible to be separated again. However, several other taxa are in fact objective synonyms (or at least have type specimens belonging to the same biological species) of Melitaea and MellictaSchoenis and the preoccupied Lucina and Melinaea for the former, Athaliaeformia for the latter.[1]


Adult Melitaea didymoides pekinensis, belonging to the large didyma group
Adult Melitaea solona evadne (minerva group)
Adult male Melitaea punica (phoebe group)

As noted above, Mellicta is considered to be a subgenus of Melitaea for the time being. The rationale is that even though the Melitaeina may not be monotypic, they do not seem to consist of just two genera (Melitaea and Mellicta) either, and recognition of Mellicta appears to leave Melitaea paraphyletic; consequently, other lineages would need elevation to distinct genus status also. As long as it is not fully known which species groups and/or subgenera warrant recognition as full genera, they are all retained in the present genus.


In the following list, species-group/subgenus affiliation and type species are annotated. In the sensu lato circumscription used here, Melitaea contains almost ninety species. Most being assignable to one of the five groups/subgenera, there are a few that cannot be clearly placed with one of these at present:[2]

Mellicta group

Adult Melitaea centralasiae of the Mellicta group

Incertae sedis


  1. ^ Pitkin & Jenkins (2004ab), FE (2009), and see references in Haaramo (2010, 2011)
  2. ^ See references in Haaramo (2010, 2011)