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Green-banded Urania, Tambopata Park, Peru.jpg
Urania leilus from South America
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Geometroidea
Family: Uraniidae
Subfamily: Uraniinae
Blanchard, 1845


Uraniinae phylogeny
after Lees and Smith 1991[1]










(1) Use Endospermum as a food plant.
(2) Use Omphalea as a food plant
   and adults are diurnal.
Urapterita is not included for lack of data.

The Uraniinae or uraniine moths are a subfamily of moths in the family Uraniidae. It contains seven genera that occur in the tropics of the world.

Three of its genera (Alcides, Chrysiridia, and Urania) are essentially diurnal, although some crepuscular activity has been recorded. They are blackish with markings in iridescent green or light blue; some species have orange, gold or pink highlights. They are as brightly marked as the most colorful butterflies; indeed, they bear an uncanny resemblance in shape and coloration to some papilionid butterflies (swallowtails and relatives). They are also usually toxic, hence the bright warning colors. Cases are known where harmless butterflies mimic these toxic moths, e.g. Papilio laglaizei and Alcides agathyrsus.

The remaining genera in the subfamily are far less colorful, overall gray-brown with a light band on each wing (Lyssa) or white with brownish markings (Cyphura, Urapteritra, and Urapteroides), and mainly nocturnal or crepuscular. Despite their relatively dull colors, Lyssa species are impressive because of their large size with a typical wingspan of 10–16 cm (3.9–6.3 in). No other species in the subfamily has a wingspan that exceeds 10 cm (3.9 in).


This list of species is adapted mostly with some rearrangements from The Global Lepidoptera Names Index[2]; it is likely to be fairly complete (as of January 2006) as including valid species for most of which distributional information is here given.

Giant uranid moth (Lyssa menoetius), Sabah, Borneo
Lyssa zampa from Laos
  • Lyssa menoetius adspersus (Regteren Altena, 1953) (Kalimantan)
  • Lyssa menoetius celebensis (Regteren Altena, 1953) (Sulawesi)
  • Lyssa zampa docile (Butler, 1877) (Andaman Islands)
  • Lyssa zampa dilutus (Röber, 1927) (Sulawesi)
Lithograph of Urania sloanus (top) and Urania brasiliensis (bottom) published in 1897; they were formerly placed in the genus Cydimon


  1. ^ Lees, David C. and Smith, Neal G. (1991) "Foodplants of the Uraniinae (Uraniinae) and their Systematic, Evolutionary and Ecological Significance. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, vol. 45. available at http://research.yale.edu/peabody/jls/pdfs/1990s/1991/1991-45(4)296-Lees.pdf
  2. ^ Beccaloni, George; et al. (eds.). "Search Results Subfamily: Uraniinae". The Global Lepidoptera Names Index. Natural History Museum, London. 

External links[edit]

  • Moths of Borneo: Subfamily Uraniinae (with pictures and description of species: Lyssa zampa, L. menoetius, Urapteroides astheniata)

Further reading[edit]