Taxonomic notes on Papilio ocypete Fabricius, 1776 and Papilio helle Cramer, 1779 with description of two new similar species from South America (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae)

Mohamed Benmesbah, Thamara Zacca, Mirna M. Casagrande, Olaf H.H. Mielke, Gerardo Lamas, Keith Richard Willmott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The discovery of a new species of satyrine butterfly, Magneuptychia louisammour Benmesbah & Zacca, sp. n., that is phenotypically similar to a sympatric species widely known as Magneuptychia ocypete (Fabricius, 1776), led to a review of the taxonomic status of M. ocypete. A neotype for Papilio ocypete Fabricius, 1776 is designated and its redescription is provided. Neonympha sabina C. Felder & R. Felder, 1867 and Euptychia helle var. olivacea Aurivillius, 1929 are treated as junior subjective synonyms of P. ocypete and a lectotype is designated for each name. A neotype for the preoccupied name Papilio helle Cramer, 1779, and its replacement name Magneuptychia fugitiva Lamas, [1997], is also designated, and a redescription of this name and discussion of its taxonomic status are provided. We describe an additional phenotypically similar species, Magneuptychia kamel Benmesbah & Zacca, sp. n. from the western Amazon and raise the name Magneuptychia opima sheba Brévignon & Benmesbah, 2012 to species rank (stat. rev.) on the basis of morphological and DNA sequence evidence. We also discuss the difficulties regarding taxonomic and geographical delimitation in these complex species groups. Observations on Euptychiina behaviour are also provided. Finally, based on external characters and male genitalia, a proposed preliminary arrangement of two species groups is proposed, including other species of Magneuptychia Forster, 1964 and Cissia Doubleday, 1848.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-145
Number of pages31
Issue number1
StatePublished - 29 May 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful to Blanca Huertas for providing access to the specimens deposited in NHMUK. To Eulalia G. Miracle and Luc Willemse for authorisation to publish the photo of the P. helle suspected syntypes. To Rodolphe Rougerie and Jérôme Barbut for providing access to the specimens deposited in MNHN. To Andrew Neild and Mauro Costa for kindly sharing information and data from their collection on this species group from Venezuela. To Ángel L. Viloria for the very interesting discussions, the accurate remarks provided and the his researches in IVIC and MIZA collections. To Bernard Hermier for his pertinent corrections and advice on the manuscript. To Stéphane Attal for his advice throughout this work. To Christian Brévignon for his comments and the information shared with us. To Christian Brévignon, Jean-Yves Gallard, Christophe Faynel and Bernard Hermier for sharing some of their observation about Riodinidae, Lycaenidae and Hesperiidae behaviour. MB thanks the team of the Réserve Trésor, Céline Genton (director), Mohamed Gheziel (student) and Benoît Villette (field agent), in French Guiana for their assistance in the butterfly inventory project of the reserve. MB thanks Carlos Aguilar Julio (Paraguayan entomologist) and John A. Kochalka (Museo Nacional de Historia Natural del Paraguay, San Lorenzo, Paraguay) for their kind hospitality and help during field research in Paraguay. MB and KW thanks Sofía Nogales (Ecuadorian Biology student) and Santiago Villamarín-Cortez (Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales, Quito, Ecuador) and the Ecuadorian Ministerio del Ambiente for their help during field research in Ecuador. To the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for the fellowships granted to TZ (140225/2013-7), MMC (308247/2013-2) and OHHM (304639/2014-10). TZ thanks the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) for the PDSE scholarship (99999.002879/2014-00). KW additionally acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation (Grant No. DEB-1256742) the Florida Museum of Natural History and FLMNH Museum Associates. KW additionally thanks NSF (DEB-0103746, DEB-0639861) and the National Geographic Society (Research and Exploration Grant # 5751-96) for funding to support field work in Ecuador. KW thanks Jason Hall, Jamie Radford, Julia and Jamie Robinson Willmott for their fine company in the field and for collecting Magneuptychia specimens, and André Freitas, Christian Brévignon, Marianne Espeland, Vanessa Navas, Gebreyes Kassu, Shinichi Nakahara, Lei Xiao, Sridhar Chandrasekaran, Natalie Harrison, Vanessa Ramirez, Julia Robinson Willmott and Sarah Nguyentran for assistance with obtaining sequence data published here and unpublished data included as part of the analyses. All the authors thanks Carlos Prieto, Rayner Nuñez Aguila and Shinichi Nakahara for reviewing this article and for their constructive remarks.


  • Cissia maripa
  • Cissia myncea
  • Euptychiina
  • Hilltopping
  • Magneuptychia opima
  • Magneutychia sheba
  • Neonympha sabina
  • Neotype designation
  • Papilio helle
  • Papilio ocypete
  • Satyrini
  • Taxonomy


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