Catasticta chrysolopha ( Kollar, 1850 ),

Bollino, Maurizio & Costa, Mauro, 2007, An illustrated annotated check-list of the species of Catasticta (s. l.) Butler (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) of Venezuela, Zootaxa 1469, pp. 1-42: 11-12

publication ID 10.5281/zenodo.176651

publication LSID

persistent identifier

treatment provided by


scientific name

Catasticta chrysolopha ( Kollar, 1850 )


13 Catasticta chrysolopha ( Kollar, 1850)  (TL: [ Colombia, Cundinamarca], “ Venezuela ”)

(fig. 9: a-i; fig. 24)

Catasticta chrysolopha  was described by Kollar from Venezuela based on material collected by Prince Maximilian Sulkowsky in 1843 in both Colombia and Venezuela. Subsequently, Reissinger (1972) described Catasticta spectrum  (TL: Venezuela, Mérida, Rio Albarragas), which is currently considered to be a subspecies of C. chrysolopha  from the Cordillera de Mérida (Lamas, 2004). Lamas (1995) emphasized that C. chrysolopha chrysolopha  should be restricted to Colombia because “localities of many butterflies collected by Sulkowsky are ambiguous or erroneous.” The origin of the type specimen was also discussed by Wojtusiak (1998) who arrived at the same conclusion as Lamas (1995), that the type specimen of Catasticta chrysolopha  was collected somewhere in Colombia. Neild (pers. comm.) agrees with both Lamas and Wojtusiak about the Colombian origin of the type material because “almost every taxon described before about 1950 (probably even up to 1975) from the Venezuelan Andes was collected in the Mérida range (I have seen none which could have been from the Serrania de El Tamá), so it is almost inconceivable that a name from the 19 th century was based on an El Tamá specimen, even if it does fly there!”. Careful study of the type specimen by both us and Wojtusiak confirms that it matches Colombian specimens, so that the type locality of the species can be restricted to Cundinamarca Department ( Colombia), and its distribution consequently encompasses only the Central and Oriental Colombian Cordilleras northward to the Venezuelan side of Serranía de El Tamá.

Authors treating Catasticta spectrum  offered a variety of opinions on its taxonomic status. Reissinger (1972) described it as a species, but (unpublished manuscript) subsequently suggested that it be considered a subspecies of Catasticta chrysolopha  . Wojtusiak (1998) also considered it to be a valid species due to its distinct dorsal pattern and ecology, and Eitschberger & Racheli (1998) synonymized it with Catasticta chrysolopha chrysolopha  . Finally, Lamas (2004) proposed a new combination, considering it to be a distinct subspecies of chrysolopha  , but without providing any additional details.

We assign specimens from El Tamá to the nominotypical subspecies, but at the same time recognize that long series of specimens from both El Tamá and the Cordillera de Mérida demonstrate stable morphological differences. Thus, we reject the treatment of C. chrysolopha chrysolopha  and C. spectrum  as synonyms, and accept the distinctiveness of the populations from the Cordillera de Mérida. Furthermore, we have encountered specimens from Yacambú, northeast of the Cordillera de Mérida, which clearly represent an additional taxon in this group. Interspecific differences in the genus Catasticta  are generally sustained by clear and discrete differences on the VHW, but in these cases neither Wojtusiak nor we have found them. Genitalic differences between both taxa were reported by our Polish colleague, but we find no evidence in the literature of any species-specific differences in the various taxa of the genus Catasticta  , apart from a single vague reference ( Eitschberger & Racheli, 1998: 12). Moreover, dissections of eight specimens (four from El Tamá and four from Mérida) did not indicate any differences, except for some individual variability in the shape of the harpe and saccus. Recognizing three different taxa in this group of Venezuelan Catasticta  broaches the question of the nature of their relationships, and the problem of reflecting those relationships in an appropriate taxonomy. Accepting Wojtusiak’s thesis that the populations in the Cordillera de Merida represent a distinct species of butterfly would seem to force an analogous treatment for the populations in Yacambú. The degree of morphological differentiation present in this complex, and the clear biogeographic relationships, are expressed by considering all three distinct Venezuelan populations as comprising subspecies of the same specific entity.