The aeolidaceans differ from other nudibranchs by their sleek body and the presence of groups of papillae, called cerata, on the back and sides of the body. Aeolidaceans are usually colorful, specially on the dorsal papillae. The head has, on the front, the oral tentacles, long and thin, and the rhinophores on the top, which can be smooth or have lamellae or warts.

Nemesignis banyulensis by Enric Madrenas

The digestive gland is highly branched and its branches, in the form of hollow conduit, enter inside of each cerata. In many species, the end of the digestive gland on each cerata expands, forming a spherical small bag called cnidosac that is communicated with the outside through a pore, the cnidopore, located on the tip of the cerata. They breath through the skin (cutaneous respiration) because they lack gills, so they use the cerata for gas exchange. Radula is narrow, with a row of teeth (monoseriate radula) or 3 teeth in each row (triseriate radula); generally a pair of chitinous jaws are found in the anterior part of the buccal bulb. Genital and anal orifices are located to the right of the body. The foot may differentiate, in its anterior zone, a pair of propodial palps, shaped short and triangular. Aeolidaceans prey mainly on Cnidarians: polyps of hydrozoans, jellyfish and anemones. This specialization provides these nudibranchs food as well as a defense mechanism of great biological interest because they are able to use for self-defense the stinging capsules (or cnidocysts) from their prey. For still unknown reasons, these cnidocysts are not triggered nor digested by the digestive juices of nudibranch, so they pass through the ramifications of the digestive gland until they reach the cnidosacs on the tip of the cerata, where they are stored. These cnidocysts can be expelled to the outside by contact with the potential predator, they are triggered and perform their defensive action. Some species have specialized in feeding on fish eggs, cirriped crustaceans or even other species of nudibranchs. The aeolidaceans are usually found on hydroid colonies, often the same species that serves them as food, and tend to lay their spawn there as well, usually in the form of a ribbon wrapped in various ways. At other times they can be found below stones, near anemones, even at very shallow depths, or can be found wandering on the rock walls abundant with algae and invertebrates.

Aeolidaceans were classified in the Parvorder Aeolidida that contained three Superfamilies Aeolidioidea, Fionoidea and Flabellinoidea. Bouchet et al.(2017) propose to discard this Parvorder classification in the Cladobranchia, so the mentioned Superfamilies become sisters of other Cladobranchia Superfamilies, like Arminoidea or Dendronotoidea, that were formerly contained in their own Parvorders.


The taxonomy of Aeolidaceans proposed by Bouchet et al. (2017) and accepted by WoRMS is:

  • Superfamily Aeolidioidea Gray, 1827
    • Family Aeolidiidae Gray, 1827
      • Genus Aeolidia Cuvier, 1798
      • Genus Aeolidiella Bergh, 1867
      • Genus Anteaeolidiella M. C. Miller, 2001
      • Genus Baeolidia Bergh, 1888
      • Genus Berghia Trinchese, 1877
      • Genus Bulbaeolidia Carmona, Pola, Gosliner & Cervera, 2013
      • Genus Cerberilla Bergh, 1873
      • Genus Limenandra Haefelfinger & Stamm, 1958
      • Genus Spurilla Bergh, 1864
      • Genus Zeusia Korshunova, Zimina & Martynov, 2017
    • Family Babakinidae Roller, 1973
      • Genus Babakina Roller, 1973
    • Family Facelinidae Bergh, 1889
      • Genus Adfacelina Millen & Hermosillo, 2012
      • Genus Algarvia Garcia-Gomez & Cervera, 1990
      • Genus Amanda Macnae, 1954
      • Genus Anetarca Gosliner, 1991
      • Genus Antonietta Schmekel, 1966
      • Genus Austraeolis Burn, 1962
      • Genus Bajaeolis Gosliner & Behrens, 1986
      • Genus Burnaia M. C. Miller, 2001
      • Genus Caloria Trinchese, 1888
      • Genus Cratena Bergh, 1864
      • Genus Echinopsole Macnae, 1954
      • Genus Emarcusia Roller, 1972
      • Genus Facelina Alder & Hancock, 1855
      • Genus Facelinopsis Pruvot-Fol, 1954
      • Genus Dicata Schmekel, 1967
      • Genus Favorinus Gray, 1850
      • Genus Hermosita Gosliner & Behrens, 1986
      • Genus Herviella Baba, 1949
      • Genus Jason M. C. Miller, 1974
      • Genus Learchis Bergh, 1896
      • Genus Moridilla Bergh, 1888
      • Genus Noumeaella Risbec, 1937
      • Genus Palisa Edmunds, 1964
      • Genus Pauleo Millen & Hamann, 1992
      • Genus Phidiana Gray, 1850
      • Genus Pruvotfolia J. Tardy, 1970
      • Genus Pteraeolidia Bergh, 1875
      • Genus Sakuraeolis Baba, 1965
      • Genus Setoeolis Baba & Hamatani, 1965
    • Family Myrrhinidae Bergh, 1905
      • Genus Godiva Macnae, 1954
      • Genus Hermissenda Bergh, 1879
      • Genus Nanuca Er. Marcus, 1957
      • Genus Nemesignis Furfaro & Mariottini, 2021
      • Genus Phyllodesmium Ehrenberg, 1831
    • Family Flabellinopsidae Korshunova, Martynov, Bakken, Evertsen, Fletcher, Mudianta, Saito, Lundin, Schrödl & Picton, 2017
      • Genus Baenopsis Korshunova, Martynov, Bakken, Evertsen, Fletcher, Mudianta, Saito, Lundin, Schrödl & Picton, 2017
      • Genus Flabellinopsis MacFarland, 1966
    • Family Glaucidae Gray, 1827
      • Genus Glaucus Forster, 1777
    • Family Notaeolidiidae Eliot, 1910
      • Genus Notaeolidia Eliot, 1905
    • Family Piseinotecidae Edmunds, 1970
      • Genus Piseinotecus Er. Marcus, 1955
    • Family Pleurolidiidae Burn, 1966
      • Genus Pleurolidia Burn, 1966
      • Genus Protaeolidiella Baba, 1955

Aeolidacean species recorded in the Mediterranean Sea or around the Iberian Peninsula:

Aeolidia papillosa by Manuel Ballesteros

Aeolidia papillosa

Aeolidia filomenae @ Baleal, Portugal 15-08-2014 by João Pedro Silva

Aeolidia filomenae

Aeolidiella alderi by Miquel Pontes

Aeolidiella alderi

Aeolidiella glauca by Klas Malmberg (Sweden)

Aeolidiella glauca

Aeolidiella sanguinea (Atl.E)

Aeolidiella sanguinea

Algarvia alba @ L'Escala by Enric Madrenas

Algarvia alba

Anteaeolidiella indica by José Carlos García Gómez

Anteaeolidiella indica

Anteaeolidiella lurana by Guido Villani

Anteaeolidiella lurana

Babakina anadoni @ Isla de Tarifa (Med) 06-2015 by Manuel Martínez Chacón

Babakina anadoni

Baenopsis baetica @ Tarifa (Spain) by Manuel Martínez Chacón

Baenopsis baetica

Baeolidia moebii @ Negros Oriental, Philippines 26-10-2003 by Erwin Köhler

Baeolidia moebii

Berghia coerulescens by Enric Madrenas

Berghia coerulescens

Berghia columbina @ Portugal by João Pedro Silva

Berghia columbina

Berghia creutzbergi by Linda Ianniello

Berghia creutzbergi

Berghia marinae @ Mataró by Manuel Ballesteros

Berghia marinae

Berghia verrucicornis @ Cap de Creus, juny del 2020, by Enric Madrenas

Berghia verrucicornis

Caloria elegans by Enric Madrenas

Caloria elegans

Caloria indica @ Bali by Enric Madrenas

Caloria indica

Caloria quatrefagesi @ L'Escala, 31-3-2017 by Enric Madrenas

Caloria quatrefagesi

Cerberilla bernadettae @ Sepieres (L'Escala) 4-08-2016 by Enric Madrenas

Cerberilla bernadettae

Cratena peregrina by Miquel Pontes

Cratena peregrina

Dicata odhneri by Cataldo Licchelli

Dicata odhneri

Facelina annulicornis @ Costa Brava (Spain) by Enric Madrenas

Facelina annulicornis

Facelina auriculata @ L'Escala, 4-1-2018 by Enric Madrenas

Facelina auriculata

Facelina bostoniensis - Photograph ©Bernard Picton

Facelina bostoniensis

Facelina dubia @ Ponton De La Bordelaise, Bassin de Thau, France 11.03.2021 by Pascal Girard

Facelina dubia

Facelina fusca @ Portlligat (Cadaqués) 20080531 by Miquel Pontes

Facelina fusca

Facelina rubrovittata by Enric Madrenas

Facelina rubrovittata

Facelina schwobi by Manuel Ballesteros

Facelina schwobi

Facelina vicina @ Badalona (Barcelona, Spain) by Miquel Pontes

Facelina vicina

Facelinopsis marioni @ L'Escala by Enric Madrenas

Facelinopsis marioni

Favorinus blianus moullieres 21062008 by Jean Michel Crouzet

Favorinus blianus

Favorinus branchialis by Enric Madrenas

Favorinus branchialis

Favorinus ghanensis by Tamsouri et al (2014)

Favorinus ghanensis

Favorinus vitreus @ La Laja, Gran Canaria by Jose Carlos Galens

Favorinus vitreus

Glaucus atlanticus @ Boynton Beach, Florida, USA 28-01-2018 by Ariane Dimitris

Glaucus atlanticus

Godiva quadricolor @ Cala Egos, Mallorca by Tià Pons

Godiva quadricolor

Learchis poica @ Lake Worth Lagoon, Florida, USA by Sandra Edwards

Learchis poica

Limenandra nodosa, L'Escala, by Enric Madrenas

Limenandra nodosa

Nanuca occidentalis @ Key Largo, Florida (USA) by Manuel Malaquías

Nanuca occidentalis

Nanuca trainitoi @ Kalami, Crete (Greece) 14-02-2020 by Emmanouil Darakis

Nanuca trainitoi

Nemesignis banyulensis by Enric Madrenas

Nemesignis banyulensis

Phidiana lynceus @ La Laja, Gran Canaria by Jose Carlos Galens

Phidiana lynceus

Phidiana militaris @ Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park, Hong Kong (6m) 20°C, 17-04-2016 by Markus Rummel

Phidiana militaris

Piseinotecus soussi by Enric Madrenas

Piseinotecus soussi

Piseinotecus sphaeriferus @Azoia, Setúbal, Portugal 27-08-2011 by João Pedro Silva

Piseinotecus sphaeriferus

Pruvotfolia pselliotes @ Split (Croatia) 0.5m by Jakov Prkić

Pruvotfolia pselliotes

Spurilla neapolitana by Enric Madrenas

Spurilla neapolitana


    Bouchet P, Rocroi JP, Hausdorf B, et al. 2017. Revised classification, nomenclator and typification of gastropod and monoplacophoran families. Malacologia. 61(1–2):1–526.

    Bibliography based on the works by Steve Long, 2006. Bibliography of Opisthobranchia 1554-2000 and Gary McDonald, 2009. Bibliographia Nudibranchia, with later updates from other resources.