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Butterflies

Some time ago, I started updating the butterfly taxonomy to follow Opler and Warren's list of North American butterflies (available as a PDF here). There are currently quite a few changes that would need to be made to fully follow this taxonomy. For one thing, I originally sorted out the Lycaenidae according to a different classification system, with each group in their own subfamily, but Opler and Warren have two subfamilies (Miletinae and Lycaeninae) with blues, coppers, and hairstreaks in different tribes in Lycaeninae (actually 2 tribes for hairstreaks). Other changes to Bugguide usage that I can find would include:

Fixsenia [cite:17777] goes back into Satyrium (1)
Callophrys rosneri [cite:19675] is lumped in C. nelsoni
Everes (2) gets renamed Cupido
Celastrina echo and C. lucia are split out of C. ladon (3)
Lycaeides [cite:7369] and Agriades [cite:25063] are lumped with Plebejus (4)
Euphilotes ancilla [cite:24982] is a full species
Boloria montinus (5) is lumped into B. chariclea
Phyciodes campestris (6) is renamed P. pulchella, and P. selenis (7) is renamed P. cocyta
Nymphalis vaualbum (8) gets its own genus, Roddia
Milbert's Tortoiseshell (9) is in Aglais rather than Nymphalis
Anaea floridalis (10) is renamed A. troglodyta

This is a fair number of changes, and it would be good to get agreement on following Opler and Warren before I go ahead and make all of them. I think it is a good list to follow, as it is pretty much up-to-date (2003), and made by two expert taxonomists. It would be good for us to have a single source to follow for butterfly taxonomy questons. If anyone has any objections (or agrees with following this list) please make your comments here.

Plebejus
Jonathan P. Pelham keeps an updated list at http://butterfliesofamerica.com, last updated March 2016 here. He elevates subgenera of Plebejus to genus. His 2012 list, still viewable here, looks like the way BG has it. Does anyone know if something was recently published? Should we be following Pelham?

 
Plebejus - is a difficult question
I know this isn't an answer, and maybe I'm going to write way more than I need to here, but it might help some with understanding the situation.

This is I think largely an opinion driven issue. The debate over limits of genera in Blues is very old one, and has gone on for many decades (probably for a full century now). You'll notice that few of the names involved above species ranking are new ones, but rather they are old names with a long history of reshuffling. Each new author to publish on the group has rearranged them a bit differently and often used different rankings for the various groups of species. Many people working with Blues (particularly in Europe and North America) currently have a strong tendency to split species and genera [beyond what I personally think is useful, natural, or realistic]. I have no problem with recognizing subgenera, species groups, and subspecies, but many people do. However, even though it is key to this issue of names of Blues, I don't really want to get into the definition of a species (or genus) here right now. There are very many polulations of closely related Blues across the entire Northern Hemisphere and in Africa. Most workers who specialize in Blues tend to divide them up rather finely, but most workers who do not specialize in them are less inclined to do so (or have no strong opinion).

I would have to review recent literature on molecular phylogenetics, which may have clarified some of the groupings within the Plebejus complex. The last work I saw tended to reinforce my own opinions on the group, but there could be more recent work published. Right now, I don't know if the recent treatment within the Pehlam listing is simply following/matching the tendency to split taxa on the Butterflies of America web site, to jive with what is seen in most treatments of European butterflies, or if it is actually based on recent literature on the classification and phylogeny of the group. I suppose we should look into this. I'll try to remember to send a note to Jonathan.

As for my personal opinion. I would consider Agriades, Icaricia, Lycaeides, Polyommatus, and several others as nothing more than (often weakly-differentiated) species groups or subgenera within Plebejus. And, to me it would seem more useful and meaningful to treat them as such; it is also less confusing for people trying to identify and learn about them if they are grouped based on similarities rather than focusing on rather minor differences. But then I do tend to lean toward the conservative side when it comes to defining genera (and species). However, the bottom line is that it is no more "correct" or "wrong" to separate the groups as genera, or to great them as subgenera or species groups under a single genus.

BAMONA, at least for the moment, treats the Plebejus complex (except for Polyommatus) as one genus.

The situation here is actually not unlike that seen in a number of other (often equally large and wide-ranging) genera. Papilio comes to mind as one. A smaller genus that many of us are familiar with is Vanessa, which has been divide up, or not, based on rather similar levels of distinction. Others include Pieris, Limenitis (includes Basilarchia), Euphydryas, Nymphalis, Chlosyne, Argynnis (includes our Speyeria), and the list goes on - and on. A few (such as Nymphalis [sensu latu - includes Polygonia, Inachis, Aglais, Roddia, & Kaniska]) are traditionally and usually split, at least somewhat, while a majority of the others are not. The current prevalent world view treatment of such groups is mixed, but it seems to still lean more toward treating them as larger diverse genera rather than multiple "micro-genera" (which are generally less clearly defined), but in nearly all cases, it is debated and even hottly argued.

As for "official" treatments of Blues, they have oscillated back and forth depending on the opinions of the author. I also suspect that Jonathan Pelham will be the first to tell you that his listing is not intended to be an official taxonomic reference, but rather just his interpretation of how best to list the various taxa of butterflies found in the U.S. and Canada. We do tend to follow his listing as our guide for butterfly nomenclature on BugGuide though, largely because it seems to have become the listing most followed by others [in the United States anyway], and it is very comprehensive and well-done. However, we are not religiously tied to it, and can decide to use different taxonomies where it seems to make sense. We could decide to follow one or another listing religiously, but so far we have not (that I'm aware of). We have deviated or lagged in some cases, and as evidence builds we have jumped ahead of this one in a few other cases. Also, new molecular / phylogenetic evidence does not answer all questions of where to "split" or "lump" various taxa (as some imply or believe it does). Categories of names are basically just a filing system, and we decide how big or small to make the various subfolders, and how to deal with the files that don't quite fit into one folder or another. It still boils down to opinion and interpretation. However, new molecular / phylogenetic evidence does help to clarify the big picture of just what is most related to what.

 
OK
So then I guess we should leave this as is unless we find that there really is a new paper which Pelham is following which caused him to make the changes.

 
I did get a bit carried away - didn't I
Anyway, I agree, I think we should wait a bit and learn more. After writing all that, I should add, and it may be hard to believe, that it really doesn't matter much to me one way or the other.

Sorry, started to comment on a perceived problem here,
but it was all in my imagination - so - this is a non-comment that I sort of have to write something in now, because I already posted it and had to delete it somehow. :0)

A new proposal for three "genera" in Melitaeini
I have for quite a number of years considered Dymasia & Texola as synonyms of Microtia, and have treated the species accordingly for my own purposes (in fact I think of them all as "Microtia" automatically, and often write the names that way in correspondences - which tends to get some reaction from those not familiar with idea). However, this has rarely been done in popular literature on butterflies, and does not yet show up in the Butterflies of America listing. In the online preliminary version of the Jonathan Pelham Catalogue (2006) Dymasia was listed as a synonym under Microtia, but Texola was not yet so treated. I still need to look in the print (2008) version to see what was done there (I do not have it in hand at the moment), but I don't think they are placed together there.

The following treatments do make a very strong case for this treatment, and follow it. It seems silly for our three species, so obviously so very closely related, to be treated in separate genera (there are additional species in Mexico though). The two species M. elada & M. dymas are in fact so very similar that they can be easily confused (at least on passing examination) sometimes even by experts. The rational for lumping them involves like morphology (including immature stages), molecular studies which consistently group them tightly together, and the fact that other genera commonly considered as one unit contain much more divergent species (case in point being closely related Chlosyne). In fact a case could be made for moving all of the species of the Microtia/Texola/Dymasia complex into Chlosyne, but they differ as a group strongly enough from that closely related genus that this has rarely been suggested, and makes much less sense. Some argue that the coloring of M. elva is distinctly unique, but this is not a strong enough argument alone to separate it, and such unique patterns are seen in species among many genera (again Chlosyne is a good example). There is also the (relatively weak, but still compelling) argument of convenience.

The following references are among those that follow the consolidated treatment for these three generic names as synonyms under one single genus Microtia (the name of priority). There are probably others of which I am yet unaware:

Erlich, Paul R. & Ilkka Hanski (editors), 2004, 'On the Wings of Checkerspots'. Oxford University Press

Kons, H. L. Jr., 2000: 'Phylogenetic studies of the Melitaeini (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Nymphalinae) and a revision of the genus Chlosyne Butler', PhD thesis, University of Florida, Gainesville

Wahlberg, Niklas, frequently updated: 'Nymphalidae.net'

Melitaeini treatment at: 'Nymphalidae Systematics Group'

This is a case where people working on the phylogeny and classification of the group have pretty much decided, but listings have not quite caught up yet. I would propose to go ahead and lump them together here (with explanation included), even though it is not done yet on Butterflies of America nor in Pehlam's listing. It is certainly not a necessity; and, in fact it is mostly just something that has bothered me for a long time, and I've now got a pretty good case to back up "doing it my way". We can certainly wait, but I wanted to test the waters and see what others thought before I actually do it.

 
printed Pelham
Has all 3 separate and lists them along with Poladryas and Chlosyne in an unnamed tribe (citing an in prep paper from Wahlberg et al).
As long as there's a source to point people towards, I'm pretty indifferent.

Side note: I seem to remember talk about occasional updates for Pelham. I've pretty much stopped following most of the lists but assume I would see if something like that was posted. Still happening or any news? Would be nice to fill in all those unnamed tribes.

 
Thanks for checking, that's what I thought, but I wasn't sure
I could have checked myself last night, but forgot. Wahlberg's web sites have Microtia, Dymasia, & Texola combined now in all the most recent encarnations, the hesitation seems to have passed there. On those sites they are put into a subtribe "Chlosynina" of tribe Melitaeini, though the name Chlosynina is used in something of an unofficial way. [Not sure when that ending "ina" took over from "iti" - hmmm.]

Wahlberg cites Kons 2000 when he states the name Chlosynina is "not available yet", which I assume means it's not yet been "officially" published (though I could swear I've seen it properly published somewhere, perhaps (?) by Higgins as "Chlosyniti"). Seems to me that Kons' or Wahlberg's usages might actually count as publishing at that ranking (I'd have to check the rules).

Anyway, we haven't used the tribes, let alone subtribes for most (any?) butterflies yet on BugGuide, but in the case of Nymphalidae listing the tribes might not be a bad idea (though the tribes within Biblidinae and Satyrinae are a bit of an ill-defined mess).

http://www.nymphalidae.net/Phylogeny/Chlosynina.htm
http://www.nymphalidae.net/Classification/Melitaeini.htm
This one is dated 2008 - the leap wasn't made by Wahlberg yet then:
http://www.tolweb.org/Chlosyne-group/70306

Looking for "Chlosyinina" I found these (nothing very useful to indicate proper publication of the name anywhere, but the name has certainly taken root):
http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Chlosynina
http://taxonomicon.taxonomy.nl/TaxonTree.aspx?id=1109104
http://www.biolib.cz/en/taxon/id685855/
http://www.funet.fi/pub/sci/bio/life/insecta/lepidoptera/ditrysia/papilionoidea/nymphalidae/nymphalinae/index.html#Wahlberg
http://www.infochembio.ethz.ch/links/en/zool_schmet_nymphalinae_chlosynina.html
And, there are many more.

As for "lumping" the three "genera" here, I'll hold off for a bit longer, but I think I will probably go for it before too long. I have a hunch that Butterflies of America might follow Kons and Wahlberg soon, and think I might have had a little email exchange about it with Jonathan Pelham some time in the past (but want to double check that).

Common names for the order
Could we use "Butterflies, Moths, and Skippers" instead of "Butterflies and Moths" as the common name for Lepidoptera? It could help people who don't know the taxonomy, especially because the clickable guide only goes to moths and "Butterflies (excluding skippers)." I feel like the term "skipper" should appear in the breadcrumbs so people using the clickable guide can at least see where to go.

I know there is a link to skippers way down on the "Butterflies (excluding skippers)" info page, but it can be hard to find with so much butterfly info and photos to scroll through.

Hopefully I'm not beating this to death, but I didn't learn that skippers were taxonomically separated from butterflies until a few years ago, when reared some of those nifty bobble-headed caterpillars and couldn't find the adults in my little pocket butterfly guide!

 
Name change
I does make it easier to find the skippers (but those who consider skippers to BE butterflies may disagree). I like it for the ease of use to the average BG user.

 
definitely not trying to argue about that...
The whole question of superfamilies is way over my head, but I figure as long as the Guide separates them on the taxonomy tree, they may as well be separate in the common name list.

 
What about
something like "Butterflies (including skippers) and Moths"?

 
I think
that's the best solution.

 
I like the first option
The "(including skippers)" reads like footnotes added by a committee.

The fact is that butterflies (including skippers) are now considered to be an offshoot of the moths (probably somewhere in or around the Geometroidea).

We're already violating phylogenetic accuracy by saying "butterflies and moths", so we might as well go with simplicity and clarity.

 
Any one
in favor of of trying to figure out how to follow a more correct/modern system and merge them?

 
It's that way for a reason
This one of the cases where ease of use trumps strict phylogenetic accuracy. It makes the site easier to navigate and is less confusing for novice users.

Moths have much more in common with each other than they do with butterflies, in the same way that sharks and lungfish have much more in common with each other than with us- even though we are, phylogenetically speaking, just a highly-modified species of lungfish.

 
I think
that would just consist of deleting the "no taxon - Moths" node, so that all Lepidopteran superfamilies are at the same level. The main effect of this would be that clicking on the moth icon in the clickable guide would take you to Lepidoptera rather than to "moths," but there should be little difference in what you see when you get there, since any unidentified butterfly/skipper images should be placed at superfamily or family level. I have no problem with that, but I suspect that others might... There could still be a "no taxon - Butterflies and Skippers" node, since butterflies and skippers are sister groups.

 
one level of superfamilies - numbers thereof
BugGuide currently has 30 nodes for moth superfamilies, vs. one each for butterflies and skippers. Having all 32 superfamilies on the same level, so the Lepidoptera taxonomy tree is one long list, might intimidate or discourage novices. Heck, I'm reasonably familiar w/ Lepidoptera, but the Moth superfamily list intimidates me a bit too!

 
Thought I'd weigh in here with an opinion
First I went to the icons at the left, and clicked on the Butterfly - at the moment I get Butterflies (excluding Skippers). Got'a say, I don't like that. I click on the Moth, and I get Moths (but it also excludes both Butterflies and Skippers). Here's what I don't like. The Skippers have no direct link, you have to hunt for them. I think the Butterfly icon should go to both Butterflies and Skippers (the old Rhopolocera if you will - even if the name isn't used), and the split should be made after that. OR There should be a Skipper icon (seems a bit of overkill to me - three icons for Lepidoptera?).

Simple enough to write "Butterflies and Skippers", without all the parentheses and such that seem to be causing some hesitation. I agree with a node equivalent (in BugGuide organization) to "Moths. It's certainly a more "natural" grouping than all the Moths together is, and just as useful for navigation. :-)

Never did understand the debate over "Skippers vs. Butterflies" anyway. Skippers are just a group within Butterflies (just like Swallowtails or Pierids are) - I've thought of them that way for over 40 years.

 
Clickable guide
If we could get the butterfly icon changed to go to "Buterflies and Skippers", at the same time I would like to see the dragonfly icon go to "Dragonflies and Damselflies"

 
Should have replied long ago, but I would agree with
John's comment about Damselflies as well - at least to keep in mind for the upgrades. Similar situation to Skippers - sort of lost in limbo-land, until you actively hunt for them.

 
mmm - no action on either of these proposals
click from "Clickable Guide" to [Dragonflies + Damselflies], as well as [Butterflies + Skippers]. Has there been any more discussion anywhere else on the subject?

It is rather annoying to have to hunt around for Damselflies and for Skippers. It must really be confusing for people who don't know where and how to look.

Just curious.

 
We (J&J) have no idea what the facepage
of BugGuide 2.0 will look like. It may have separate clickable images for butterflies and skippers and/or maybe separate images for dragonflies and damselflies. We just don't know. Basically, I think, we are waiting for 2.0 so that such change proposals can be made there instead of wasting time making those changes here when we're just going to switch over soon (we hope)

 
Shouldn't bee too hard
but we need coding changes.
To change to [Dragonflies + Damselflies] would require that the destination for the link be node 77 instead of the current 191.

For [Butterflies + Skippers] we would first have to make the No Taxon page for that level, move Butterflies and Skippers under that node, and then have a similar coding change for the link from node 81 to the number of the new No Taxon page [Butterflies + Skippers].

 
hear hear - clickable guide convenience
The clickable guide seems to me like the visual key to orders on the endpapers or first few pages of many field guidesOnce you click to the node (or metaphorically turn to the page) of the order/superfamily/family, there is more detailed information for narrowing it down. Getting to Order Odonata by clicking the dragonfly and then using the breadcrumbs to backtrack (one extra click) or going to the Taxonomy tab and moving up (two extra clicks) seems like too much extra navigation, especially for those who either aren't familiar with the differences between dragonflies and damselflies, or do know there's a difference but simply want quick access to the order.

Also, it's at the order level that the features common to all the families in it are explained (well, most of the time), and print or Internet references to the entire order are given. If I click on the dragonfly and only go to the dragonfly node, I won't find information on Odonata in general that might be useful or interesting.

(Actually the Odonata Info page is pretty sparse and doesn't have a lot of resources, but my point stands, I hope.)

 
Good point
I'm happy as long as the actual taxonomic tree is correct, as currently understood--which it wasn't until I moved the skippers out of Papilionoidea in April. Ideally, I guess, the viceroy icon in the clickable guide would go to a "no taxon" butterflies node, including both the Papilionoidea and the Hesperioidea.

 
clickable guide -> butterflies & skippers = happy me
Clicking on a butterfly and getting to a page w/ both butterflies and skippers is exactly what I wanted, but I didn't know it was possible! Easier to navigate, especially for beginners and casual users, but doesn't interfere w/ the current taxonomy.

I edited a couple of links on the Lepidoptera info page so clicking "skipper" goes to April's Hesperoidea page, instead of the butterfly-only node 81. (I noticed how recently the split was made as I was doing that. I hope I haven't stirred up a hot topic again...)

 
Clickable guide
Making the "no taxon - butterflies" page would be easy; then I think we'd need John VanDyk to change the link in the clickable guide. I imagine that would be simple for him to do.

To streamline things, it's better to make skipper links go to Hesperiidae, since that's the only family in Hesperoidea. I edited one link on the Lepidoptera page (under "Identification") just now, but didn't see the other(s) you're referring to.

You're not stirring up a hot topic, I don't think... as far as I know it was never correct to put skippers in Papilionoidea, or at least not since BugGuide has existed.

if I get time soon
I'll tackle some of these if they aren't already done when I get to it. I'll try to sort out the Apodemia mormo complex too. Another problem with the Greenies (Callophrys) is that the identification is sometimes really difficult to be accurate with, but I think most of them can be sorted properly. Same comment for Celastrina. I certainly can't tell them apart. There is too much variation within the one (or two, or three?) wide-ranging multivoltine species for me to see what makes a regionally, or seasonally, or worst of all host plant based "species" different.

New subject - Hesperiidae
Changing the subject from the Pelham list, but related, is the classification of the Hesperiidae presented in a recent paper. When Pelham's catalog and this paper came out in roughly the same time period, and show similarities, but there are differences. This is a paper proposing a classification of the Skippers based on DNA sequence data. The classification used by Pelham is still moderately traditional (with a few minor exceptions, such as the Eudaminae pulled out of the Pyrginae). The traditional classifications of Hesperiidae has never made much sense to me, with obviously related things in different subfamilies, and things not so close typically included in the same subfamily. This new proposal seems to make some sense, and it is based on hard data. Looking at the data presented, I do wonder at some of the ways things are grouped (i.e. why is the Eudamini still included in the Pyrginae?, when their presented pylogenetic tree would group it perhaps even more closely with the Heteropterinae+Trapezitinae+Hesperiinae, yet those three are still split).Thus the circumscriptions still seem perhaps a bit too influenced by tradition and a tad inconsistent. [note: on Tolweb, the same aurhors now recognize Eudaminae as a good subfamily.] Even so, the treatment in this paper is based more in reality than anything before, and problem areas still needing more attention are outlined. So, I thought I'd bring it to the attention of the group subscribing to this page. I expect it is near to what will be eventually generally accepted (and I suspect the next version of the Pelham list and Brower & Warren's treatment will converge??). I will not now go so far as rearranging the whole family in BugGuide based on this paper, but I wanted to throw the subject out for consideration. Here is the link to the paper.

Another note relating to Hesperiidae is that the Megathyminae is still recognized as a subfamily on BugGuide. It's a favorite little group of genera, but clearly they are just specialized Grass Skippers (subfamily Hesperiinae); perhaps they make a good subtribe?. I hesitate to move them, since it might cause a small riot! On Tolweb and in Pelham's catalogue they are treated as belonging tribe Erionotini of the subfamily Hesperiinae.

Phylogenetic relationships of subfamilies and circumscription of
Tribes in the Family Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera: Hesperioidea)
Warren, Ogawac, & Brower; Cladistics 24 (2008) 1–35

 
*
(never mind)

 
As they affect BugGuide
...two relatively minor changes mentioned in the abstract of the paper could be easily accommodated this way:

1. Move genus Pyrrhopyge from subfamily Pyrrhopyginae to subfamily Pyrginae, and delete subfamily Pyrrhopyginae.

2. Move the three genera Agathymus, Megathymus, Stallingsia from subfamily Megathyminae to subfamily Hesperiinae, and delete subfamily Megathyminae.

This would reduce the number of Hesperiidae subfamilies from six to four in the list here. The changes have been made in the butterfliesofamerica.com Interactive Listing, which was last updated 6 days ago, and represents (I think) the online version of Pelham's list that I mentioned here.

The biggest change mentioned in the paper appears on page 7:
"In summary, our results imply that four subfamilies of Hesperiidae should be recognized: Coeliadinae, Heteropterinae, Trapezitinae and Hesperiinae."

Two of these (Coeliadinae and Trapezitinae) are new names that don't appear in Pelham's current online list linked to above, so I don't think it's time yet to make those major changes at BugGuide. The paper also has a lengthy discussion of tribes, but BugGuide has no tribes set up in Hesperiidae, so as long as genera are placed in the proper subfamily, tribal questions are not really a concern to us.

In my opinion, it shouldn't be a problem to make the two minor changes as long as we note what has been done on the appropriate pages and provide a link to the source of information.

Two problem genera
I would like to propose a couple of changes in arrangement that I think would make things a bit easier. These relate to two unrelated genera :)

Callophrys subgenus Callophrys is confusing and is a bit of a mess. Literature is conflicting, and I would like to go ahead and put things in the arrangement that is followed in Pelham's list, simply because it makes some sense, and it is current. A first step in following up on the line of discussion above. Overall, I think little change needs to be made to the way things are already arranged in the butterflies on BugGuide, since most of the listings are fundamentally in agreement. This group is a minor exception. Opler and Warren didn't fully break down subspecies in their on-line list, and left a lot of questions unanswered, with comments made as to posible relationships. Pelham has taken the treatment several steps further. It still may not be a fully natural or "real" treatment, but it is closer, and will put similar insects together in a logical way. So far, we've used the framework that was in place. Following Pelham will mean a few shifts in which photo is under which species.

Euphydryas is not quite so simple. Regarding the E. anicia/ chalcedona/ colon group, every treatment is different, yet every one seems to make some good points. There are a few ways to look at the group. One is orange (mostly mountain populations) vs. black and white (mostly lowland or near coastal populations). This would resolve as ''E. anicia - like'' and ''E. chalcedona/ colon/ bernadetta - like'', and puts (in my opinion) populations that truly are related and blend into one another in the same groups (this is still over simplified a bit though). The other way is to look solely at their genitalia, which splits them roughly [/i]E. chalcedona[/i] - west and E. anicia east (but tends to ignore coloring, habitat preference, and what flies alongside of what while staying distinctly different in the field). This second method is basically what has been followed by most workers, but in varying combinations, and has yielded some very confusing and obviously artificial results. Then there is the third approach. The confusing and often illogical results of previous attempts, and the fact that the butterflies don't read what is written about them, lead to the "hands up in the air" approach of lumping the whole mess as one "megaspecies" called the "Variable Checkerspot" with the oldest name E. chalcedona applied to all.

What I would like to do here, to stay "legal" is use the Opler and Warren list as a base for which species to recognize, but to follow the subspecies listing of Pelham (the difference is that Pelham leaves E. chalcedona and E. colon separate - an unnecessary complication). I would like to break the resulting two categories each into two groups of subspecies based on appearance, in order to group like with like. That way, they will be in taxonomically "legal" categories, but will also be sorted in a way that allows people to easily access ones that look alike. So, basically it will come out like this, with four species level groupings:

E. anicia
E. anicia (chalcedona - like)
E. chalcedona
E. chalcedona (anicia - like)

I know this is doing a bit of picking and choosing, but it also allows most populations (and thus submitted photos) to be placed into logical groupings and to be more easily identified by people tooning in. I could dump the subspecies categories, [and there are an excessive number of them published] but it is easy enough to assign them, and they do further put similar looking with similar looking. (opinions?)

I've made some progress in putting like with like, but would like to see how others feel about establishing this framework. (???)

There aren't many other groups of NA Butterflies so complicated, but there are a few (i.e. Blues, Fritillaries, some Swallowtails, etc.). At least most of those are treated in a fairly stable manor now.

Thanks

 
Don't know enough to comment on your plan,
but we say if it makes sense to you, then do it. All the work you have been doing on organizing the butterfly images certainly earns you the authority to make these few small decisions. You may wish to wait for a couple of days to see if someone who knows about butterflies (not us) has something substantive to add.

Getting back to
the basic first question. I thought I'd throw this into the mix. The following publication is fast becoming the standard that is being accepted by a large number of (if not the majority) of Lepidopterists in North America north of Mexico. The author has done a very thorough job of this publication, and has taken a generally middle of the road approach to many difficult problems of taxonomic and nomenclatural disagreement. I don't always agree with the end decision myself, but that can be said of all such publications. All and all, I think this is the best compendium of the names of butterflies and their classification available to date for this region, and it might be worth considering using it as the standard to follow for BugGuide?

I know that there are some differences between this listing and Opler and Warren's, but I have not compared them item for item. The Pelham list is probably the more up to date at this point. Unlike some of the other listings, it does recognize and treat subspecies.

If nothing else it gives another alternative for referencing in making decisions on how to treat various taxa.

Catalogue of the Butterflies of the United States and Canada, by Jonathan Pelham, 2008

 
Can we go ahead with this?
It's been five months and there appears to be consensus on using Pelham as a reference for butterflies.

But wouldn't the online list be a better choice than the hard copy, as I mentioned below?

The old references to Opler and Warren would have to be changed to the new reference on several of BugGuide's Info pages.

 
We would support making the online list identified
as BugGuide's official butterfly reference and we would support the necessary taxonomic changes in the guidepages to get us into agreement with that list.

 
I agree
I'm not sure if the online list will be dynamic with updates, but it might be. That could cause the rare conflict requiring attention when something gets chaged, but overall I think it's the best choice for right now. [and changes are happening regardless of which list anyway]

 
There is a recent update to the Pelham Butterfly Catalogue
It is viewable on line here, and a printed copy can be purchased through BioQuip.

 
I assume that
the date at the top of the Interactive Listing represents the most recent update. Today it shows 19 Apr 2009, and a week ago it showed 11 Apr 2009, so updates are apparently happening frequently.

I haven't found a list of updates describing what particular changes were made on each occasion. Maybe there isn't one.

 
Let's do it!
I think it's safe to say that we all agree to go ahead and use the BOA list for the BugGuide butterfly taxonomy. I think we should just go ahead and start making the relevant changes.

What about common names, though? Are we sticking to the Pelham/BOA list? If so, there will be some significant changes. For example, many metalmarks are now called by their genus name (e.g. Emesis emesia is now Curve-winged Emesis). My opinion is that we should follow the new common names in the BOA list b/c these will likely become the standards.

 
Callophrys changes
These are the changes needed within the genus Callophrys that involve changing the taxon level of a guide page:

1) C. affinis perplexa is a full species, C. perplexa.

2) C. apama needs to become a subspecies of C. affinis.

3) C. nelsoni needs to become a subspecies of C. gryneus.

 
Changes needed
I've started making the relevant changes to the taxonomy and went up to (but didn't include yet) the Nymphalidae. There are a few changes that I cannot make b/c a guide page needs to change taxon level. Can someone with these abilities please make the following changes to correspond to the Pelham list:

1) Anthocharis stella and A. thoosa need to become subspecies of A. sara.

2) Euchloe hyantis lotta needs to become the full species E. lotta, Desert Marble.

3) Lycaena ferrisi needs to become a subspecies of L. rubidus.

4) Lots of changes needed within the genus Callophrys, for which I'll include a separate post.

5) Celastrina cinerea needs to become a subspecies of C. echo.

6) Plebejus rustica needs to become a subspecies of P. glandon.

 
hard copy versus online list
Although I haven't seen the hard copy version, I think the link Jason gave might represent an online version of Pelham's Catalogue named Butterflies of America. In the introduction it states "...nomenclature generally follows Pelham (2008) and/or Opler & Warren (2002, 2005) for taxa occurring in the United States and Canada...". Further down it states "This listing will be updated on a near daily basis, so please check back often for updates!"

The list itself has links to references and species/subspecies pages with many large photos of specimens, which is great for online comparison of BugGuide images.

In my opinion the main advantages of the online list are:
1. everyone (who has Internet access) has access to it
2. the authors have promised to keep it updated
3. it's free (whereas the hard copy, with shipping from BioQuip, costs US $47.50 or about $60 Canadian at today's exchange rates)

 
another online version of Pelham's list
was a pre-publication version, and is basically identical to the interactive listing, but isn't being updated. However, as a quick reference it is easy to access here

 
seconded
Been meaning to propose that myself. I believe the list from here is based on Pelham's work. Looking at the site, the graphics (ugh) of synonomy appear to be straight from the catalogue.

 
Thirded
I also think we should make the Pelham taxonomy the standard for BugGuide. In my mind, Opler & Warren was really just a stand-in until Pelham was finished. :-) And I also agree that the taxonomy at the Butterflies of America seems to be identical and will likely be updated accordingly.

As an aside, in accordance with this taxonomy, Celastrina cinerea should be a subspecies of C. echo. I don't think there's a good basis for including it as a separate species in BG, as it has yet to be recognized as such by any of the major taxonomy lists used here. If others agree, I can move it.

 
Dr Tony Thomas in the past
would, at the end of each season, run all the new BugGuide Celastrina images past Dr David Wright and Henry Pavulaan. They would comment on the images and Tony would put them all away. Unfortunately, with Tony gone from BugGuide, this isn't getting done this year. We would suggest in this instance, that BugGuide follow whatever Wright and Pavulaan propose. We don't know what that is, though there are long comments on BugGuide, on the Celastrina page here for example, and we don't even know if they discuss western Celastrina. But if they do, since most of the images of Celastrina on BugGuide have been moved to guide pages based upon their advice, we would suggest continuing to follow their advice.
Other thoughts from folks?

Just checked the cinerea images on BugGuide and two of them had been confirmed by Dr Wright. (But we don't know if that was intended as species or subspecies.)

 
Pelham
Couldn't agree more on Pelham..this is the way to go and is widely accepted as the best available taxonomic resourse. Sure taxonomy has changes already on many species but this is the most up to date guide I am aware of.

Crescent taxonomy
Since it looks like All-Leps is the default taxonomy for BugGuide, the genus Anthanassa should be created and the following crescents should be moved to it from the genus Phyciodes:
Cuban Crescent (A. frisia)
Pale-banded Crescent (A. tulcis)
Texan Crescent (A. texana)

This agrees with the O&W list, too.

 
 
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