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Master List of Online Taxonomy References (please read!)

I thought it would be nice if there was one place for BugGuide editors to look when trying to figure out which taxonomy to follow when creating and revising guide pages. My hope is to make this list as complete and current as possible, so please chime in if you have any resources to add (or subtract). If any major debate needs to happen regarding a particular taxon, it would be best to start a new forum discussion and mention it here. I'll include links to relevant discussions that I know about.

With the many exceptions noted below, it seems to me that ITIS is the best default reference to use. I've been using Nomina Nearctica as a last resort when all else fails; it is going offline on Oct. 1, but for anyone who has a personal copy it will still be a good resource for neglected taxa (copies can be purchased here). It really is a last resort, though: see Bob Carlson's comment here.

The various "Species File" websites are proving to be very valuable resources. The existing ones are noted below, and we can check this site periodically for new ones.

Mites & ticks: We have been using the "Acari Project," a.k.a. "Synopsis of the Described Arachnida of the World." It is a pain to naviagate (not searchable) but I haven't been able to find a better alternative. It would be nice if there was one, though, since our mite experts often seem to disagree with this classification. I contacted the person who is allegedly in charge of the Oribatida section there, and he said he had nothing to do with it; he referred me to a recent catalog that has already been incorporated into ITIS.
Spiders (World Spider Catalog)
Windscorpions (Solifugae): Brookhart and Brookhart (2006), "An annotated checklist of continental North American Solifugae with type depositories, abundance, and notes on their biogeography."
Pseudoscorpions of the World
Scorpions: Kari's Scorpion Pages vs. The Scorpion Files
Other Arachnids: Class Arachnida in North America (north of Mexico) (maintained by Mark Harvey, Western Australian Museum)

MICROCORYPHIA (Bristletails)

ZYGENTOMA (Silverfish)

EPHEMEROPTERA (Mayflies) - Mayfly Central, Purdue University; Ephemeroptera Galactica

ODONATA (North American Odonata, University of Puget Sound)

PLECOPTERA (Stoneflies) - Valid Stonefly Names for North America by B.P. Stark, R.W. Baumann, and R.E. DeWalt; Plecoptera Species File. This USGS site appears to give a common name for every species in the US.

EMBIIDINA (Webspinners) - Embioptera Species File; World List of Extant and Fossil Embiidina (=Embioptera)

PHASMIDA - Phasmid Study Group has been proposed; Phasmida Species File is another option and is easier to navigate.

ORTHOPTERA (Orthoptera Species File)

NOTOPTERA (Rock Crawlers)

DERMAPTERA (Earwigs) - Earwig Research Centre has been suggested; there is also Dermaptera Species File

MANTODEA (Mantids) - Mantodea Species File

BLATTODEA (Cockroaches & Termites) - Blattodea Species File for cockroaches (it will include termites eventually, but doesn't yet); On-line Termite Database for termites.

ZORAPTERA (Zorapterans) - The Zoraptera Database

PSOCODEA (Barklice & Parasitic Lice) - Psocodea Species File does not include Phthiraptera (parasitic lice) yet, but intends to eventually.

Scale Insects: scalenet looks like a great resource.
Aphids: I propose following Aphid Species File.
Psyllids:, while not complete, may be the best reference for this group.
Leafhoppers: this USDA checklist is useful in figuring out which subgenus a species belongs in.
Coreoidea Species File
Pentatomoidea Home Page maintained by Dr. David Rider
Miridae: On-line Systematic Catalog of Plant Bugs

THYSANOPTERA (Thrips) - Thrips of the World Checklist

NEUROPTERIDA (Megaloptera, Rhaphidioptera, Neuroptera)
"Species catalog of the Neuroptera, Megaloptera, and Raphidioptera of America North of Mexico" (1), published in 1997, is comprehensive for our area.
J.D. Oswald's "Neuropterida Species of the World" catalogue is more up-to-date. So the latter should presumably be what we use to verify the current name of a taxon, but the former is a useful reference for other purposes.

COLEOPTERA (Beetles) - The American Beetles books (2),(3) are our standard (down to genus level). ITIS is up-to-date for many groups, but is missing some big ones. Also see Synopsis of the Described Coleoptera of the World.
Tree of Life seems to have all the subfamilies, tribes, subtribes, genera, and subgenera of Staphylinidae (there's also the catalog at, and may be useful in sorting out other higher beetle taxa.
Buprestidae: The World of Jewel Beetles
Cerambycidae: Checklist of the Oxypeltidae, Vesperidae, Disteniidae and Cerambycidae, (Coleoptera) of the Western Hemisphere
Carabidae: Catalogue of Geadephaga (Coleoptera: Adephaga) of America, north of Mexico [see discussion below the dead link]

HYMENOPTERA (Ants, Bees, Wasps, Sawflies)
The Hymenoptera Name Server seems to be a good default, but there are better references for certain groups (also see Hymenoptera Online Database):
Symphyta (Electronic World Catalog of Symphyta) [discussion]
Ichneumonidae (Classification and Systematics of the Ichneumonidae, list maintained by David Wahl) [discussion]
Cynipidae is not included in Hymenoptera Name Server and is incomplete on ITIS. I have been using a combination of Nomina Nearctica and this page at Discover Life, which seems to be taken from the 1979 Hymenoptera Catalog.
Ampulicidae, Sphecidae, and Crabronidae - Catalogue of the Sphecidae sensu lato
Bees - Discover Life

TRICHOPTERA - What do people think about using the Trichoptera World Checklist?

Butterflies (Interactive Listing of American Butterflies at [discussion]
The Nymphalidae Systematics Group
Moths: We now follow Moth Photographers Group, which is updated constantly. There is a species list here, and a "taxonomic notes" page here that summarizes changes to the Hodges list. We had been using All-Leps as our reference, and while it is very useful for looking up synonyms, it is apparently never updated, nor was it complete or accurate to begin with. (Some discussion of All-Leps here.) (11/2009 edit: at least the family structure of All-Leps has now been updated to some extent.)
Global Taxonomic Database of Gracillariidae
Revised Checklist of Gelechiidae in America north of Mexico
Online World Catalogue of the Tortricidae
Noctuoidea: Lafontaine & Schmidt 2010

MECOPTERA (Scorpionflies etc.) - World Checklist of Extant Mecoptera Species (last update 1997, at least in some cases)

DIPTERA (Flies) - The Diptera Site is the most accurate and up-to-date resource for the order as a whole. There are also some taxon-specific sites:
Sciaroidea (see note)
Mydidae & Apioceridae
For Cecidomyiidae, the Gagné & Jaschhof World Catalog is the best reference.

STREPSIPTERA (Twisted-winged Parasites) - One possibility is using the list in Kathirithamby and Taylor (2005), but see discussion here.


DIPLURA, PROTURA (rarely encountered non-insect hexapods)


CHILOPODA (Centipedes) - Chilobase has been suggested.

DIPLOPODA (Millipedes) - How about this World Checklist of Millipede Groups?

SYMPHYLA, PAUROPODA (other myriapods)

An updated classification of the recent Crustacea (2001) can be checked for higher taxonomy.
For isopods, World List of Marine, Freshwater and Terrestrial Isopod Crustaceans may be our best bet; Checklist of the terrestrial isopods of the New World (1999) is another resource to check.
For crayfish: The Crayfish & Lobster Taxonomy Browser

Illustrated key to North American Ants
Some of the links under Hymenoptera are broken.

Consider adding this online, easy-to-use, illustrated key to North American ants: which contains links to to the genera & species. Maybe this is not what Charley intended for this article. I believe he wanted sources that have a direct bearing on the taxonomic classification used by BugGuide. I suppose Antwiki is up to date.

I'll update those links (and Graham's) when I get a chance
As for the key, that's something that should definitely be on the Formicidae guide page if it isn't already, but it's beyond the scope of what this article is intended to cover. Really the information about what taxonomic references we're following should all be on the guide pages too, but it doesn't hurt to have some redundancy.


Some updates
Thanks for making this list, Charley! Some updates:

-North American Odonata appears to now be the World Odonata List, hosted both on the UPS website (here) and Odonata Central (here). Linking to Odonata Central is probably preferred since the authors say that list will be updated more frequently and will have more features going forward.

-The termite database is now here

-Zoraptera database may have been discontinued. The link is broken and I don't see it online elsewhere. There is a Zoraptera Species File here that could be substituted.

-Scalenet link is now and also has a DOI for a database overview:

-Oswald's Neuropterida of the World seems to be offline. Will try to find out from him if there is still a version somewhere online. Update: found one at, but it's not the full dataset.

This may seem trite
but I think it's true. Remember that BugGuide itself has become something of THE reference for many groups now. This is perhaps somewhat inevitable, as it has progressed into being one of the largest databases for North American Hexapods.

This discussion is a good example of why.


Please update link for "Carabidae" / "Caraboidea" = "Geadephaga"
to It replaces the broken link above that might have been associated with the old 1993 edition of the catalogue.

I wonder if BugGuide's own discussion of a book/reference
should be the first cited link in Charley's handy list rather than the link directly to the PDF? The BugGuide discussion page of course ought to be skipped if no direct link to the reference is provided (unlikely) in that discussion. In the example of "Carabidae" above, there is a book page discussion AND an active link to the PDF. If one was only directed to the PDF, one would miss the valuable book discussion at Such an approach would mean more work for Charley to check out the discussion pages, but there might not be many of them after all. Update: I see now that Charley did follow my recommendation. Nice!

One suggestion I've also made on iNaturalist.
I primarily focus on bees and wasps, so am familiar with many of their sources. As general advice for any taxon changes, it's good to know and use authoritative sources such as the ones listed. However since taxonomy undergoes frequent revisions which are often piecemeal, in cases where such revisions are valid to reflect on here, some online databases may have a delay time before updating to include the most recent changes (despite that databases may be largely or most complete overall taxonomically vs. other sources). It may be necessary to consult/cite academic revisions, keys, or genetic analysis studies too.

In summary, there is a need to consult multiple databases and contemporary literature when considering making any taxon change, even just as part of verifying the authoritative source primarily consulted is up to date. Conversely, many taxon changes shouldn't be made simply by referring to a "checklist" of changes in some one database/source. It's more accurate and thorough to use the longer method, which also requires learning/reviewing some info. about the taxa involved, which helps avoid general mistakes.

That's what we've generally been doing on BugGuide; this list is just a starting point. Yours is the first comment on this thread in seven years (and I haven't updated the list in eight). I think for the most part editors have been putting the relevant taxonomic references on guide pages, at least in cases where they deviate from the default sources. If you see any cases where these are missing, please add them.

Yes, I didn't mean BG as a whole or specific editors only use
single authoritative sources instead of checking multiple sources which include recent literature. But, I have reason to think this may/will sometimes happen. I've raised the same suggestion on iNaturalist (some iNat curators are also BG editors, and iNat's approach to taxonomy is partially based on BG's - as indicated in an old BG forum post). At times some iNat curators have deferred mostly to authoritative sources/databases when making taxon changes.

For another example when I've requested a taxon change on iNat based on a large consensus revision (publication), and responding curators initially said they only "use" some one database where the change wasn't reflected. But, they did see my point after I explained we need to consider the publications too. So, my overall point here is a general reminder (for any who need it or might not have realized it), but I'm not implying any specific people or the content of this page are suggesting otherwise/don't already know this.

Fixed Species File projects link
The "Species File" link in the original post has changed. The correct link is here: Current Species File databases.

Current taxa with Species File Software databases are:


ref. entries for this batch:
Aphids(1) Blattodea(2) Coreoidea(3) Dermaptera(4) Embioptera(5) Mantodea(6) Orthoptera(7) Phasmida(8) Plecoptera(9) Psocodea(10)
Coleorrhyncha not represented in the northern hemisphere

some Coleoptera and Diplopoda databases
I can't vouch for the authority or up-to-datedness of these (and some conflict, as is often the case among international authorities), but these are some good places to start.

Coleoptera: Synopsis of the Described Coleoptera of the World. A bare-bones but impressive listing. Some families still in progress, see comments by v belov.
Buprestidae: The World of Jewel Beetles, CL Bellamy
Carabidae: (global focus) and (Palearctic focus).
Cerambycidae: Lamiinae, Prioninae

Diplopoda (millipedes): Milli-PEET: Millipede Taxonomy and Complete genus listing

most are already in BG ref section:(1)(2)(3)(4); i'll consider adding the prionine site.
however, not every resource should be included in this forum article; for example, Bousquet 2012(5) and Bezark & Monné 2013(6) are up-to-date sources that meet our needs as standard refs for bycid & carabid taxonomy, respectively.
BG also has Books/Links entries for dozens of other emerging resources treating major arthropod taxa that may be considered as candidates here.

Source to consider (1)

See discussion here

Edit: From an email with Peter Kerr...
"Yes, good idea, I support this too. The site applies to fungus gnats of the superfamily Sciaroidea, and includes extant families Mycetophilidae, Lygistorrhinidae, Diadocidiidae, Rangomaramidae, Ditomyiidae, Bolitophilidae, and Keroplatidae. The superfamily also includes Cecidomyiidae and Sciaridae. Cecidomyiidae is not featured on this site at all (these are midges). Sciaridae appears, but I'm not sure how detailed the associated information is. The site was created and is now led by Vladimir Blagoderov at the NHM, London, and updated and managed by him and the rest of the 'plugged' sciaroid research community."

ECatSym has moved

And again...

Crustacea: Sources to consider

Ephemeroptera Galactica
The most comprehensive literature database on all things mayfly (and then some). Has an alphabetized list of published, peer reviewed articles, most of them available as pdf files. Continually updated by M. Hubbard. Fantastic site.

Semi-updated Plecoptera checklist
Stark, Baumann, and DeWalt have a rather more recent stonefly checklist than the previous "North American Stonefly list" dated from 1998. It is the Plecoptera of North America page at It contains the Valid Names for North America Species up through 3/10/2009 and their associated state distributions (I am not sure an update is expected).

Stark et al. do link to the Plecoptera Species File from this page as well.

was added as a link entry earlier this year(1)

Neuroptera- a pair of sources
The first is old (1997), but comprehensive for our area:
Species Catalog of the Neuroptera, Megaloptera, and Raphidioptera of the United States North of Mexico, Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, ser.4, v.50., pp.39-114

The second is as up-to-date as you can get, but its world-wide scope leaves some things kind of vague for our area (1).

Perhaps we can use some combination of the two, with Dr. Oswald's comments on the images as the final word.

thanks, Chuck
Species catalog added(1)

Placing -
a link to this very important resource in the Editor's Forum, which is where I keep looking for it.

bee mites link

For anyone who gets confused with words like I do :)
I found a glossary with some common terms found in keys. I thought it was handy because I get confused with all these words like "rugrose". Why can't we just say wrinkly?!?! :-P

It only has a few terms, many are missing, but its a good start.

glossary right here
BugGuide has an extensive glossary, and we have a decent entry for rugose. Usually a search will reveal the term if it is in the glossary, but there is no way to search only the glossary. If you restrict a search to guide pages, that will usually turn up a glossary entry.
Also, you can see all glossary terms by going to the glossary index, click on "taxonomy" tab, and then "view all"--here they are.

'rug rose'
you mean, 'rugose', i guess...
yes, it's a long esoteric tradition to use nice magic adjectives (magictives?) like alutaceous, glabrous, testaceous, crenulated, subpectinate, etc. -- perhaps because naturalists grew too used to the elaborate Latin (scientific lingua franca of those days) used universally for describing living things that they felt uncomfortable looking for English equivalents: one is never sure that the meaning is fully rendered by a word of another tongue

Haha yes, I mean rugose.
Way to point out my typo and make me feel bad! :-P

I understand why we must use these words, I just get confused :)

i know i'm the nasty one; we all have to live with that, i'm afraid :)

love your proprietary 'rugrose' version, though -- the 'rugged' connotation is appropriate, too. yes, that vocabulary may be indeed very confusing at first, but look at the bright side: learning it will make great many scientific names make sense to you [rather than look like hieroglyphs] -- which, in turn, will make you feel better and more at home in the world of the zoo/bot. nomenclature.
here's a fresh example:
Bruce lists the options as indigoptera, quercata, saltator, scalaris, spilonota; based on the names alone, one can reasonably rule out the first (=bright-blue elytra) and probably the fourth (=ladder-like [pattern]); now, the remaining three cannot be excluded: #2 refers to oaks (perhaps an accidental ass'n, and such names are often misleading anyway); #3 means simply 'jumper'; and #5 refers to blotched/stained pronotum, which more or less fits the specimen. Nowadays taxonomists are often quite clueless about the dead languages and the names they give to new taxa tend to be less descriptive; epithets like hernandezae, eisemani or floridensis are of limited use if you're desperate to narrow down ID options from a faunal checklist :)))

Do they make a rosetta stone in Latin?
I'd so buy it if I had the money, Spanish too :-P Need to refresh my Spanish skills. Perhaps I will take Latin when I return to college.

take Latin?
if you have a gusto for languages and intricate grammar, go for it -- but unless you fancy writing your disser in Latin or reading ancient authors, medieval treatises, or papal bullae, i'd say, refreshing your Spanish would be time better spent -- all the more so that it will provide important insights into the Latin, too, esp. if you read a lot of Borges (which i hope you will).
The English is unique in having the unrivaled, humongous vocabulary that had absorbed, among other things, a complete set of Romance roots; therefore, a Merriam-Webster or AmHeritage D. would provide clues to most sci. names and will get you by just fine -- but keeping Latin & Greek dictionaries handy is even better [and fun], although you sure will find plenty online (typing Greek into the Search box being a minor inconvenience).

I just noticed this...
and its awesome. Wanted to add the National History Museum's database of the world's lepidopteran hostplants - HOSTS. Its not 100% complete obviously, but it does come in handy.

plant bugs (Miridae)
On-line Systematic Catalog of Plant Bugs is the most advanced source for plant bugs.

Not sure if these pages are kept taxonomically current, but Jeff Skevington has created a nice section on Big-headed Flies at Tree of Life:

Change the link for the Diptera Site to and it should work - the SEL no longer hosts the database. This is the most accurate and up-to-date of the various online resources, but there is no option to search by biogeographic region yet so it can be difficult to compile Nearctic species counts/lists for widespread genera.

A couple of other family-level resources are:
Bombyliidae -
Sphaeroceridae -

I am unable to connect to, seems to be no longer available. I was looking for Anthomyiidae and found several at Any opinion on using that as a source?

It seems the database is being hosted by SEL again - try here. I'm not sure if this is a permanent change or not. is a good site, but most of the contributors and images are from Europe. It can be useful to some extent, but a lot of our fauna is different from what you would find over there.

A few more...

I just googled "Lepidoptera Species File," just for the heck of it, and there is in fact such a thing, but you need a password to get in. Clearly still under development, but it looks like someday this can be our definitive source, if it's anything like the other "species file" websites.

LEPIDOPTERA - Nymphalidae
The Nymphalidae Systematics Group is currently the authority and clearinghouse for information relating to the Nymaphaloid Butterflies, and the classification of the subfamilies, tribes, subtribes, and in some cases genera has evolved according to a number of systematics studies that have been published mostly within the last 15 years or so (mostly involving molecular comparisons of nucleic acids - or - "molecular phylogeny"). The current version of the classification used there, outlined by Niklas Wahlberg, is posted here.

The Pelham Catalog predates some of this, and the Butterflies of America site (which initially followed the Pelham Catalog closely) has tended to move in the same direction, but a little more conservatively. The classification used there does not always reflect all of the phylogeny related updates that have been made. Generally I think that most who study the Nymphalidae agree with the classification put forth by Wahlberg et. al, and of the changes put forth generally make good sense. In a few cases here on BugGuide I have referenced the Wahlberg Classification as apposed to the BOA treatment, although generally they are the same.

NOTE: The Pehlam Catalog has been updated and the 2011 version is now available for viewing on line.

And more...
A pdf-format free article:
Journal of Arachnology v.34,n.2,pp.299: "An annotated checklist of continental North American Solifugae with type depositories, abundance, and notes on their biogeography", by Jack O. Brookhart & Irene P. Brookhart

An Australian site that provides country-specific lists in addition to the world-wide information: Pseudoscorpions of the World

Kari's Scorpion Pages by our very own Kari McWest. If you scroll past the personal stuff on this webiste, you find links to his pages containing information on all of the known scorpion species in the US (one species of which is also the only species known in Canada)

I should mention that there's a vehement disagreement/war of words among scorpion taxonomists about revisions of the order published in the past half-decade or so: I'll include a website based on the alternate taxonomic arrangement to the one Kari subscribes to, just for balance (though the website itself doesn't take sides in the controversy): The Scorpion Files

Class Arachnida in North America (north of Mexico)

As you may have noticed elsewhere in the Taxonomy forum, I found an article containing a checklist of all North American Strepsipterans: Zootaxa 1056, pp.1-18 (2005). (PDF Format). The jury's still out on that one, though.

The Scorpion Files would seem like the logical source to use, if it weren't for the fact that Kari is single-handedly responsible for managing our scorpion pages (as far as I know). I've got both links up there for now.

EPT (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera)
The Mayfly Central species list (contained in the section "Mayflies of North America" referenced by Chuck Entz below) is probably the most useful and up-to-date choice for mayflies. Some workers would probably argue the basis or level of acceptance for a few of the recent revisions (especially at the generic level), but that is an inherent problem with most any list used as a "standard"--they are necessarily fluid, and regularly updated lists can contain some element of controversy (especially with orders that are being revised as rapidly as the EPT).

I would think that such controversies could be addressed in comments on specimens or on info pages, and the value of having a standard to provide some consistency usually outweighs the related problems. (Though reliance on a problematic list like Nearctica Nomina is something of an exception to that statement, and I'm personally glad to see BG's reliance on that list decline.)

Using the Trichoptera World Checklist for caddisflies seems like a good choice to me, but I would happily defer to Dave Ruiter's opinion on that matter. (Dave regularly offers IDs in the caddisfly section and is a worker in that field.)

Regarding the Plecoptera, the list used by most North American workers seems to be the North American Stonefly list. It also includes state/province distribution info. It is worth noting that it was last updated in 1998, and nominating authors' names are not followed by dates. However, both issues are fairly minor and could be addressed on BG info pages (though most of these pages in the EPT sections are largely empty at this point).

another source worth consideration is(1) -- dunno how it compares with those mentioned above, but looks very authoritative to me

quite surprising...
...that the North American Stonefly list, an apparently sound source, lists genera w/o authors, which is unorthodox.

Lloyd -- out of pure curiosity: any hints on the provenance of the name of Bolshecapnia Ricker? sounds weird & funny...

Plecoptera etc.
I just discovered Plecoptera Species File (see master list above), which includes authors, synonymies, the works. It is also more current and is actively being updated.

I've added several other "species file" sites to the list above. I also took the liberty of changing Phasmatodea to Phasmida, because the latter is used by both of the sites that cover this group and precedes the former in usage by about a century.

Not sure, =v=...
Ricker displayed a sense of humor in some of his name selections and also used Russian from time to time. You'd know better than I would, but doesn't the prefix mean something like "larger" or "greater"?

"larger" or "greater"
exactly, Lloyd -- thanks! it's always a great pleasure to encounter puns and pranks of taxonomist punks. Chemical or mineralogical nomenclature provide no much opportunity for these -- we must enjoy our outdated system while it lasts. Ricker definitely had fun.

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