Butterflies and Moths of the World



Genus-group names

Genus-group names are arranged alphabetically within the catalogue by author, date of publication and page. The catalogue may be searched by genus, author, date of publication or family.

A semicolon following a genus-group name indicates that the name was used but not originally described by the cited author or authors. Such names were either used in a different sense or misspelt.

Rather than preceding unavailable names with a double dagger, as in the Generic Names of Moths of the World, we have used a Status field (see below). However, unavailable names cited in the Notes fields are preceded by an asterisk, rather than a double dagger.

Currently 31,147 genus-group names are included in the catalogue, of which 24,009 are available names (or objective replacement names).

Authors' names

Authors' names in scripts other than roman are quoted in their English equivalent.

Diacritic marks have only been used for the western European character set, because of limitations of the software used. We apologise to all lepidopterists if the spelling of their name, as a consequence of this limitation, is incorrect and causes offence.

We have not enclosed any author's name in square brackets to indicate that it was determined from external sources.

The authors and publication dates of genus-group names, type-species and type designations were sometimes cited inconsistently in different volumes of the source material with respect to the same publication. We have tried to be consistent.

The authors of two names, Heterophyes and Kurtomesis, are currently unknown to us. We have cited the author as 'Unknown'.

The bibliography currently includes 6,156 references by 1,282 different authors or author combinations.

Publication dates

Dates of publication follow the dates used in the source material. However, in order to sort genus-group names by author and year of publication, it has been necessary to depart from the standard practice of enclosing date of publication in square brackets if this is different from the date printed on the cover or title page. Instead, only the actual year of publication is given, without brackets.

The year of publication of only 123 names is currently unknown to us. We have left the year blank for the present.

The catalogue currently includes 31,147 genus-group names dating from 1758 to 2003.


Titles of journals have been abbreviated following The World List of Scientific Periodicals (Edn 4) or, if not included therein, according to the methods used in that edition. Nouns always start with a capital letter and adjectives with a small letter, unless it is customary in the country of origin of the journal for the word to begin with a capital, for example, Bull. mens. Soc. linn. Lyon but J. Proc. Linn. Soc. Similarly, Annls Mus. r. Hist. nat. belg. but Proc. R. ent. Soc. Lond. Abbreviations are followed by a full stop but contractions are not - for example, Coll. for College, but Colln for Collection; Stettin. for Stettiner, but Stettin for Stettin itself; univl. for universalis, but univl for universal. One other irritation, J. is for Journal, except in those references in which it is followed by a one letter abbreviation; it is then cited in the World List as Jl - for example, Jl N.Y. ent. Soc.

Titles of books and other works have been abbreviated as though they were journals, using the Select List of Abbreviations Used in volume 3 of the World List.

Apart from the 115 names where no published reference has been found, only 38 names currently lack an abbreviated publication. In these cases we have left the publication field blank.

Where known to us the full titles of serials, books and other works are given in the bibliography and The Natural History Museum's shelf mark is quoted in the bibliography if the work is represented in the extensive NHM library collections.

The bibliography currently comprises 6,155 references by 1,281 different authors or author combinations.


The taxonomic status of all genus-group names is given. If the status field is cited as an available or objective or subjective replacement name, the name is available; otherwise it is unavailable and cannot be used as a valid genus-group name. Available names are not necessarily in current usage, they may be subjective synonyms of other names.

If a genus-group name is based on a fossil, we have appended '(FOSSIL)' to its status.


It is inevitable that with 24,009 available and objective replacement genus-group names, there have been occasions when two (or more) authors have used the same genus-group name for two (or more) different concepts. In addition, there are a few hundred cases where the same genus-group name has been described by the same author on two (or more) occasions for the same concept. In such cases it is generally the earliest name that takes priority, the subsequent name (or names) being regarded as a junior homonym (or homonyms). However, in the interests of stability, some earlier genus-group names have been supressed by the International Commission for Zoological Nomenclature in favour of the more widely used genus-group name.

The number of homonyms is cited to assist the user when searching or browsing while only a single record is visible on screen.

Family and subfamily names

Family (and subfamily) names are given. These follow the source material listed above, updated as far as possible from Kristensen (ed.) (1999) for the Heterocera (except Gelechioidea) and Lamas et al. (in press) for the Rhopalocera. Where a family or subfamily name is treated differently by Kristensen (loc. cit.) from earlier authors, we have treated all the constituent species as belonging to that family or subfamily. We have also assumed that if two genus-group names are regarded as subjective synonyms, they are in the same family (and subfamily, where relevant). Owing to the radically different and contentious higher classification of the Gelechioidea proposed by Hodges, in Kristensen (1999) we have retained the classification used by Nye & Fletcher (1991) for this superfamily.

The catalogue currently includes 126 families and 250 subfamilies in 46 superfamiles. The higher classification used is summarised under Classification.

In cases where the superfamily or family are unknown to us, we have used the expression 'Superfamily unassigned' and 'Family unassigned' respectively. Only 17 genus-group names are currently unplaced in a superfamily or family.

In cases where subfamilies are used in the above sources, but the subfamily assignment of a genus-group name is unknown to us, we have used the expression 'Subfamily unassigned'. 4,961 genus-group names (4,022 of which are available names or objective replacement names) are currently unassigned to a subfamily in families where these are used, although 22,942 genus-group names (17,462 of which are available names or objective replacement names) are assigned to a subfamily.

Tribe and subtribe names

Tribe and subtribe names (where relevant and known) have now (July, 2003) been assigned to the genus-group names in the butterfly families Hesperiidae, Lycaenidae, Nymphalidae, Papilionidae, Pieridae and Riodinidae - following Lamas et al. (in press) and in collabration with Niklas Wahlberg and Gerardo Lamas (pers. comm.) - and the moth family Sphingidae - following Kitching & Cadiou (2001).

Where a subfamily is divided into tribes, but a genus-group name is unassigned to a tribe we have used the expression 'Tribe unassigned'; similarly where a tribe is divided into subtribes, but the genus-group name is unassigned to a subtribe we have used the expression 'Subtribe unassigned'.

For genus-group names included within a tribe or subtribe see the list of Tribes & Subtribes.


Apart from a few recent additions, every available or objective replacement genus-group name is linked with its type-species determined in accordance to The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (Edition 3; published in 1985). In cases where this information is missing, we welcome additions.

The type-species name, original genus, reference and additional comments on the type-species are given if included in the source material. Currently the type-species is given for 27,674 genus-group names in the catalogue.

Type-species designations

Apart from a few recent additions, the method of designation of every type-species is given. When this is by subsequent designation, the designating author and reference are given. Additional comments on the designation are included where relevant. In cases where this information is missing, we welcome additions.

Type specimens

Type specimen data, including type status, sex, country, locality and depository are given if included in the source material. Additional data for the Geometridae is taken from Parsons et al. (1999) and for other families from the card index of Lepidoptera names at the Natural History Museum. Type-data is given for 14,089 genus-group names which have type-species.

The use of the expression 'Type(s)' means the author did not indicate whether the description was based on one or more specimens. The use of the expression 'Syntypes' means the author did not designate one of the specimens in the original type series as the holotype.

If a lectotype has been designated for one of the specimens in the original type series, then a reference to that designation is usually included.

In cases where this information is missing, we welcome additions.

Country and locality names

Country and locality names are quoted from the original description, not from type specimens. Names of countries in their current English form are given additionally in square brackets when they differ from or are lacking in the original description. The Times Atlas of the World (Edn 2) has been used as a standard except for some names such as Zaire for what was formerly Belgian Congo, and Bangladesh for East Pakistan. In general, geographical names are used for islands and island groups. Place names are usually quoted unaltered from the original description unless they may be misleading out of context - for example, Wienergegend is cited as Vienna district. Added information is given in square brackets.


Where known to us, the type specimen depository is given. The type specimens for which the depository is known include 80 different collections and institutions around the world. In cases where this information is missing, we welcome additions.

Where no information is given it must not be assumed the type is not in The Natural History Museum (BMNH), or in any other museum or institution. Similarly, in the case of syntypes, when a depository is given, there may also be other syntypes in other collections.


When two genus-group names have the same type-species, they are regarded as objective synonyms. Generally the earlier name takes priority and is referred to as the senior objective synonym, although there are occasions when the earlier name has been suppressed by the International Commission for Zoological Nomenclature in the interests of stability. Where applicable, the senior objective synonym of all junior objective synonyms is given in this catalogue. Similarly, the junior objective synonym or synonyms of all senior objective synonyms are given.

When two or more genus-group names have different type-species which are considered as subjective synonyms of each other, the genus-group names are regarded as subjective synonyms. As with objective synonyms, it is generally the earlier name which takes priority.

No subjective synonymy was included in the source material listed above for the Rhopalocera, Pyraloidea or Microlepidoptera. Subjective synonymy of genus-group names in other groups is only included in the 'Senior name' and 'Junior name(s)' fields in this catalogue when:

a) one of the genus-group names is a junior homonym

b) no objective replacement name is available for the junior homonym

c) the genus-group names have type-species considered as subjective synonyms.

Additional subjective synonymy of the Noctuidae, following Poole (1989); of the Geometridae, following Parsons et al. (1999); of the Sphingidae, following Kitching & Cadiou (2000); and of the Tineidae following Robinson (2001), is given in the 'Notes' field and includes genus-group names whose type-species are considered to be congeneric but not synonymous.

Misspellings cited in the source material cited above are included in this catalogue and treated as junior synonyms. Numerous additional misspellings of genus-group names of Gelechiidae (pers. comm. K. Sattler) and Noctuidae (Poole, 1989) have also been included and similarly treated. All misspellings are clearly identified. A total of 6,541 junior synonyms are included.

Last updated 20-Feb-2004 Dr B R Pitkin