The table below contains a list of the currently recognised superfamilies of Lepidoptera and gives the approximate number of valid species in each (based on information from Kristensen, 1999). Superfamilies in red are those where all records from the NHM card index are now available in LepIndex. The numbers in brackets denote the total number of names there are in LepIndex for a superfamily.
LepIndex contains a total of 27,577 records for these seven superfamilies (hereafter termed pyraloid moths). The NHM pyraloid card index has been maintained since 1958 by Michael Shaffer (now a Scientific Associate of the Entomology Department and still actively working on the index in his retirement) and it is regarded as an invaluable resource by other workers on pyraloid moths, since it is the nearest thing there currently is to a systematic catalogue of world pyraloid names. The pyraloid index is the only major part of the NHM Lepidoptera card index which has been actively maintained since the Indexing Section was disbanded in 1981. Thus unlike much of the rest of the card index, the current valid name combinations are usually up-to-date (in most of the rest of the index the current name combinations are those used in the NHM collection and many are decidedly archaic). Please note, however, that Michael Shaffer has not yet had time to include taxonomic changes proposed in many recent scientific papers or in the following important regional checklists: Heppner (1995) and Nielsen, Edwards & Rangsi (1996).
The pyraloid index contains much important unpublished data (including many unpublished name combinations, synonymies and even new subfamily placements) and such changes are usually noted by Michael Shaffer in pencil on the index cards (eg see the card image for bibarra Chu & Wang, 1991). If you wish to cite any unpublished information from LepIndex then please see How to cite LepIndex.
Most of the pyraloid records in LepIndex currently only have data entered into the eight fields listed at the top of this page, but in the case of the 1,211 records for the Thyridoidea minus the Charideinae, all the information on the cards has been entered into the LepIndex VIADOCS database (although not all of it has been carefully checked yet). Information on the location of specimens in the NHM collection is given for all pyraloid genus name records, plus all taxa in the Thyridoidea minus the Charideinae (see the Location tab).
In February 2003 Michael Shaffer checked and updated the subfamily placements in the LepIndex VIADOCS database, of valid genera which had been classified in the NHM card index as Nymphulinae or Pyraustinae.
Images of the index cards for these seven superfamilies (127,049 in total) were made available in LepIndex in October 2003. Please note that the taxonomic arrangement of these families in the card index (and hence LepIndex) is generally very out of date. The taxonomy will be updated in the future, and when it has been an announcement will be made on this page.
The card index to the Geometridae was used as the basis for a catalogue of names to this large family (Scoble, 1999). Given that many changes and additions to geometrid moth classification that have occurred since the card index was compiled, information on the cards by no means always matches that in the catalogue. Yet although the catalogue is the most up to date published version of Geometridae taxonomy, we believe that there remains great value in having so much original source data made available in LepIndex. Furthermore, in the catalogue only the original reference is given for any given name, whereas the cards often provide subsequent references, and other notes, thus providing information additional to the catalogue. LepIndex also includes unavailable infrasubspecific names (aberrations, forms etc), while the printed catalogue does not.
Note that Poole's (1989) catalogue of world Noctuidae was based on the Museum's Noctuidae index cards.
In December 2003, George Beccaloni checked the 12,221 genus-group name records in LepIndex for the superfamilies Acanthopteroctetoidea, Agathiphagoidea, Bombycoidea, Cossoidea, Geometroidea, Hedyloidea and Noctuoidea, against the corresponding records in Pitkin & Jenkins' Generic Names database and corrected the data in LepIndex where necessary (largely dates of publication and the spelling of author names). Importantly, George also used Pitkin & Jenkins database to update the higher classification of all the taxa in these superfamilies, so that it now largely follows the higher classification proposed in Kristensen (1999).
Images of the index cards for these two superfamilies (68,872 in total) were made available on LepIndex in February 2004. In February 2005 the 3,101 genus-group names in these superfamilies were compared against the corresponding records in Pitkin & Jenkins' Generic Names database and the spellings of these names, the author names and the years of publication were corrected where necessary. The higher classification of all taxa in these superfamilies was also updated using Pitkin & Jenkins' database, so that the classification now largely follows that proposed by Lamas et al. (submitted).
Images of the index cards for these thirty superfamilies (66,904 records in total) were made available on LepIndex in October 2004. In February 2005 the 7,101 genus-group names in these superfamilies were compared against the corresponding records in Pitkin & Jenkins' Generic Names database and the spellings of these names, the author names and the years of publication were corrected where necessary. The higher classification of all taxa in these superfamilies was also updated using Pitkin & Jenkins' database, so that the classification now largely follows that proposed in Kristensen (1999).
In February 2005 the status (= availability) of all junior Lepidoptera genus-group names (e.g. junior subjective synonyms, junior homonyms etc) was entered into LepIndex from Pitkin & Jenkins' database.
During 2011, all data missing from fields of the VIADOCS database which relate to the current valid scientific name of a taxon, were filled in using information from the index card images or the literature. The completion of this work marks a major advance for the project, as it will enable the data from LepIndex to be moved from its current ‘bespoke’ VIADOCS database, to other more ‘generic’ taxonomic databases. A number of corrections were also made to the taxonomy, including all those that users had kindly informed us of since 2005.
In October 2011, the new version of the database was uploaded onto the LepIndex website and in December 2011 the data were supplied to Species2000.