The Global Lepidoptera Names Index

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How to use LepIndex




This page provides information on how to search for, interpret, and edit records in LepIndex. For detailed information about the Viadocs Nomenclatural database and the current coverage of LepIndex, please read the introductory pages listed on the home page. For information about how to decipher information on the index card images please see About the index cards.


Important notes

  • Data in the LepIndex Viadocs database supercedes information written on the cards unless it is suffixed with an @. The presence of this symbol indicates that the data have not yet been validated by NHM staff (in most cases such data are the results of Optical Character Recognition).
  • In the case of most records in LepIndex, only a small proportion of fields contain values at present and this may give rise to apparently spurious data, especially for references and name combinations (because several fields are concatenated).
  • On both the index cards and in the LepIndex Viadocs database, genus-group names are always written in UPPERCASE, and species-group and infrasubspecific names in lowercase.
  • The current valid names given in LepIndex are largely those used in the NHM collection and, if so, they are often not up to date. When the subjective synonymy of a group has been updated in LepIndex this will be noted in Current coverage of LepIndex.

Searching the database

Data may be accessed via three search modes:

In all search modes, if your query returns more than one match the system will list all matches - click on a Taxon name to view the full record. Note that if you hold your cursor over a taxon name on the search results page, a box will pop up which lists the taxon's current classification (superfamily, family, subfamily, tribe) plus the genus the taxon was placed in when it was first described (ie its original genus). If only one match is found the system will display the full record automatically.

Please note: the Taxon name search is for single names only. For example, to locate Dysodia vitrina flammata Warren, 1904 you should enter flammata only.


Full Record pages

On the full record page, the upper section contains an image of the index card for the taxon in question (if one is present in the NHM archive), the original and currently accepted name combinations (plus, occasionally, an unpublished name combination), and the taxon's higher classification. The card may be enlarged or the back of it viewed by clicking the appropriate buttons to its left.

The drop-down menu at the top right of the page displays the name of taxon you are viewing, and lists all the taxa which belong to the genus of the taxon being viewed. The current valid genus name is given at the top of the list and valid species names are listed alphabetically below it. Any valid subspecies names are listed alphabetically under the species they belong to. Names that are nomenclaturally unavailable (eg junior homonyms, junior objective synonyms), or names that are not in use (eg junior subjective synonyms), are listed alphabetically below the valid name of the taxon they refer to. Select a taxon name to view its full record.

  • Valid subspecies names are indented to the right
  • If a taxon name is preceded by an asterisk (*), it is not a valid name.
  • If a taxon name is preceded by an exclamation mark (!), its current status (ie its availability) is not yet recorded in the database.

The lower section of a full record page can display various data about the taxon and/or name (see table below). Click the appropriate tab to display the data you require. If you are a registered user and have logged in, then these tabs will include links allowing you to submit and correct data.

Name Combs

The Original publication details section on the top half of this tab displays the following information: the current status of the scientific name (ie its availability); the rank of the name (eg genus, species, subspecies) when it was first published (termed 'original rank'); the current rank of the name; the original published combination of the name; and the reference in which the name was first published. The number of the page on which the name was published and details of any illustrations of the taxon in the original description are given in brackets after this reference.

The Current valid name section on the bottom half of the tab displays the currently accepted valid name of the taxon. If this name combination differs from the original combination of the name (eg because the rank of the name has since changed, the name is invalid, or the taxon has been transferred to another genus) then the reference in which the changes were published is given. Please note that fi the species name is missing from the database, it will be replaced by an exclamation mark (eg for 'THYRIS ! infuscata Issekutz, 1953', the '!' indicates that the species name is missing)."

Old Combs

This tab lists any published changes to the rank, status or combination of the name since its original description, excluding information relating to the currently accepted valid name (thus this tab details the name's taxonomic history). References are given for listed changes.

MS Comb.

This tab details any unpublished change(s) to the rank, status or combination of the name and gives the name of the person who proposed the change(s) and the date he/she proposed the change(s).

Type Sp.

Gives details about the type species of genus-group names plus the reference in which the type species designation was made.


Displays information about the designation of lectotypes or neotypes of species-group taxa and the reference in which the designation was made.


Gives information about the type specimens of species-group taxa.

More Refs

Lists one or more references which give additional information about the taxon (e.g. host-plant information, descriptions of early stages etc).


Displays information about the geographical distribution of the taxon (by zoogeographic region, country and occasionally areas within countries).


Gives details about the location of specimens of the taxon in the NHM collection.


Scientific name search


Enter any SINGLE genus-group, species-group OR infrasubspecific name either in full or in part to return a list of all matching names. Output is returned in batches of 30 records.

For example, to locate Dysodia vitrina flammata Warren, 1904 you should enter flammata only.


Drill-down search and synonymic list generator


This allows you to list all the taxa in a particular group, either alphabetically or as a synonymic list. The Load buttons allow you to continue to drill down through the taxonomic hierarchy.

The Search or Synonymic List buttons may be clicked at any point, and will operate on the lowest-ranked taxonomic group currently selected. The Search button outputs taxa sorted alphabetically. The Synonymic List button outputs a synonymic list of all the taxa in a particular taxonomic group, which can be copied and pasted into a word processor document or other file.

Start by selecting a superfamily.

To list all members of the selected superfamily, click Search or Synonymic List

If, however, you wish to select a family, click the adjacent Load button, and wait while the page reloads. The Families menu will then display families belonging to the selected superfamily.

After selecting a family, you may click Search or Synonymic List to list members of that family, or the next Load button to display subfamilies, and so on to tribes and genera.

Synonymic list format

Valid names are shown in bold and other names (i.e. those which are nomenclaturally unavailable, not currently in use, or for which status information is currently absent from the database) are displayed in normal type. The status (i.e. the availability) of the name is given in square brackets after the name record. For species-group names, the name of the genus in which the name was originally described is given in brackets after the name (if this information is recorded in the database). Names on the list are arranged first, alphabetically by genus; second, alphabetically within each genus by species; and third, alphabetically within each species by subspecies. Names that are nomenclaturally unavailable or not currently in use are arranged alphabetically by scientific name following the valid name currently being used for the taxon in question.

Advanced search

Fill in any or all of the available fields either in full or in part, then click Search to return a list of taxa which match ALL of your entered criteria.

Please note: the Taxon name search is for SINGLE NAMES ONLY. For example, to locate Dysodia vitrina flammata Warren, 1904 you should enter flammata only.