Lepidoptera research

Lepidoptera are a large and often beautiful group of insects that comprise the butterflies and moths. There are over 157,000 known species across the world, with the highest concentration in the tropics.  

We are focusing our research on the taxonomy, phylogeny, zoogeography and evolution of:

  • snout moths (subfamily Phycitinae)
  • swift moths (Hepialoidea)
  • hawkmoths (Sphingidae)
  • cutworm moths (Noctuoidea)

We are also developing digital 3D image software to study the small-scale structure (morphology) of these insects. 

  • A snout moth
    Evolution of Phycitinae

    With over 5000 described species, Phycitinae is the largest subfamily within Pyralidae, or snout moths.

  • Abantiades latipennis, or pindi moth
    Evolution of Hepialoidea

    The superfamily Hepialoidea or swift moths, have a number of intriguing morphological, ecological and behavioural features.

  • A Privet Hawkmoth
    Sphingidae research

    Our hawkmoth research aims to develop our understanding of this attractive family.

  • A noctuoid moth
    Noctuoid Moths

    Learn how Museum staff are resolving the classification of this large superfamily.

  • A close-up image of an Aglais urticae or common tortoiseshell butterfly
    3D imaging

    Microtomography uses X-rays to create a detailed 3D image of a specimen without destroying it.

Research entomologists

Ian Kitching
Dr Ian Kitching

Research entomologist specialising in Sphingidae or hawkmoths.

Dr Thomas Simonsen
Dr Thomas Simonsen

Research entomologist specialising in Lepidoptera systematics.