Neotropical Butterflies

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 Post subject: scientific names
PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:12 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:18 am
Posts: 186
Location: England
Hi all

On a few occassions one or two people have referred to butterflies using only the common name, which can cause a lot of confusion. Using the common names like "Rayed Longwing" is OK, but it would be helpful to many people if we always used the scientific names as well.

There are 2 good reasons for this - firstly the common names are not fully established and tend to be different in various books and on various websites; and secondly the taxonomy of neotropical butterflies is in a state of constant flux - species names get changed, species get moved into different genera, full species get relegated to subspecies etc.

It is important therefore to use a taxonomic name that is easily recognised by butterfly enthusiasts regardless of their language or country of origin; and to use the taxon name that is least likely to be changed.

The best approach ( as recommended to me by several taxonomists ) is to avoid confusion by wherever possible stating the full scientific name including the subspecies, as when the taxonomy gets revised it is often the case that a subspecies gets elevated to become a full species. Often another subspecies will also be elevated, so it is often possible that 2 entirely different taxa are known under the same species name. Obviously if you don't know the subspecies name it cannot be stated, so only the species name can be stated.


 Post subject: Re: scientific names
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:45 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2007 2:26 pm
Posts: 1508
Hi Adrian,

I agree that it's better to use the scientific name, but sometimes people don't know it, or they may only know some common name. The more time you spend with neotropical butterflies, or any area outside the US, the more familiar you will get w/the scientific names, especially talking to people who live in the neotropical countries, who usually only know the scientific names. So the sooner you learn, the better for you and the more you will understand the relationships w/in genera, etc. However, if you don't know the scientific names, don't be reluctant to put up your photos. We'll figure it out.

 Post subject: Re: scientific names
PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2011 4:42 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 6:05 am
Posts: 1163
Hola All: Unless a subspecies name has been elevated to a full species, all three names should be used if you know them. That is, genus followed by species followed by subspecies. I would hope that the scientific community would do this regularly,too. Saludos Ricardo

 Post subject: Re: scientific names
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:22 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:37 am
Posts: 109
Location: Suriname
Hello all,

As someone with plenty of experience with scientific names I would like to urge everybody to doublecheck the spelling of scientific names before posting them. I often see spelling errors (also some on this forum) which will lead to useless searches on the internet when looking for additional pictures and info. When a common word has a typo, a search engine like Google will correct it or suggest a different spelling. With scientific names this is not the case since they are rarely entered (more likely that a scientific name is 'corrected' into something you don't want).

Also, please place the scientific names of genera and species in italic. This is not only mandatory according to the ICZN but also facilitates reading texts.

Best regards,


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