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Trying to Understand Taxonomy with Lepidoptera

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Lepidoptera, butterflies and moths, has more than 260,000 species in 128 families and 47 superfamilies and is second only to the Coleoptera (the beetles) in number of described species.

Trying to actually find a critter like these butteflies and moths by scientific name can get kind of harrowing without really understanding at least something about Taxonomy. It always seems to have no real sense or wrong catagories because what you thought was a particular animals name might have only been its family and genus. In some cases genus or even higher is as far as they go, meaning they're fairly unique and in most cases such as the suborder Zeugloptera, very primitive.

There are several different forms of Taxonomy in of itself. Phylogenetic taxonomy (or cladistic taxonomy), classing organisms by clades. Numerical taxonomy or taximetrics and non-scientific taxonomy or folk taxonomy. Fortunately, I only care to understand at least a bit about the most common, usually linnaean alpha taxonomy, which falls classes in heirarchy ranks.

The only real problem with taxonomy and ranks is how some species can have so many subdivisions, and the way taxonomy itself has variations and constantly changes to species discovery and moving some species from one place to another in re-classifications.

Even with hierarchy there are three different types of systems that use empire, kingdom and domain. Depending on what you're looking at or using depends on where something like Neoptera goes between subclass and order in the system I'm listing. It may be a superorder, infraclass or a division below subclass.


An Example of Taxonomy Ranks

Domain
(Superkingdom, Superregnum
or Empire)

Kingdom (Regnum)

Animalia

|
Eukarya

--Subkingdom (Subregnum)

Eumetazoa

 

----Branch

 
 

------Infrakingdom

 

Superphylum

Phylum (or Division)

Arthropoda

|
Protostomia

--Subphylum

Hexapoda

 

----Infraphylum

 

Superclass

Class

Insecta

 

--Subclass

Pterygota

 

----Infraclass

Neoptera (division)

 

------Parvclass

Endopterygota (subdivision)

Supercohort

Cohort

 
 

--Subcohort

 
 

----Infracohort

 

Magnorder
--Superorder
----Grandorder

   

------Mirorder

Order

Lepidoptera

 

--Suborder

Zeugloptera
Heterobathmiina
Glossata
Aglossata

 

----Infraorder

 
 

------Parvorder

 
   

--Division
----Subdivision
------Section
--------Subsection

Superfamily
--Series
----Group

Family

 
 

--Subfamily

 
 

----Infrafamily

 

Supertribe

Tribe

 
 

--Subtribe

 
 

----Infratribe

 
 

Genera (singular: Genus)

Subgenus

 

--Species

--Subspecies


Example

Order
Lepidoptera
 
 
Suborder
Glossata
 
-- Infraorder
-- Heteroneura
   

--- Division: Ditrysia
---- Section: Tineina
------ Subsection: Sesiina

Superfamily

Sesioidea

 

-- Family

-- Sesiidae: Clear Wing Moths

 
 

Subfamily

Paranthreninae

Genus

Paranthrene

 

-- Species

-- Robiniae

 
 

Subspecies

Perlucida

A Clear Wing Moth

Paranthrene Robinia

Subspecies

Paranthrene Robinia Perlucida


Basically what you're looking at though is the main parts being the hierarchical ("heads") of classification itself. Super-Family-Tribe-Genus-Species with the most classic divisions of ranks in the heirarchy being Sub-Infra. Lepidoptera Superfamily is the only one who has to worry about having a series and group. Anything below subspecies is botany.

The Family rank are usually classified into common names of general species as a whole. Families as a whole have specific, common genetic and physical traits that make them the same family in a specific order. Such as the family Papilionidae are all swallowtails falling genetically into one family.

Swallowtails are then ranked by genus (type) such as the swallowtail genus Graphium is all swordtails.

The rank of species is the specific descriptor type such as Sarpedon are one swordtail species known as Common Bluebottle or Blue Triangle.

Further subspecies rank denotes a subspecific description. Such as Sarpedon Luctatius is a more specific race of common bluebottle than Sarpedon Nipponum but still very difficult to distinguish one bluebottle from another without knowing that particular subspecies physical differences like shapes and colors.

Suborders of Lepidoptera:
Zeugloptera
Heterobathmiina
Aglossata
Glossata

Suborder Zeugloptera

Superfamily
Micropterigidae
Family
Micropterigidae - Mandibulate Archaic Moths

Suborder Heterobathmiina

Superfamily
Heterobathmioidea
Family
Heterobathmioidea -

Suborder Aglossata

Superfamily
Agathiphagoidea
Family
Agathiphagidae - Kauri moths

Suborder Glossata

Glossata Infraorder
Heteroneura

Heteroneura Division
Ditrysia

Ditrysia Section
Cossina

Cossina Subsection
Cossina

Superfamily
Castnioidea
Family
Castniidae -
Superfamily
Cossoidea
Cossoidea Series
Cossiformes
Family
Cossidae - Carpenter Moths

Family

Dudgeoneidae -

Cossoidea Series

Limacodiformes

Family

Cyclotornidae -

Family

Epipyropidae - Planthopper Parasite Moths

Family

Dalceridae -Slug Moths

Family

Limacodidae - Slug/Cup Moths

Superfamily

Tortricoidea

Family

Tortricidae - Tortrix Moths

Cossina Subsection
Bombycina

Superfamily
Bombycoidea
Family
Anthelidae - Australian Lappet Moths
Family
Bombycidae - Mori: Asian Silkworm
Family
Brahmaeidae - Brahmin Moths
Family
Carthaeidae -
Family
Endromidae - Endromis Versicolora: Kentish Glory
Family
Eupterotidae -
Family
Lasiocampidae - Eggar, Snout or Lappet Moths
Family
Lemoniidae -
Family
Mimallonidae -
Family
Mirinidae -
Family
Saturniidae - Giant Silkworm, Emperor and Hawk Moths
Superfamily
Calliduloidea
Family
Callidulidae - Callidulid Moth
Superfamily
Drepanoidea
Family
Axiidae -
Family
Drepanidae - Hook-tip and Lutestring moths (ect.)
Superfamily
Geometroidea
Family
Geometridae - Inchworms
Family
Hedylidae - Butterfly Moths
Superfamily
Noctuoidea
Family
Arctiidae - Tiger, Footmen, Lichen, Wasp (ect.) moths
Family
Doidae -
Family
Lymantriidae - Tussock Moths
Family
Noctuidae - Owlets, Cutworm Moths
Family
Nolidae - Tuft Moths
Family
Notodontidae - Prominent, (ect.) Moths
Family
Oenosandridae -
Family
Pantheidae -
Superfamily
Papilionoidea
Papilionoidea Series
Hesperiiformes
Family
Hesperiidae -
Papilionoidea Series
Papilioniformes
Family
Lycaenidae - Gossamer-winged Butterflies
Family
Nymphalidae - Admiral, Tortoiseshell, Fritillaries (ect.) Butterflies
Family
Papilionidae -
Family
Pieridae -
Family
Riodinidae - Metalmark Butterflies
Superfamily
Sphingoidea
Family
Sphingidae - Hawk, Hummingbird Hawk, Sphinx, Hornworm Moths
Superfamily
Hedylidae - Butterfly Moths
Family
Uranioidea -
Family
Epicopeiidae -
Family
Sematuridae -
Family
Uraniidae -

Ditrysia Section
Tineina

Tineina Subsection
Sesiina

Superfamily
Sesioidea
Family
Brachodidae -
Family
Sesiidae -
Family
Urodidae -
Family
Brachodidae -
Family
Choreutidae -
Superfamily
Zygaenoidea
Family
Heterogynidae -
Family
Zygaenidae -
Family
Himantopteridae -
Family
Lacturidae -
Family
Somabrachyidae -
Family
Megalopygidae -
Family
Aididae -
Family
Anomoeotidae -

Tineina Subsection
Tineina

Superfamily
Copromorphoidea
Family
Copromorphidae -
Family
Alucitidae -
Family
Carposinidae -
Family
Epermeniidae -
Superfamily
Galacticoidea
Family
Galacticidae -
Superfamily
Gelechioidea
Family
Agonoxenidae -
Family
Batrachedridae -
Family
Blastobasidae -
Family
Coleophoridae -
Family
Cosmopterigidae -
Family
Elachistidae -
Family
Ethmiidae -
Family
Gelechiidae -
Family
Holcopogonidae -
Family
Lecithoceridae -
Family
Metachandidae -
Family
Momphidae -
Family
Oecophoridae -
Family
Pterolonchidae -
Family
Scythrididae -
Family
Symmocidae -
Superfamily
Immoidea
Family
Immidae -
Superfamily
Pterophoroidea
Family
Tineodidae -
Family
Pterophoridae -
Superfamily
Pyraloidea
Family
Hyblaeidae -
Family
Thyrididae -
Family
Pyralidae -

Family

Crambidae -

Superfamily

Simaethistoidea

Family

Simaethistidae -

Superfamily

Tineoidea

Tineoidea Series

Tineiformes

Family

Acrolophidae -

Family

Arrhenophanidae -

Family

Eriocottidae -

Family

Lypusidae -

Family

Psychidae -

Family

Tineidae -

Tineoidea Series

Gracillariiformes

Family

Bucculatricidae -

Family

Douglasiidae -

Family

Gracillariidae -

Family

Roeslerstammiidae -

Superfamily

Whalleyanoidea

Family

Whalleyanidae -

Superfamily

Yponomeutoidea

Family

Acrolepiidae -

Family

Bedelliidae -

Family

Glyphipterigidae -

Family

Heliodinidae -

Family

Lyonetiidae -

Family

Plutellidae -

Family

Yponomeutidae -

Family

Ypsolophidae -

Heteroneura Division
Monotrysia

Monotrysia Section
Nepticulina

Superfamily
Nepticuloidea
Family
Nepticulidae -
Family
Opostegidae -
Superfamily
Tischerioidea
Family
Tischeriidae -
Superfamily
Palaephatoidea
Family
Palaephatidae -

Monotrysia Section
Incurvariina

Superfamily
Incurvarioidea
Family
Incurvariidae -
Family
Cecidosidae -
Family
Prodoxidae -
Family
Adelidae -
Family
Heliozelidae -
Family
Crinopterygidae -

Glossata Infraorder
Dacnonypha

Superfamily
Eriocranioidea
Family
Eriocraniidae -
Family
Acanthopteroctetidae -

Glossata Infraorder
Lophocoronina

Superfamily
Lophocoronoidea
Family
Lophocoronidae -

Glossata Infraorder
Exoporia

Superfamily
Hepialoidea
Family
Anomosetidae -
Family
Hepialidae -
Family
Neotheoridae -
Family
Palaeosetidae -
Family
Prototheoridae -

Superfamily
Mnesarchaeoidea
Family
Mnesarchaeidae -

Glossata Infraorder
Neopseustina

Superfamily
Neopseustoidea
Family
Neopseustidae -