Stable English Names

Mark Walker MWalker at
Tue Jun 8 01:37:51 EDT 1999

Norbert Kondla wrote:

I agree that it would be desirable to have stable English names for
butterflies in Canada and USA.  This will evolve over time as creative minds
come up with names that are widely acceptable.  Those names that are not a
good fit in the minds of butterfly people will be avoided no matter how many
times they appear in books and lists. A couple of examples that give me gas
pains are the "Labrador Sulphur". Since this species range is about 98 %
outside of Labrador the name does not seem very logical.  I suppose I could
make the same observation about "Rocky Mountain Parnassian" - think the last
time I looked at a map better than 2/3 of its range is actually outside of
the Rocks. Names that are either descriptive of a species range or
appearance are most likely to be embraced by users- and also most likely to
communicate useful information.

In the western U.S., many of the common names seem to originate with
localized subspecies, and are _erroneously_ propagated to other ssp.  Common
names for the type species often conflict, depending on which _source_ you
might consult - which is one of the problems with the use of common names in
widely diverse geographical areas.  Science doesn't place any demands nor
bestow authorization concerning their use, and so there really is no
_source_.  As a result, catchy names like "Rocky Mountain Parnassian" can
gain widespread acceptance.

In the U.K., I assume constrained boundaries and stable, well studied
natural history makes this less of a problem.

Mark Walker.

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