Are Butterflies Moths?

Hank & Priscilla Brodkin hankb at
Tue Jun 26 23:55:21 EDT 2001

Patrick Foley wrote:
> Mary Beth and other potential postcladists,
> Cladism is the application of Darwin's branching tree of evolution (which he
> clearly is thinking about in the Origin when he expects a revolution in
> taxonomy from his theory) to taxonomic problems. It  takes on several forms,
> some polemical. It is true that some cladists do not even want to form the
> word in their mouth of a taxonomic category that is not a clade (branch).
> Moths (as commonly defined) do not form a clade. Lepidoptera apparently do.
> Butterflies apparently do form a clade (although less is known about this
> than you would expect). So an extremely intolerant cladist would not want to
> use the word 'moth' unless you included butterflies. Most cladists would
> allow you to use the term moth as a catchall term for a nonclade,
> paraphyletic group. As it has been used for a long time by most
> lepidopterists.
> Come on people, lets get together,

Patrick -
If I may be allowed one observation as a non-scientist.
One of the things that drives science and all search for knowledge is
that we do NOT all get together.
The most important discoveries have been made by folks questioning the
status quo.  Disagreement is indeed the mother's milk of science!
We can see examples of this every day on a small scale on this mailist. 
So arguments over nomenclature, relationships, methods of research,
perhaps even questioning evolution itself, can open windows to let in
fresh air and open doors to rooms that no one knew were there.
So by all means let's NOT all get together!

	             Hank & Priscilla Brodkin
	          Carr Canyon, Cochise County, AZ
                   Send Mailto:hankb at
             SouthEast Arizona Butterfly Association

         "Butterflies of Arizona - a Photographic Guide" 
    by Bob Stewart, Priscilla and Hank Brodkin - due September 2001


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