Are Butterflies Moths?

Patrick Foley patfoley at
Wed Jun 27 09:50:13 EDT 2001

Hank and Priscilla,

I was joking about the cladistic tendency to enforce branch inclusions (and I
recently noticed that Jesse Colin Young is touring). I am all in favor of useful

Patrick Foley
patfoley at

Hank & Priscilla Brodkin wrote:

> 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.
> >
> (SNIP)
> >
> > 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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