Common Names update

Mike Quinn ento at
Sun Mar 31 11:46:01 EST 2002

Ron, My suggestion that your efforts to post common names for subspp. were a
"waste" of time was quite undiplomatic. However, I don't see the following
names posted to one of your web sites being widely adopted:

Strymon melinus melinus - Gray Hairstreak
Strymon melinus humuli - ? Gray Hairstreak
Strymon melinus franki - Frank’s Gray Hairstreak
Strymon melinus pudicus - Modest Hairstreak
Strymon melinus setonia - Seton Lake hairstreak
Strymon melinus atrofasciatus - Black-banded Hairstreak

(Are there a similar number of subspp. for Musca domestica L.?)

I am not a strong proponent of subspp. There are an estimated 30,000 plus
species of insects found in Texas. That is plenty for me without the need
for further division. There's a strong correlation between the number of
subspp. a taxon has and the number of amateur enthusiasts involved. Examples
include Tiger and Longhorn Beetles, Butterflies, Orchids, and Cacti (though
the latter two are further split by crossbreeding). I believe there are
relatively few subspp. described for Moths, Diptera, and Hymenoptera. This
is not to suggest that there is no utility to subspp. Apis mellifera L. has
numerous important subspp.

Dr. Jacqueline Miller's system was to determine the most widely used common
name and designate it as the preferred name. Her list of names has not been
widely adopted. (NABA wasn't mentioned in her book as NABA was formed in the
same year as it was published.)

Miller, J. Y. (ed.) 1992. The common names of North American Butterflies.
Smithsonian Press, Washington, D.C.

Miller's list was criticized because it was compiled by one person, as were
the lists she drew from. Incidentally, NABA used the Miller list as their
starting point. The NABA English Names Committee is actually the closer
analogy to the AOU Committee. Committee members of the first NABA checklist
edition included Paul Opler and Robert Robbins. (They continue to serve on
the NABA BOD.) The NABA list has been adopted by most recently published
field guides and most governmental and non-governmental entities that keep
lists of butterflies. I think this is the list that the vast majority of
general public will continue to defer to unless the Lep. Soc. publishes a
list of common names.

NABA-Checklist of North American Butterflies
Occurring North of Mexico-2nd Edition

The committee formed for the second edition was without systematists.
Glassberg concluded that the non-systematist committee members deferred to
the systematists when their group was being debated, thus the committee was
once again effectively reduced to a committee of one on these groups. The
second committee (sans systematists) has been described by Andy Warren as
basically a group of intellectuals, a criticism that unfortunately sticks.

Regardless, if you want to post common names for butterfly subspp., I would

1) Form a committee and
2) Use the NABA list as a starting point.

Ron, I am curious as to what event triggered your acceptance of common
names? Mike

Mike Quinn
New Braunfels, TX
ento at

-----Original Message-----
From: Ron Gatrelle
Sent: Friday, March 29, 2002 1:43 PM
To: CTaylor at; Leps-L
Subject: Re: Common Names update


  I am pro-watching,
pro-collecting, pro-scientific names, (now) pro-common names.   I only come
across as anti because I tend to take the side of those who are being
anti-ed or left out.  Is that clear?

My reaction to Mike's simple sentiment is wrapped up in one word "waste".
There was no positive in that post at all.  No:  I think you are wasting
your time but it would be great if they caught on - so I wish you well (as
in Clay's).   In fact the tone is -- I sure won't use them and will thus
not encourage anyone else to use them.  Hey, that is just an honest
rendition of how I took it.


My reference to the _1992_ Miller list is to show that many
common names for subspecies ONCE were established.  But they have been
largely abandoned in just 10 years!!!   TILS is just bringing them back to
everyone's attention again.



-----Original Message-----
From: Ron Gatrelle
Sent: Friday, March 29, 2002 12:19 AM
To: ento at; Leps-L
Subject: Re: Common Names update


The 1992 Official list of
common names (equivalent of the Ornithological Union's Bird names)
published by the Smithsonian, edited by the honorable Dr. J.Y. Miller and
forwarded by Dr. P. Opler and done in consultation with all the top
lepidopterists in the filed (note that J. Glassberg is not consulted and
naba not mentioned at all therein), lists the common names for


Ron Gatrelle


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit: 

More information about the Leps-l mailing list