Page Layout Information
Page layout for the species accounts: Every page contains the following
headings or portions: Running header label, Latin name, Common name, Hodges
checklist number, Identification, Similar species, Distribution, Host, Pictures,
and North Dakota map.
1. Running header
label: Consisting of two parts, the Moths of North Dakota logo at
top left which is a return the title page and moth higher classification on
the right. The latter is informational but will, as the site develops, link
the user with identification keys for each level listed.
2. Latin name: This is the
species name. With this name a reader can access (through appropriate
journals) all original research for each species. Simply using this name as
the start of a web search will often yield much additional information.
3. Common name*: Included
here only in deference to the current fad of christening uncommonly
encountered species with a ‘familiar’ name. A great effort has been made
to include the most widely used common names. In a very few cases, existing
common names have been modified due to ambiguities with taxonomy. Where a ‘common
name’ is coined, it is preceded by the phrase ‘listed here as’ on each page.
All such names are placed in quotes in the species list.
4. Hodges’ checklist number:
This is a reference to the Hodges et al. 1983, Checklist of the moths
of America north of Mexico, as of this writing, the most recent listing of
North American Lepidoptera. The number refers to the entry number of a given
species in that checklist. Also under this heading can be found any taxonomic
advancements resulting in changes in classification since the checklist. In
cases where a species has been discovered or been introduced into North
America since the publication of that list, the number given is that of the
most closely related species, modified by the decimal addition of 0.1; i. e. Noctua
pronuba is listed as #11012.1 to distinguish from the related American
species Cryptocala acadiensis, #11012.
5. Identification: These
are the features to ‘clinch’ a species identification. Species specific
characters for differentiation from similar moths are given here along with
characters not readily observed in the ‘habitus picture’ provided. Terms
requiring the glossary will often be found here. The wingspan measurement
given (in millimeters) is the length of the right forewing from base to apex
of the specimen pictured.
6. Similar species: These
are the checklist numbers (and hyperlinks) to pages illustrating those species
most similar to the current one (in North Dakota). As pages are added
to this site an attempt is being made to include all members of complexes of similar species
simultaneously. For example, all three Feltia speciesi–
dingy cutworm moths are illustrated (#’s 10670, 10674, 10676) or the three Hyles
species– white lined sphingids (#’s 7892, 7893, 7894).
7. Distribution: Under
this heading is a brief description of the species’ overall distribution.
8. Hosts: larval host
plants (or very rarely, animals) are listed here. Where known hosts constitute
an extensive list, this fact is noted rather than reciting a significant
portion of the local plant community. Also, such lists are condensed to only
those plants occurring in North Dakota. In cases where known host and known
moth distributions strongly disagree, this fact is noted– See Tarachidia
semiflava (#9085) for example.
9. Pictures: The habitus
pictures should give an overall appearance of the species. Each picture has
been checked against the original specimen for color accuracy. Where a species
has well marked sexual, seasonal, or varietal differences, these are
illustrated. Showing half a moth allows for a more detailed photograph within
space limitations (rapid download/ file size). Under each picture is the
collection data for the specimen illustrated.
10. North Dakota map:
Known collection sites represented by specimens in the North Dakota State
Insect Reference Collection, the author’s collection, other collections, or
from reliable literature sources are plotted on this map in dark green. Such
data as these are often not sufficient to indicate a species’ distribution
in the state and for this reason, county records of host plants taken from Atlas
of the Flora of the Great Plains (Great Plains Floral Association 1977)
are indicated by pale green shading. This information is, in turn, augmented by the
overall moth distributions given in the text. The resultant three sided approach
(general range, county records, host plant county records) should give
the reader a handle on the expected distribution of a given species in North
*Over the past sixty years, and especially the last
20 years, there has been an impetus to create portable guides (often called
pocket or field guides) to various groups of the fauna and flora of various
regions of the world. The outstanding good these guides do is to provide
accessibility to the natural world and, the following comments not withstanding,
the amount of environmental awareness fostered by these guides is beneficial
There are however, two important deleterious side effects: 1)
They create what I term ‘the field guide mentality’ which is the
misconception that nature is simple and species can be identified by just
finding the right pocket guide– Moths of North Dakota should provide a
reality check on this ideal. Many important identification characters are not
visible in a ‘guide habitus picture’ and many of these features can only be
referred to using exact terminology. Some moths must be dissected to be
identified with certainty. 2) They create a duplicate and artificial system of
common names which are regionally based (eastern U.S. or Canada, or Mexico for
example) and similarly linguistically restricted when a system of names already
exists which is formulated in a single language, used worldwide for this
specific purpose, and provides a key to universal information retrieval for
all research ever done on any particular species. These two elements together,
‘field guide mentality’ and duplicate naming engender and encourage an
already extant scientific illiteracy– the tip of a very large (and not
melting) iceberg indeed.