Naming and Describing Insects

For a variety of reasons but most obviously the enormous diversity within the class Insecta and economic considerations, insect taxonomists usually work within fairly narrow boundaries. Only by doing this can they acquire the necessary familiarity with a particular group (including knowledge of the relevant literature) to determine whether the specimen they are examining has been described and named or may be new to science. Even after a particular group has been chosen for study, there are typically superimposed bio-geographic constraints, that is, taxonomists restrict their studies to particular geographic regions.

Many frequently encountered insects, especially pests, have a "common name" by which they are known. The name may refer to a particular species (e.g., house fly) or to a larger group (e.g., scorpionflies) and reflects a characteristic feature of the insect's appearance or habits. Unfortunately, insects of widely different groups may have similar habits (e.g., so-called "leaf miners" may be larvae of Diptera, Lepidoptera, or Hymenoptera) or the same common name may refer to different species of insects in different parts of the world. Thus, to avoid possible confusion, each insect species, like all other organisms both fossil and extant, is given a unique latinized binomial (two-part) name, a system introduced by Linnaeus in the early 1700s. In the Latin name, which is always italicized, the first word denotes the genus, the second the species (e.g., Musca domestica for the house fly). Rarely, the name has three parts, the third indicating the subspecies. (It should be noted, however, that some national entomological societies such as those of the United States and Canada publish lists of the approved common names for species in order to allow their use, yet avoid possible misunderstanding.)

Species are normally distinguished on the basis of a small number of key features (characters) that exist in a specific character state in each species (e.g., "number of tarsal segments" is a character, and "five tarsal segments" is a character state). Thus, a taxonomist will base the description of a new species on the characters already established for other species in the same group to facilitate comparison with them. Careful collection and curation (preparation, preservation, and maintenance) of specimens are critical to taxonomy to ensure that potentially important characters (which may be minute and delicate) are not damaged. The specimens must be properly labeled with the date and place of collection (preferably using map coordinates) and the collector's name. To facilitate proper maintenance, as well as accessibility for further studies, specimens are usually submitted to a central repository, the name of which is included in the published description of the species, to become part of the reference collection.

The specimens whose description leads to the establishment of a new species form the type series, one only of which becomes the standard reference specimen, the holo-type, the others in the series being paratypes. The name given to a new species must follow the rules and universal nomenclatural system laid down by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (published in the International Code of Zoological

Beekeeping for Beginners

Beekeeping for Beginners

The information in this book is useful to anyone wanting to start beekeeping as a hobby or a business. It was written for beginners. Those who have never looked into beekeeping, may not understand the meaning of the terminology used by people in the industry. We have tried to overcome the problem by giving explanations. We want you to be able to use this book as a guide in to beekeeping.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment