DavidNotton's picture

Scientific name for Large Skipper: Ochlodes sylvanus (Esper, 1777)

Having the luxury of access to the ICZN office and an interest in nomenclature, I checked this out. The valid species name of the Large Skipper is sylvanus, now generally considered to belong to the genus Ochlodes, hence Ochlodes sylvanus (Esper, 1777). This follows a ruling by the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature in 2000 making the name sylvanus available.

Omitting a load of technical details - basically the ICZN resolved the confusion caused by the recent use of a variety of other names, some relating to eastern Palaearctic species which may or may not be related. Sylvanus was the name used for 150 years before the confusion started.

The name of the UK Large Skipper is likely to remain stable now because:
* the type specimen of O. sylvanus is from western Europe and is considered to be the same species as that in the UK
* the name sylvanus was published very early, 1777, and so has priority over all the names with which it might conceivable be synonymised.

Thanks to all the people who have already pointed out that O. sylvanus is correct! There are a number of web sources which have still to catch up.

Devyatkin 1997 Case 3046 Bull. Zool. Nomen. 54(4):231.
ICZN, 2000, Opinion 1944 Bull. Zool. Nomen. 57(1): 56.
Full text of these articles available at: http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/



DavidNotton's picture


Please could you add Ochlodes sylvanus to the iSpot lookup list? Thanks

Martin Harvey's picture


Hi David,

iSpot policy is to use the NBN/NHM species dictionary, and take the recommended names from there. It may not always be the most up-to-date but it does provide some degree of consistency and is a fully documented source. So requests for changes need to be directed to your colleague at NHM who looks after the dictionary, or they can be added via the NBN forums:

Having said that I don't think we are currently using the latest version of the NBN dictionary on iSpot, and we'll get that updated when we can.

Entomologist and biological recorder

DavidNotton's picture

NBN gateway is already using Ochlodes sylvanus

But for some reason I don't understand NBN list on NHM site is not. Please e-mail direct to speciesdictionary@nhm.ac.uk to get the NBN list on the NHM website changed. Many thanks!