JMcLeod's picture

Unidentified micro moth

Observed: 6th July 2012 By: JMcLeodJMcLeod’s reputation in InvertebratesJMcLeod’s reputation in InvertebratesJMcLeod’s reputation in Invertebrates
  • Crambus pascuellus
    Confidence: It's likely to be this, but I can't be certain.
  • Crambus pascuella
    Confidence: It's likely to be this, but I can't be certain.
    Likely ID
    Crambus pascuellus
    Confidence: It's likely to be this, but I can't be certain.
Species interactions

No interactions present.


amantell20's picture

What's in a name

You may well be right David, not being an authority on greek grammar myself I wouldn't know.

I suspect that most of the rest of us would prefer to use the terms that are used by reference books, web sites etc. At least that way naming is consistent and things can be found when searching for them. Suggesting that someone should be using 'pascuellus' may not be terribly helpful in that regard.

It would be interesting to see what the response would be if you popped this question up in one of the forums here!

DavidNotton's picture


Yes I agree consistency is important, the current situation is inconsistent because both pascuella and pascuellus are used and both masculine and feminine endings are used in Crambus. Some modern sources EoL website, Discover Life website are now using the correct masculine names consistently and that, I think, is the way it will go, and usage will converge on the correct names. I think the response on the forum would be that iSpot is currently working to update the errors on its name list and that all contributions to that process would be welcome. I'm happy to use the correct name and be ahead of the crowd.

amantell20's picture

I can see where you are

I can see where you are coming from, but until the names do actually change I don't think it is right to depart from the accepted. Can you be sure they will change? And when? Accuracy seems more important to me than (if you'll forgive me for saying so) a point of grammar in a foreign language?

I expect you know more about this than I do; (which wouldn't be difficult!) I presume there is there a change process for names, and if so shouldn't you adhere to it?

DavidNotton's picture

The accurate and generally accepted process

is to follow the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature available on line here:
The gender of genus group names is determined by Article 30, gender agreement in 31.

The point of the Code is ensure universality and stability in zoological names. Following grammar is not the point, it is just a means to get to one consistent name.

I can't prevent people ignoring the Code, but ultimately that's a recipe for confusion - the onus is on people using the incorrect name to justify that change, not the other way around.

amantell20's picture


I'm confused. Just to go back a step, I am making the heroic assumption that there is a single, internationally recognised and centrally agreed name for each species, which as you say may include some that are grammatically dubious. If so which name is it in this case?

DavidNotton's picture

agreed names

Unfortunately because of the very large number of Lepidoptera names, varying practice in the past, and the fact that taxonomy is an active process there is no 100% accurate list of names, and even the current British lists are subject to periodic changes as knowledge improves. So yes there are incorrect names in use even for British moths.

What is single and internationally recognised is the ICZN Code, which allows people to decide what is the correct name.

It is clear the Code shows that the genus is masculine and the species name must agree with that, i.e. Crambus pascuellus (this is mandatory according to the Code).

amantell20's picture

Thank you David - I now know

Thank you David - I now know a lot more than I did!