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Lepidopterology (from Ancient Greek ? (scale) and (wing); and - -logia.),[1] is a branch of entomology concerning the scientific study of moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies. Someone that studies in this field is a lepidopterist or, archaically, an aurelian.


Post-Renaissance, the rise of the "lepidopterist" can be attributed to the expanding interest in science, nature and the surroundings. When Linnaeus wrote the tenth edition of the Systema Naturae in 1758, there was already "a substantial body of published work on Lepidopteran natural history" (Kristensen, 1999).[2]

These included:[2]

  • Insectorum sive Minimorum Animalium Theatrum - Thomas Mouffet (1634)
  • Metamorphosis Naturalis - Jan Goedart (1662-67 )
  • Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium - Maria S. Merian (1705), whose work included illustrated accounts of European Lepidoptera
  • Historia Insectorum - John Ray (1710)
  • Papilionum Brittaniae icones - James Petiver (1717)

Collections and illustrations

Although the chief mode of study of the butterflies was through pinned specimen collections, it was difficult for cataloguing and communicating names and descriptions widely. Books on butterflies with plates that were either hand-painted, lithographed and printed have been a major tool in lepidopterology. These include the massive works by Adalbert Seitz. Some unusual works like the Butterfly Fauna of Ceylon (1942) by Lionel Gilbert Ollyett Woodhouse (1888-1965) and Moths and Butterflies of the United States East of the Rocky Mountains (1900) by Sherman F. Denton made use of butterfly wing-prints where the illustrations incorporated the scales of the wings.[3] Illustrious Russian writer, Vladimir Nabokov was a noted lepidopterist, having discovered the passion at the age of seven. He would later write about butterflies, collect, and illustrate them[4]. Nabokov volunteered at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology in the Entomology Department[5] where he would organize specimens for as much as 14 hours a day[6].

Lepidopterological societies

Lepidopterists are served by a number of scientific societies, both national and international in scope. They promote research in lepidopterology and dissemination of the findings therefrom primarily through the arrangement of talks such as the biennial European Congresses of Lepidopterology or the TILS Leps Talk. These societies include:

  • Lepidopterists' Society
  • Societas Europaea Lepidopterologica
  • Lepidoptera Research Foundation
  • North American Butterfly Association
  • Association for Tropical Lepidoptera
  • International Lepidoptera Survey
  • Lepidopterological Society of Denmark
  • Lepidopterological Society of Finland
  • Lepidopterological Society of Japan
  • Sicilian Lepidopterological Association
  • Southern Lepidopterists' Society
  • Study Group of Hessian Lepidopterologists
  • Lepidopterists' Society of Africa

Lepidopterological journals

See also


  1. ^ Harper, Douglas. "lepidoptera". The Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Kristensen, Niels P. (1999). "Historical Introduction". In Kristensen, Niels P. Lepidoptera, moths and butterflies: Evolution, Systematics and Biogeography. Volume 4, Part 35 of Handbuch der Zoologie:Eine Naturgeschichte der Stämme des Tierreiches. Arthropoda: Insecta. Walter de Gruyter. p. 1. ISBN 978-3-11-015704-8. Retrieved 2010. 
  3. ^ Cowan, C.F. (1968). "Butterfly wing-prints". J. Soc. Biblphy nat. Hist. 4 (7): 368-369. doi:10.3366/jsbnh.1968.4.7.368. 
  4. ^ Batuman, Elif (2016-03-23). "Vladimir Nabokov, Butterfly Illustrator". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved . 
  5. ^ "Lepidoptera Love: Nabokov's Untold Story". library.mcz.harvard.edu. Retrieved . 
  6. ^ Batuman, Elif (2016-03-23). "Vladimir Nabokov, Butterfly Illustrator". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved . 

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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