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Digital Guide to Moth Identification


Recent Developments and Website Update by Steve Nanz




Steve Nanz (2014)


Robert Patterson




Greetings moth enthusiasts! It has been several years since this page was last updated and naturally there has been some concern as to the fate of MPG. I am pleased to report that MPG has awakened from its slumber. We are back in business!

My name is Steve Nanz and I have the honor of having been given the opportunity to fill the enormous shoes left by Bob Patterson who has for the most part stepped away from daily activity at MPG. I first came into contact with Bob in 2004 at a time when my interest in nature photography had led me to insects and in particular moths, rekindling a childhood passion. Years later Bob asked if I might be interested in helping out at MPG. I explained that I could not make the commitment but might be available once I had quit my day job. That day finally came last year when I sold the remaining interest I had in the company I had founded in 1989. I was now retired! For the last year Bob has been patiently coaching me in the myriad intricacies of MPG as well as Lepidoptera in general, a task complicated by my having no formal background in any branch of biology. But with help from Bob Patterson and Greg Pohl, I have started the long process of updating MPG.

Taxonomic Update. The taxonomy at MPG was last revised in June, 2017 when I paid Bob a visit at his home in Maryland. The previous major update occurred around 2012. The latest update includes most of the taxonomic changes through 2016 and even some of 2017. For the most part, MPG has followed Greg Pohl's Annotated taxonomic checklist of the Lepidoptera of North America, North of Mexico, coauthored by Bob Patterson and Jonathan Pelham. This provisional list was made available in early 2016 and has been revised several times since as new information has come in. The MPG list now includes those changes.

Phylogenetic Sequence Numbers. As many of you know, MPG adopted the checklist numbers used in the Hodges 1983 MONA Checklist. Unfortunately, as our understanding of Lepidoptera systemics advanced, those static numbers have become less descriptive of the taxonomic relationships between species. Recognizing this problem, Bob Patterson conceived of an alternative numbering system in which each species would be given an additional new number based on our current understanding of phylogeny and those numbers would be revised as our understanding evolved. This system was first implemented in Lafontaine & Schmidt, 2010 Annotated check list of the Noctuoidea (Insecta, Lepidoptera) of North America north of Mexico. MPG in turn adopted the new system used in Lafontaine & Schmidt, 2010 with temporary place holder numbers for species outside of Noctuoidea while still retaining the MONA checklist numbering system. Pohl et al. 2016 fleshed out the numbers outside Noctuoidea and MPG has now replaced those placeholder numbers with Pohl's new numbers. In the upper left side of each species plate, users will now find a 6 digit number which can be used to organize species phylogenetically. For more in depth discussions of these numbers, please refer to Pohl et al. 2016, p. 17 and Lafontaine & Schmidt, 2010, p. 8. In the coming months it is my hope that we will be able to add moth family plates with species sorted using this new system so users will have a choice of viewing options going forward.

Corrections and Comments. Please send me an email for any corrections or comments. They would be greatly appreciated but please limit those emails to just those topics. If you need a moth identified, please post it on BugGuide. For caterpillar corrections and questions, please contact Jane & John Balaban.


Job Openings for Volunteers. For anyone interested in helping out at MPG, please send me an email. Your contribution would be greatly appreciated.

Acknowledgements. I would like to thank Bob Patterson for both the labor of love that is MPG and the opportunity to follow in his footsteps. I would also like to thank both Bob and Greg Pohl for their patience and guidance during this transition. Many others lent their expertise in the recent taxonomic revision including Don Lafontaine, Chris Schmidt, Jonathan Pelham, Eric Metzler, Jean-François Landry, Richard Brown, Terry Harrison, John Brown, Peter Jump, Jason Dombroskie, Todd Gilligan, Tarmann Gerhard, Marc Epstein, Brian Scholtens, James Hayden, Debbie Matthews, Bill Oehlke, Richard Peigler and Kyhl Austin. Mike Boone, who developed the MPG website, also deserves recognition. I'm sure there are others whose names I have neglected. Thank you everyone for your help.

-- Steve Nanz




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