Documenting Geometridae


Geometridae show great variety in their appearance.

My first project in the Entomology department has been to document on the Collection Management System 561 species of Geometridae moths.  I’m seeing a pattern here, new department – first job, get to grips with how it uses KE EMu.

Curatorial Assistant of Entomology Phil Rispin has been recurating the Geometridae section of the C H Schill Worldwide Lepidoptera collection and allocating them accession numbers during the process so that they can be catalogued on KE EMu.

The important Schill Lepidoptera collection includes 40,000 specimens from 8,000 species of all families of butterflies and moths*.  For comparison, I and Phil had some difficulty in finding an agreed value for the current known number of Geometridae species, but a figure of around 22,000 was suggested to me by John Chainey, Curator of Lepidoptera at the Natural History Museum.  This doesn’t include subspecies or synonyms.  Geometridae are divided into a number of subfamilies.  The family Geometridae belongs (along with two other families) to the superfamily Geometroidea.


The unique accession number  can be seen underneath each specimen as well as much more information on locality and identification, in tiny, tiny writing, – more frequently printed nowadays. (I have read that keepers of collections used to be tested on their ability to write microscopically small before being appointed.)

Almost all of the 561 species had to be added as new species on KE EMu, along with the number of representatives of each species.  That totalled information on 2,310 specimens, which took me 3 and a half days, (this was the point at which I caught up with Phil, who is still in the process of accessioning the Geometridae) during which I learnt quite a bit more about superfamilies, families and subfamilies.


In your face …


… and beautifully subtle.

*Logunov, D V & Merriman N [Ed] (2012) The Manchester Museum: Window to the World.  The Manchester Museum, (01) 7: 87.