And what is in a name?

Ron at Ron at
Sat Jul 14 16:37:32 CDT 2001

The below is an entirely different subject than names... or is it?  See
Though it is apples and grapes, cavalconte's comments are some pretty fine
sour grapes to go with my sour apples. I hate to delete any of both.  But
most who will read this have already read both or can re-open them. Taxacom
in particular limits not only the number of posts per person per day but
also length. Thus, much snipping.

---- Original Message -----
From: <cavalconte at>
Subject: Re: And what is in a name?>
> "A rose by any other name......."
>                        ---Bill Shakespeare
> "....I want to hear...the scream...of...the...butterfly...."
>                        ---Jim Morrison

This is saying that while we argue about epithets if we don't get more
involved with habitat protection all we will be talking about is epitaphs.
Or, quit talking and put out the fire!!!!

> Well, if the butterflies could talk, what would they say....
> Howdy y'all.  Eacles imperialis here.  Southerners know us well as the
"imperial moth", or more often as "that huge yellow thing on the screen"
and my scary spiny caterpillar twirled the parasol of many a
mint-julep-sippin' southern belle, on the back porch, back in the day.
> Now you're not gonna believe this one, colonel, but I once had some
Yankee cousins!   That's right, pale, skinny-legged New Englanders on
beaches and campsites all through the old colonies had the same reaction to
my Yankee kin....many years ago....but now, we prefer to stay down below
the Mason Dixon line, thank you very much

new stuff from Ron:
To a southerner where the Imperial Moth sill reigns, it is hard to
comprehend the loss of this moth in the northeast. As a person who is both
concerned about the well being of organisms and understands systematics - I
can only point a finger to the moth-ers who so many of are proud hyper
lumpers who distain the subspecies syndrome. I am saddened to think of the
many valid subspecies going undescribed - only to end up with no-name, no
identity, no matter, no more. Not to mention the future evolutionary
entities that will never exist due to these unknown extinctions of
potential parents.

Eacles imperialis imperialis is the subspecies in the northeastern US. It
exists as a subspecies only in the northeast US and down the Appalachians
(same range as most northern subspecies of many butterflies, skippers and
moths). Then in cline of intermediates along the eastern seaboard to the
southern (ignored) subspecies Eacles imperialis imperatoria (Smith, 1797 -
as adopted by Ferguson 1971,  per ICZN etc.). This subspecies is
found across the deep South inc. Florida.

Here,  cavalconte@, is where taxonomic names are very relevant. We can not,
and will not, protect that which we do not know. Imperialis of the South is
NOT Imperialis of the north. THIS taxonomic understanding provides the
single greatest legal reason to see imperialis imperialis as threatened -
for what is common in the south is imperialis imperatoria. A rose by any
other name? Not so. Shakespeare sure had a way with words, but he didn't
know squat about Roses. There is sure a lot of difference between Rosa
bracteata, canina, carolina, damascena, eglanteria, gallica, laevigata,
micrantha, multiflora, palustris, setigera.... not to mention villosa,
lyoni, floridana etc. There would be no endangered ros-es if all there was
was a rose.

Back to imperialis. In MONA (Moth of America North of Mexico) Ferguson
establishes that imperatoria is NOT a seasonal form  "Study of a large
sample from coastal South Carolina, where the species is double brooded,
shows that the variation color is not seasonal."  Imperialis as a "form" is
uncommon in subspecies imperatoria and "form" imperatoria is virtually
unknown in subspecies imperialis.

So, you want to protect Imperial Moth?  Or any other animal or plant? Then
one must determine just what it is. Which means you environmentalist need
us taxonomic geeks after all.

Ron Gatrelle

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