Insects of Britain and Ireland: orders

DELTA home

L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


This data set is generated from a DELTA database (Dallwitz 1980; Dallwitz, Paine and Zurcher 1993). It forms part of the ‘Insects of Britain and Ireland’ suite of packages, which was originally intended to present scans of the fine hand-coloured engravings of insects in John Curtis’s British Entomology: illustrations and descriptions of the genera of insects found in Great Britain and Ireland (1824–1840), of which Volumes 1–12 volumes of the first edition are available to us. For further information on this remarkable work, see Notes on John Curtis’s British Entomology. The Curtis illustrations have subsequently been supplemented from other sources listed in the References.

In addition to presenting Curtis’s and other early illustrations, all the ‘Insects of Britain and Ireland’ subsets incorporate descriptive data organized under the DELTA system, and purport to offer facilities for attempting at least partial identification and for information retrieval, via the interactive program Intkey. The present one encompasses all the families of Coleoptera of Britain and Ireland, described via standard morphological and ecological characters and extensively illustrated. It is unlikely to achieve its taxonomic objectives satisfactorily at this early stage of development, but in any case the DELTA data (from which updates of the interactive package are easily generated) are readily accessible for improving, correcting and extending. Input from interested entomologists is of course encouraged in this connection.

Users wanting to refer categories of insects (wasp, beetle, snake-fly, etc.) to their orders via their common names can do so via Intkey (see ‘Hints on using Intkey’).

The present descriptions of the Orders were compiled mainly from Britton et al. (1970) and Imms (1956), then cross referenced against keys currently available on the Internet (see References). They were then further improved by feeding back information obtained during preparation of the subsets for individual orders. The nomenclature of genera and species illustrated has been aligned with reference to the ‘Check List’ of Kloet and Hincks (1945), updates of this, and subsequently via recent, invaluable Internet postings (well exemplified by the Fauna Europaea Web Service; see References). The few Curtis names not yet located are indicated by quotation marks in the Intkey displays of descriptions and images, and the plates involved are presented under the pseudo-taxon ‘Unidentified images’. By including illustrations additional to those of Curtis from the numerous early works listed in the References, we are able to exemplify all the British insect orders (plus Phasmatodea and Mantodea, of which introduced species may occasionally be encountered) with at least one picture.

The orders Coleoptera, Diptera, Ephemeroptera, Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, Odonata, Orthoptera, Lepidoptera and Trichoptera are detailed to family and/or lower taxonomic levels, and illustrated very extensively, in the separate data sets associated with this one. Their names appear in upper case in this subset. Of those not treated in separate data sets, the British species of Blattodea and Dermaptera are mostly illustrated in this one.

Edited 16 May 2016