British Insects: the Genera of Orthoptera


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


This data set is generated from a DELTA database (Dallwitz 1980; Dallwitz, Paine, and Zurcher 1993). The original intention of the ‘British Insects’ suite of packages, of which it forms part, was primarily 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). The first 12 volumes of the first edition (up to 1835) were directly available to us, and pages issued from 1836-1840 have been accessed from other sources (see Notes on John Curtis’s British Entomology).

In addition to presenting Curtis’s and other early illustrations, all the ‘British Insects’ subsets incorporate descriptive data organized under the DELTA system, and purport to offer at least partial identification and information retrieval facilities via the interactive program Intkey. By addition of images from Burr (1897) and Lucas (1920), the present subset illustrates after a fashion all the genera and nearly all the species of Orthoptera listed as British by W.O. Steel in the 1964 update of Kloet and Hincks’s ‘Check List’, and those described and keyed out (as opposed to merely listed as occasional, casual introductions) by and Marshall and Haes (1990). It also illustrates a few tropical and mainland-European species occasionally imported accidentally and found near docks, etc.

The present, first draft generic descriptions have been compiled with reference to Imms (1957), Key (1970), Burr’s and Lucas’s books, and the excellent and thorough treatment by Marshall and Haes (1990). The latter offers a wealth of taxonomic and ecological information, as well as first-rate, comprehensive illustrations, and is indispensable for persons seriously interested in British Orthoptera. Nevertheless, given the relatively few taxa involved, the present package should permit a reasonably confident approach to identifying genera and most of the species likely to be encountered in Britain, and it should certainly suffice to demonstrate the superiority of interactive identification and information retrieval over hard copy. Similar considerations apply to other compilations in this ‘British Insects’ series, all of which are readily accessible for extending, improving and making corrections. Organization under the Delta system ensures ready access for corrections and improvements. Informed criticism and constructive input are of course welcome, and will be appropriately acknowledged. Alternatively, complete Delta data sets can be donated if required for teaching purposes, or to any professional or amateur entomologist or organization interested in developing them further.