Wikipedia:WikiProject Insects

The aim of this WikiProject is to set out broad suggestions about how to organize data in the articles relating to all insects and their relevant subdivisions. We also hope to encourage the development of important stubs and articles following these suggestions. In general, these are only suggestions, and you shouldn't feel obligated to follow them.


This WikiProject is an offshoot of WikiProject Tree of Life

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Overview of the classification of insectsEdit


Insect articles can be on any level that makes sense in context. Most will be about particular taxa. For example:

Other levels of taxonomy may be added if necessary: subclass, infraclass, suborder, infraorder, superfamily, subfamily, etc. In many cases, it makes sense to combine several taxonomic levels in a single article. For example, the genus Limulus contains only one species, Limulus polyphemus, so the one article covers both levels. Some large families, such as the Papilionidae and Carabidae, will need to be broken down at some stage because of the number of species. For this, lists of species by subfamily may be created. In some cases, geography, logistics, familiarity with fauna, and convenience may require a study to be restricted to a region or political boundary. Spider taxonomy and List of butterflies of India (Papilionidae) are good examples of attempts to achieve this. It may be useful to start with a high-level article, such as a family article, and then split off genus and/or species articles as the material builds. If possible, create links to articles on the levels immediately higher and lower. An article on a genus such as Bombus should link back to the family Apidae and order Hymenoptera, and down to species articles where they exist. Considering the vast number of species in some genera (or genera in some families, etc.), this may not always be possible, but should be tried as often as possible.

Criteria for inclusionEdit

At what level is it worth having a separate Wikipedia article for a particular insect? Any level you like. If we write individual articles for all one million-odd described species, we will be at it for a long time! The simplest (and probably best) rule is to have no rule: if you have the time and energy to write up some particularly obscure subspecies that most people have never even heard of, go to it! As a general guideline though, combine several species or subspecies into a single article when there isn't enough text to make more than short, unsatisfying stubs otherwise. If the article grows large enough to deserve splitting, that can always be done later. Also, it's preferable to start at a higher taxonomic level and work our way down to particular species than the reverse.

What about extinct insects? At the very least, we should include insects that have become extinct within historical times: within the last 5000 years or so. Most extinct insects will be much older however, but there seems to be no obvious reason to exclude any of them: there is already a nice page for trilobite; if an expert on fossil insects comes along and wants to contribute more, all the better.

Names and titlesEdit

In cases where common names are well-known and reasonably unique, they should be used for article titles. Scientific names should be used otherwise. Note the following guidelines in using scientific names:

  • Names of genera are always italicized and capitalized— Drosophila, Homarus, Limulus.
  • Specific epithets are always italicized and preceded by the name of the genus or an abbreviation of it— Limulus polyphemus or L. polyphemus, but never plain polyphemus, since such identifiers need not be unique (e.g. Gopherus polyphemus, Antheraea polyphemus). They are never capitalized.
  • Names of higher taxa are capitalized but not italicized— Limulidae, Orthoptera, Crustacea.

Common names of insects, like other organisms, are given in lower case. In cases where a group only contains a single subgroup, the two should not be separated. If there is no common name, the article should generally go under the scientific name that is most often used when discussing the group, or under the scientific name of lowest rank if there is no clear preference. However, for a genus that contains a single species, the genus name should be used since it is included in the binomial. For instance the order Amphionidacea, which has the single species Amphionides reynaudii, is discussed at Amphionides. Not all species need have separate articles. The simplest (and probably best) rule is to have no rule: if you have the time and energy to write up some particularly obscure subspecies that most people have never even heard of, go for it! As a general guideline, though, it's best to combine separate species into a single entry whenever it seems likely that there won't be enough text to make more than a short, unsatisfying stub otherwise. If the entry grows large enough to deserve splitting, that can always be done later. A useful heuristic is to create articles in a "downwards" order, that is, family articles first, then genera, then species. If you find that information is getting thin, or the family/genus is really small, just leave the species info inline in the family or genus article, don't try to force it down any further.

Taxonomy and referencesEdit

This is likely to be the single most difficult part of the project. Not only does arthropod taxonomy vary significantly from one authority to another, but it is in a state of constant change. There is no single authority to rely on; no one list can claim to be the list.

General referencesEdit


  • - Tree of Life website. This is slightly outdated already (it is not updated on a regular basis), and somewhat idiosyncratic at times, as a single person is often responsible for a given portion of the tree. The most problematic feature is that it uses a rankless classification - taxon names that do not have a place in the Linnaean hierarchy are regularly used in the TOL, because ranks are not assigned, and the only requirement is monophyly. In other words, taxon names appears in the TOL which have no counterpart of equivalent rank (e.g., "Macrolepidoptera" or "Aculeata"). This can make it very difficult to convert the TOL names into Wikipedia pages! If you can find a more recent, authoritative classification for a single order, this might sometimes be a better approach than trusting a generalized site such as this, and definitely better than trusting any popular sources, such as field guides or even college-level textbooks.

Secondary references:


  • Charles A. Triplehorn, Norman F. Johnson Borror and DeLong's introduction to the study of insects, 7th edition, Thomson Brooks/Cole, 2005 - Respectable but already somewhat outdated reference (there is a lag of several years between editing and printing) for insects, including Entognatha with keys to family. Keys also to family for arachnids and myriapods. The keys are for North America but can apply also to European arthropods.
  • Grimaldi, D., M.S. Engel. Evolution of the insects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, xv + 755 pp. 2005.

Specific referencesEdit

  • Lepidoptera references:
    • LEPINDEX. General consensus amongst Indian aurelians is that LEPINDEX, a project of the Natural History Museum at London, UK is THE reference to check Lepidoptera taxonomy. The site can be accessed at: [1]
    • HOST. Another project of the Natural History Museum is the database of larval foodplants of butterflies. You can search by butterfly_name, butterfly_family_name, plant_name, plant_family_name and country/region. Access it at: [2]
    • Another interesting taxonomy project from Finland! The gentleman, Markku Savela, uses perl scripts to generate rough distribution maps from the text data on distribution. The site is at: [3]
  • Hymenoptera references

CC-licensed publicationsEdit

Note:"Open Access" does not always mean "free to use". Media licensed "CC-BY" can be used without restriction, while "CC-BY-NC" or -ND (non-commerical or non-derivative) cannot be used on Wikipedia. (See Commons Licensing for more details)

Below are some publishers and journals that often have CC insect related content, but others exist. The text images in these journals are free to use on Wikipedia when authors are attributed, unless otherwise noted.

Article contentsEdit

The following items are desirable for articles of all levels, although the detail will vary depending on several factors. These items do not need to be separated into distinct sections; text should flow in continuous prose so far as possible. The order this information is included is also relatively unimportant, although the order listed is generally preferred.

  • Description (physical, behavioral) - what makes this (group of) critter(s) different from its close relatives? Include here evidence about cognitive capacities.
  • Habitat - where does it live? how broadly does it roam? maps are good
  • Cultural, Religious, Economic, etc. Importance - what impact has it had on humans? Include here use for experimental purposes that do not relate to other headings.
  • Classification - how does it fit into the tree of life?

Use a taxoboxEdit

Scarce swallowtail
Scientific classification  
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Papilionidae
Genus: Iphiclides
I. podalirius
Binomial name
Iphiclides podalirius

In general, each insect article should have a taxobox, a feature we inherited from the Tree of Life WikiProject. Using an automatic taxobox or speciesbox simplifies future maintenance as a taxon will automatically inherit its parents; see Template:Automatic taxobox and Template:Speciesbox. Manual taxoboxes (Template:Taxobox), which must be updated one-by-one if the higher taxonomy changes, are still available as well. There is an introduction to and step-by-step guide to using automatic taxoboxes, but see also the basic parameters below:

Automatic taxobox (for genera, families, and higher taxa):

{{Automatic taxobox
|authority=Hübner, 1819

Speciesbox (for species):

|authority=Linnaeus, 1758

Articles that may need attentionEdit

Minor housekeeping issues : Please add articles or stubs that you think need reviewing or expanding here:

MISSING INSECTS: Top 1,000 insects with no wikipage (ranked by # mentions in books; created Jan, 2015)

Adult (insect) - Help needed: Is this R from synonym?

Requested articles and photosEdit

Requested articles related to insects and other arthropods now have their own page: Wikipedia:WikiProject Arthropods/Article requests. Please put them there.

Photo requests can be made by adding |needs-photo=yes in the assessment template or using {{reqphoto|insecta}}.

You can see the list of photo requests for insects here.

If you'd like to contribute images to Wikipedia, the first place to search is Wikimedia Commons, for example Category:Insecta. Images may or may not be categorized, so a keyword search can sometimes be more fruitful than browsing categories. If you can't find a suitable image on Commons, other sources include CC-licensed journals (above) or Public Domain images. Searching the Biodiversity Heritage Library may yield images that have entered the public domain (e.g. first published in the United States before 1923, and/or whose creator died more than 70 years ago).

For a list of entomologists with biographies on other language Wikipedias missing an entry in English please see here.

Insect-related templates and categoriesEdit

Stub templatesEdit

Remember to mark up stubs with the appropriate template. Where specific templates do not exist, use {{insect-stub}}. Otherwise, see below.

Stub templates by order and familyEdit

Order Order templates Family templates
Archaeognatha (jumping bristletails) {{Archaeognatha-stub}}
Zygentoma (silverfish) {{Zygentoma-stub}}
Ephemeroptera (mayflies) {{mayfly-stub}}
Odonata {{damselfly-stub}}
Plecoptera (stoneflies) {{plecoptera-stub}}
Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets) {{orthoptera-stub}}
Embioptera (webspinners) {{embioptera-stub}}
Notoptera (ice crawlers, heel-walkers) {{notoptera-stub}}
Dermaptera (earwigs) {{earwig-stub}}
Phasmatodea (stick & leaf insects) {{phasmatodea-stub}}
Mantodea (mantids) {{mantodea-stub}} {{hymenopodidae-stub}} • {{mantidae-stub}} • {{tarachodidae-stub}}
Blattodea (termites, cockroaches) {{cockroach-stub}}
Zoraptera N/A use {{insect-stub}}
Thysanoptera (thrips) {{thrips-stub}}
Hemiptera (true bugs) use suborder template, see
Category:Hemiptera stubs
Psocoptera (lice, book lice, bark lice) {{psocoptera-stub}}
Coleoptera (beetles) {{beetle-stub}} {{adephaga-stub}} • {{polyphaga-stub}} • {{myxophaga-stub}} • {{archostemata-stub}} • (see subcategories for more specific taxonomic rankings)
Strepsiptera (twisted-wing parasites) {{strepsiptera-stub}}
Neuroptera (lacewings and kin) {{neuroptera-stub}}
Hymenoptera (sawflies, bees, wasps, ants) {{hymenoptera-stub}} {{ant-stub}} • {{bee-stub}} • {{wasp-stub}} • {{sawfly-stub}}
Trichoptera (caddisflies) {{trichoptera-stub}}
Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths) {{butterfly-stub}}
butterfly families: {{hesperiidae-stub}} • {{lycaenidae-stub}} • {{nymphalidae-stub}} • {{papilionidae-stub}} • {{pieridae-stub}} • {{riodinidae-stub}}

moth families: (see Category:Moth stubs for more specific taxonomic rankings)

Mecoptera (hangingflies, scorpionflies) {{mecoptera-stub}}
Siphonaptera (fleas) {{flea-stub}}
Diptera (flies) {{diptera-stub}} {{calliphoridae-stub}} • {{chironomidae-stub}} • {{chloropidae-stub}} • {{culicidae-stub}} • {{dolichopodidae-stub}} • {{drosophilidae-stub}} • {{heleomyzidae-stub}} • {{limoniidae-stub}} • {{muscidae-stub}} • {{stratiomyidae-stub}} • {{syrphidae-stub}} • {{tachinidae-stub}} • {{tephritidae-stub}} • {{tipulidae-stub}} • {{ulidiidae-stub}}

Other stub templatesEdit

Subject Template
Entomology {{entomologist-stub}}

Talk pages and grading schemeEdit

Please place {{WikiProject Insects}} at the top of an article's talk page so articles can be assessed. What this template does:

  1. It will help to lead new editors to this project.
  2. If complete with quality and importance grading (see Article classification and grading scheme), it helps us to stay on top of the huge number of insect-related articles.



Please make sure to add articles to the appropriate categories among the ones listed on Wikipedia:WikiProject Arthropods/Categories. If there are any categories that you think should be created, please request them here or on the talk page.

In some cases, there might be more appropriate ways to group articles than categories, such as lists or article series boxes. For more information, see Wikipedia:Categories, lists, and series boxes.

Featured contentEdit


Main tool page:
  • Reflinks - Edits bare references - adds title/dates etc. to bare references
  • Checklinks - Edit and repair external links
  • Dab solver - Quickly resolve ambiguous links.
  • Peer reviewer - Provides hints and suggestion to improving articles.

External watchlistEdit

  1. ^ "Entomological Society of America Common Names of Insects Database". Retrieved February 26, 2016.