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From before World War II the staff of the Entomology Department of the NHM created, and then added to, a series of taxonomic reference cards, one for every species taken into the collections. By a quirk of fate and the persistence of the curators, especially the late Michael Shaffer, the index cards of the microlepidoptera were kept up to date even after indexing was abandoned by official edict in 1981. As the pyralid index cards were the most up to date, they were chosen, in the early 2000's, for computerisation. The result is a seminal online source of taxonomic information, the LepIndex.   This is publicly available free of charge through 'Viadocs', a joint project between the Department of Electronic Systems Engineering at the University of Essex and the Lepidoptera Section of the Entomology Department of the NHM. By 2005 all the information on the 1,211 record cards for the Thyridoidea had been entered into LepIndex VIADOCS database and - a considerable bonus - both sides of the index card had been imaged so that the actual card contents can be studied, making this a genuine primary source. 


This is the link:


You cannot search for an individual species from this website, you have go to the above site 1st



It should be noted that these index cards contain much important data that is not formally published and therefore cannot be quoted as accepted taxonomic revisions (including many unpublished name combinations, synonymies and even new subfamily placements). Such changes were usually noted by Shaffer in pencil on the index cards. Some of these ‘manuscript changes’ written on the cards may have  been published subsequently, but many taxonomic changes proposed in recent scientific papers or in important regional checklists such as the Atlas of Neotropical Lepidoptera (125 parts directed by J.B. Heppner (part published, parts in preparation)) and the Checklist of Australian Lepidoptera (Nielsen et al., 1996) are not incorporated into the LepIndex.


VIADOCS was a very promising start at bringing NHM species data into the digital age and making it publicly available and it is therefore very regrettable that this incomparable resource appears frozen in time. Currently there is no funding  to enable long term continual update of the LepIndex. 

Usage of data from the LepIndex should be acknowledged using the following format: ‘Beccaloni, G. W., Scoble, M. J., Robinson, G. S. & Pitkin, B. (Editors). 2003. The Global Lepidoptera Names Index (LepIndex). World Wide Web electronic publication. http://www.nhm.ac.uk/entomology/lepindex [accessed 6 January 2007*]’ [* Give the precise date of use of LepIndex].