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Prosopocoilus mohnikei pseudospineus

ahh, yes, this is the lovely Prosopocoilus mohnikei pseudospineus which i found in Thailand...not present in Hong Kong. So why am I writing about it? well.....this lovely beetle does not appear to have a common name.....and i wrote the following for my book on bugs...(FYI I found 10 copies, so these are the last, and let me know if you would like to buy one, never to be reprinted).

WHY SCIENTIFIC NAMES ARE IMPORTANT, BUT COMMON NAMES ARE USEFUL This argument mainly stems from the fact I don’t say, “Eureka, look at that rapacious Blatella germinca, masticating something incognitos” but instead I say, “Woah, what’s that cockroach eating?” which is probably understood by more people. I’ve always found an unwavering scientific attitude somewhat pretentious, and counterproductive for people starting out on a journey of bug discovery. This book is really for kids and the layman in the hope of stirring their interest to learn more about our natural world. I thought to keep things simple, but also accurate, I should include both common and Latin/scientific names. The thing about common names is that they may very well likely depend on where you live and only ever given to species that are, well, common, or important, or large, or interesting, or pests. So, all butterflies may have common names, but smaller, less studied species—like many tiny beetles—may not. Each country may also name a species in its own language, and this highlights the main problem with vernacular (common) names; anyone can call any animal anything they like, and not be wrong. There is no universally accepted global body/authority for vernacular animal names (not the case for scientific animal names where the ICZN is the internationally recognised authority and keeper of the definitive listing of animal names “The Code" which is overseen by the heavily armed Dr Doomononic—OK, I made that last bit up. If you are ever dealing with an expert in their field, you can be sure that they will use scientific names, as they are so familiar with them and use them daily. Layman, like you and I, will always struggle with these classifications and names. I mean who could ever say, "look is that Parastratiosphecomyia stratiosphecomyioides?" This species of fly has the longest insect name in the world. So, as you begin this rabbit hole of bug—or animal—discovery, you will find that if you ever really want to nail down and confirm a particular species (e.g. for a scientific study), then you would need to use the Latin name and the binomial naming system (remember, each species is given a name that consists of two parts; the first part is the genus to which the species belongs, and the second part is the species's individual name). So, Latin names, OK? All clear? Er, no. There is a huge caveat. Just when you think you have it all figured out, you learn that all these classifications are proposed and determined by practising taxonomists who often disagree and take different positions. There may be no broad consensus across the scientific community for some time (see weevils, for example). And then the publishing of new data and opinions often makes adjustments to the classifications, so just when you thought you had a bug’s Latin name memorised, someone tells you “oh, that changed to XXXXXXX” last month/year/Sunday. And of course, there is always the difficulty in getting the ID with bugs down to a species level from a genus level, as many are so similar and would need dissection, a microscope and years of learning to tell apart. So, in conclusion, scientific names are important because they allow people throughout the world to communicate unambiguously about species. Don't be intimated by scientific names, or discouraged about the difficulty of trying to pronounce the words. But, for me, “American cockroach” works well for now when I am out on walks and want to point something out to friends or other people. For an extreme example on common name usage, look at the common names for (what I call) a woodlouse, or woodlice, that vary all over the world. See them all on page 292.


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