Insect species database?
October 2, 2013 5:27 PM   Subscribe

Is there a database of insect scientific names and their taxonomy available somewhere for free? For example Streptocerus speciosus - Family: Lucanidae - Order: Coleoptera. I'm hoping to avoid downloading wikipedia and crawling through it.
posted by Memo to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Something like this?
posted by unknowncommand at 5:48 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Tree of Life Web Project might work for you. You'll still need to wade through it, but all the information is there.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 5:49 PM on October 2, 2013

I think you can get this from ITIS (cached:, but it's unfortunately unavailable right now because there are 535 monkeys flinging shit at each other somewhere north of Virginia.
posted by jquinby at 5:52 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are you looking for all insects everywhere? If not, Bugguide can do this for North America.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:31 PM on October 2, 2013

You can browse the NCBI taxonomy starting here. If you're thinking about doing some sort of automated data processing (just guessing because of your reference to crawling wikipedia) you can download the data here.

I have spent many happy days slicing and dicing this type of data, so feel free to mefimail me with what you're trying to do and I will see if I can help.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:41 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Bear in mind, though, that a) any one insect taxonomy (i.e. the list of objects) is incomplete relative both to all insects and also to all insects we know about; b) that different taxonomies are incongruent (i.e. the names for object A in ITIS and NCBI might be different or that name A in ITIS and name A in NCBI might refer to different objects) and c) that object A can be renamed object B over time. There are more wrinkles than this. The process is formalised in the ICZN if you want to delve into it, and does not lend itself to automated matching of information or perfectly reconciling taxonomies that have already been published.

Sorry if you know some or all of this, but it's horribly common for people embarking on a database project to assume its easy until they hit an obscure edge case and realise their schema isn't fit for purpose.

For many purposes, of course, none of this matters. That's rather the point.
posted by cromagnon at 4:28 PM on October 3, 2013

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