Centuria Insectorum

Centuria Insectorum
The first page of Centuria Insectorum, as included in Amoenitates Academicæ

Centuria Insectorum (Latin, "one hundred insects") is a 1763 taxonomic work by Carl Linnaeus, and defended as a thesis by Boas Johansson; which of the two men should be credited with its authorship has been the subject of some controversy. It includes descriptions of 102 new insect and crustacean species that had been sent to Linnaeus from British America, Suriname, Java and other locations. Most of the new names included in Centuria Insectorum are still in use, although a few have been sunk into synonymy, and one was the result of a hoax: a Common Brimstone butterfly with spots painted on was described as the new "species" Papilio ecclipsis.


The contents of the work were published twice, under two slightly different titles. Centuria Insectorum Rariorum ("one hundred rare insects") was published as a standalone thesis, while Centuria Insectorum was published as part of Linnaeus' series of Amoenitates Academicæ ("academic delights"). Both bear the date June 23, 1763, although the latter was printed later, in September 1763.[1]


Carl Linnaeus, the probable author of Centuria Insectorum

Since Centuria Insectorum Rariorum was a thesis presented and defended by one of Linnaeus' students, Boas Johansson (1742–1809) from Kalmar, it has been argued that authorship of the taxa named in it should be assigned to Johansson. The authorship, however, has been the subject of some controversy.[1]

Several lines of argument have been used to suggest that Linnaeus should be considered the author. The role of the person defending the thesis at Swedish universities at the time was to prove his command of Latin, and responsibility for the text of the thesis rested mainly, if not entirely, with the professor.[1] Linnaeus appeared to consider himself the author, referring in his later works to Amoenitates Academicæ without including an abbreviation for the author, as he did for works written by other people.[1] Works presented by students of other taxonomists of the era (such as Carl Peter Thunberg, Adam Afzelius and Elias Magnus Fries) are generally credited to their supervisors, and not the students themselves.[1] Finally, most zoologists, and "Scandinavian authorities on Linnaeana" consider Linnaeus the author;[1] in the interests of nomenclatural stability, it is preferable to continue doing so. The issue was raised in a petition to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature and, although a large majority voted in favour of recognising Linnaeus as the author, the one dissenting vote caused the commission to defer its decision.[2]


The specimens used by Linnaeus or Johansson in writing Centuria Insectorum include some provided by Dr Alexander Garden, a horticulturist from Charles Town in the Province of South Carolina,[3] by Carl Gustav Dahlberg in Suriname,[4] by Hans Johan Nordgren in Java,[5] and from the collection of Baron Charles De Geer from the Province of Pennsylvania.


The dissertation begins by discussing improvements that the Linnaean system of taxonomy has brought to the study of insects, before describing the new species.[6]

Brimstone hoax

Gonepteryx rhamni: a specimen with spots added was named Papilio ecclipsis in Centuria Insectorum

One of the species described in Centuria Insectorum was "Papilio ecclipsis". This was based on a specimen sent by William Charlton to James Petiver in 1702, who wrote: "It exactly resembles our English Brimstone Butterfly (R. Rhamni), were it not for those black spots and apparent blue moons on the lower wings. This is the only one I have seen."[7] Carl Linnaeus examined the butterfly, and named it Papilio ecclipsis in Centuria Insectorum Rariorum, including in his Systema Naturae from the 12th edition (1767) onwards.[7] It was not until 1793 that the hoax was discovered by Johan Christian Fabricius, who recognised that the dark patches had been painted on, and that the specimen was a common Brimstone butterfly (now called Gonepteryx rhamni). Although the curator at the British Museum "indignantly stamped the specimen to pieces" when he found out, William Jones created two replicas to replace the lost specimen.[7]


The 102 species described in Centuria Insectorum were divided into seven sections, broadly corresponding with modern insect orders. Exceptions are that thrips (Thysanoptera), mantises (Mantodea) and Orthoptera were included in the Hemiptera, dragonflies (Odonata) were included in the Neuroptera, and the section called "Aptera" contains crustaceans rather than insects in the modern sense. Most of the names introduced in Centuria Insectorum are still in use, albeit in different genera; in a few cases, it is not clear what animal the name refers to.[Note 1]


Lucanus capreolus, named in Centuria Insectorum as Scarabæus capreolus
Sitophilus oryzae, named in Centuria Insectorum as Curculio oryza
No. Name in Centuria... Status Current name
1 SCARABÆUS Tityus valid [8] Dynastes tityus
2 SCARABÆUS Molosſus [Note 2] valid [9] Catharsius molossus
3 SCARABÆUS ſurinamus synonym [10] Rutela lineola
4 SCARABÆUS capreolus valid [11] Lucanus capreolus
5 DERMESTES Gleditſiæ valid [12] Caryobruchus gleditsiae
6 DERMESTES bactris valid [13] Pachymerus bactris
7 CASSIDA ſpinifex valid [14] Acromis spinifex
8 CASSIDA bipuſtulata junior synonym [15] Stolas discoides
9 CASSIDA bicornis valid [16] Omocerus bicornis
10 CASSIDA leucophæa
11 COCCINELLA ſangvinea valid [17] Cycloneda sanguinea
12 COCCINELLA ſurinamenſis junior synonym [18] Aegithus clavicornis
13 CHRYSOMELA gibboſa valid [19] Gibbifer gibbosus
14 CHRYSOMELA undulata valid [20] Phyllocharis undulata
15 CHRYSOMELA caſtanea
16 CHRYSOMELA Gorteriæ valid [21] Cryptocephalus gorteriae
17 CHRYSOMELA octopunctata
18 CHRYSOMELA punctatiſſima
19 CURCULIO oryza valid [22] Sitophilus oryzae
20 CURCULIO ſurinamenſis valid [22] Curculio surinamensis
21 CANTHARIS bicolor valid [23][Note 3] Thonalmus bicolor
22 CICINDELA æquinoctialis valid [25] Pheropsophus aequinoctialis
23 CICINDELA carolina valid [26] Megacephala carolina
24 ELATER ligneus valid [27] Semiotus ligneus
25 MELOE Chryſomeloides valid [28] Nemognatha chrysomeloides
26 TENEBRIO Gigas [Note 4]


Stagmomantis carolina, named in Centuria Insectorum as Gryllus carolinus
Arilus cristatus, named in Centuria Insectorum as Cimex cristatus
No. Name in Centuria... Status Current name
27 GRYLLUS unicornis [Note 5] synonym [1][30] Empusa pennicornis
28 GRYLLUS carolinus valid [1] Stagmomantis carolina
29 GRYLLUS irroratus synonym [1] Stagmomantis carolina
30 GRYLLUS Lunus valid [1] Monachidium lunum
31 GRYLLUS Cinerarius synonym [1] Pterochroza ocellata
32 GRYLLUS brachypterus /
GRYLLUS necydaloides [Note 6]
valid /
junior synonym [31]
Pseudophasma brachypterum
33 GRYLLUS javanus junior synonym [1][32] Mecopoda elongata
34 GRYLLUS perſpicillatus valid [1] Ommatolampis perspicillata
35 GRYLLUS ſpinuloſus valid [1] Eugaster spinulosa
36 GRYLLUS ſuccinctus valid [1][33] Nomadacris succincta
37 GRYLLUS brevicornis valid [1] Metaleptea brevicornis
38 GRYLLUS convolutus valid [1] Miogryllus convolutus
39 CICADA flammea valid [34] Zanna flammea
40 CICADA truncata valid [34] Oryxa truncata
41 CIMEX ictericus valid [35] Euschistus ictericus
42 CIMEX criſtatus valid [36] Arilus cristatus
43 CIMEX ſcaber valid [37] Acanthocoris scaber
44 CIMEX ſuccinctus valid [36] Largus succinctus
45 CIMEX hæmorrhous valid [38] Leptoscelis haemorrhous
46 CIMEX nobilis valid [39] Calliphara nobilis
47 COCCUS capenſis valid [40] Conchaspis capensis
48 TRIPS paradoxa valid [41] Thrips paradoxa


Amathusia phidippus, named in Centuria Insectorum as Papilio phidippus
Anartia jatrophae, named in Centuria Insectorum as Papilio Jatrophæ
Argynnis hyperbius, named in Centuria Insectorum as Papilio Hyperbius
Manduca sexta, named in Centuria Insectorum as Sphinx sexta
No. Name in Centuria... Status Current name
49 PAPILIO Ægiſthus junior synonym [5][42] Graphium agamemnon
50 PAPILIO Polydorus valid [5][42] Atrophaneura polydorus
51 PAPILIO Orontes valid [5] Alcides orontes
52 PAPILIO Phidippus valid [5][42] Amathusia phidippus
53 PAPILIO Medon valid [5] Euphaedra medon
54 PAPILIO Mneme valid [5] Melinaea mneme
55 PAPILIO Ædea valid [5] Eterusia aedea
56 PAPILIO Melite valid [43] Enantia melite
57 PAPILIO Scylla valid [5][42] Catopsilia scylla
58 PAPILIO Polybe valid [5] Atlides polybe
59 PAPILIO Philea valid [5] Phoebis philea
60 PAPILIO Philomela valid [5][42] Ypthima philomela
61 PAPILIO Electo valid [5] Colias electo
62 PAPILIO Helcita valid [5] Aletis helcita
63 PAPILIO Idea valid [5][42] Idea idea
64 PAPILIO Strilidore nomen dubium [5] unknown
65 PAPILIO Eurydice valid [5] Satyrodes eurydice
66 PAPILIO Demophile valid [5] Itaballia demophile
67 PAPILIO ecclipſis hoax[7] Gonepteryx rhamni
68 PAPILIO Canace valid [5] Kaniska canace
69 PAPILIO Hypermneſtra valid [5][42] Elymnias hypermnestra
70 PAPILIO Talaus junior synonym [5] Entheus priassus
71 PAPILIO Ariadne valid [5][42] Ariadne ariadne
72 PAPILIO Atlites valid [5] Junonia atlites
73 PAPILIO Jatrophæ valid [5] Anartia jatrophae
74 PAPILIO Dido valid [5] Philaethria dido
75 PAPILIO Hyperbius valid [5][42] Argynnis hyperbius
76 PAPILIO Cydippe junior homonym; rejected [42][Note 7] Cethosia cydippe
77 PAPILIO Peleus junior synonym [5] Entheus priassus
78 PAPILIO Actorion valid [5] Bia actorion
79 PAPILIO Arcius valid [5] Rhetus arcius
80 PAPILIO Augias valid [5][42] Telicota augias
81 SPHINX ſexta valid [44] Manduca sexta
82 PHALÆNA gangis valid [45] Creatonotos gangis
83 PHALÆNA Phalonia valid [46] Eudocima phalonia
84 PHALÆNA heteroclita nomen dubium [47] Enantia melite?


Rhyothemis variegata, named in Centuria Insectorum as Libellula variegata
No. Name in Centuria... Status Current name
85 LIBELLULA carolina valid [48] Tramea carolina
86 LIBELLULA variegata valid [49] Rhyothemis variegata
87 HEMEROBIUS pectinicornis valid [50] Chauliodes pectinicornis


Dolichovespula maculata, named in Centuria Insectorum as Vespa maculata
No. Name in Centuria... Status Current name
88 SIREX columba valid [51] Tremex columba
89 SPHEX penſylvanica valid [52] Sphex pensylvanicus
90 SPHEX cærulea junior homonym of Sphex caerulea Linnaeus, 1758 (= Entypus caeruleus)[53] Chalybion californicum [52]
91 VESPA maculata valid [54] Dolichovespula maculata
92 VESPA quadridens valid [55] Monobia quadridens
93 VESPA annularis valid [56] Polistes annularis
94 FORMICA binodis [Note 8] junior synonym [57] Tetramorium caespitum


No. Name in Centuria... Status Current name
95 ASILUS æſtuans valid [58] Efferia aestuans


Ucides cordatus, named in Centuria Insectorum as Cancer cordatus
No. Name in Centuria... Status Current name
96 CANCER Dormia valid [59] Dromia dormia
97 CANCER Vocans [Note 9] valid [59] Uca vocans
98 CANCER cordatus valid [59] Ucides cordatus
99 CANCER epheliticus valid [59] Hepatus epheliticus
100 CANCER paraſiticus nomen dubium [59] Tumidotheres maculatus?
101 CANCER filiformis nomen dubium [60] Caprella lobata?
102 ONISCUS linearis valid [61] Idotea linearis

Further reading

Cercophonius squama.jpg Arthropods portal


  1. ^ Linnaeus' orthography has been preserved here as far as possible, including the use of ſ – the long s.
  2. ^ Scarabæus Molosſus was previously included in the 10th edition of Systema Naturae (1758).
  3. ^ At least two other species have been named "Cantharis bicolor". Cantharis bicolor Panzer, 1797 is a synonym of Cantharis pallida Goeze, 1777, while Cantharis bicolor Herbst, 1784 is a synonym of Cantharis thoracica (Olivier, 1790).[24]
  4. ^ Linnaeus later named a species Tenebrio gigas in the 12th edition of Systema Naturae (1767), but corrected it to Tenebrio gages in the erratum.[29] That species is now Blaps gages, which may be synonymous with Blaps kollari Seidlitz.
  5. ^ Linnaeus later referred to this species as Mantis pectinicornis.[1]
  6. ^ Appears as "GRYLLUS brachypterus" in Centuria Insectorum Rariorum and as "GRYLLUS necydaloides" in Centuria Insectorum.
  7. ^ Papilio cydippe Linnaeus, 1763 is a junior homonym of Papilio cydippe Linnaeus, 1761, both of which are rendered invalid by the preservation of Papilio cydippe Linnaeus, 1767.[42]
  8. ^ Formica binodis Fabricius, 1775 is a different species, now called Messor barbarus.[57]
  9. ^ Appears as "CANCER Vocaus" in Centuria Insectorum Rariorum; both versions include an autoreference to the 10th edition of Systema Naturae.


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