Correct authorship of the name Phalaena ricini and the nomenclatural status of the name Saturnia canningi (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae.

R. S. Peigler, J. V. Calhoun


The eri silkmoth (Samia ricini) is the third most important silk producer in the world. The moth exists only in captivity, having been artificially selected from a wild progenitor, generally recognized as Samia canningi (Hutton) of the Himalayas. In the taxonomic and sericultural literature, there has been considerable confusion and inconsistency regarding the correct authorship of the name Phalaena ricini as originally described. The author of P. ricini has most often been cited as Boisduval, but other researchers have attributed authorship to Anderson, Jones, Donovan, or Hutton. The original description was located, thus revealing that P. ricini should be credited to Sir William Jones. In turn, the date of publication fixes the name P. ricini as the senior subjective synonym for both the wild and cultivated entities, thereby forcing Saturnia canningi into synonymy.


Assam; eri silk; ericulture; India; Sir William Jones; wild silk

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