Microlepidoptera on Solanaceae

About the tool

Using the keys

live <em>Tenuipalpus</em>

Microlepidoptera on Solanaceae is centered on a matrix-based digital key developed with Lucid software. Details for using the key are provided below. For information on using the Lucid3 Player, please view the help files for the player, which can be accessed in the player or on the Information and Links page. The interactive key is quite different from traditional dichotomous keys. The user is recommended to consult the Best Practices on occasion to pick up new tips and tricks for using the interactive keys.


Use of the tool assumes that the user is familiar with insect identification to the level of order and preferably to the level of family in Lepidoptera. The attempted identification of a species that is not in fact included in the tool may lead to a spurious determination, especially among larvae. If in doubt, the user is referred to Stehr (1987) or similar higher-level keys (e.g. Peterson 1962, Chu and Cutkomp 1992). All citations are included in the References page.


This tool offers two options for using the keys: a key server version and a Java applet version. Please consult the System Requirements for more information on the two options. For the purposes of this page, the two types of keys operate essentially the same. Exceptions are noted below.

Note also that web pages such as fact sheets attached to items in Lucid3 keys may be considered pop-ups by certain browsers (such as Internet Explorer) when clicked on by users. If your browser blocks these pop-ups, you should allow pop-ups for this Lucid tool in your browser's Internet settings. Additionally, Internet Explorer may block "active content" on web pages or the Java applet keys. To allow active content in Internet Explorer, under Tools, Internet Options, Advanced tab, Security category, the box next to the setting "Allow active content to run in files on My Computer" should be checked. Additionally, certain settings under Tools, Internet Options, Security, Custom level, ActiveX controls and plug-ins, may need to be changed depending on your computer settings. You may also need to accept a security warning to run the applet.

The key

A Lucid key has four panels. The upper left window, Features Available, lists the features (characters) and states to choose from. The upper right window, Entities Remaining, lists the available species. The lower left window, Features Chosen, lists which feature states have been selected. The lower right window, Entities Discarded, lists the species that have been discarded based on the features that have been selected.

Many features are nested under other features, but the hierarchy eventually terminates with illustrated states. Open a feature by clicking on the “+” plus sign, and close with the minus “-.” Select a state by clicking on one of the images. The image appears in the Features Chosen frame. The images can be expanded by clicking in the image’s lower right corner. More than one state may be chosen at once. To deselect a state, click the image again in either frame so it is grayed out in the Features Chosen frame. Make sure that states are deselected before backtracking. As states are chosen, the list of Entities Remaining decreases.

Not all possible features are displayed immediately. Some features are scored as dependent on other characters so that they only appear if a particular other state is chosen. For example, under “Fibula,” the features “Shape of fibula” and “Position of fibula” do not appear unless the state “Present” is selected under “Presence.” Many other features are scored as scoped for subsets of species. These appear only when they are shared only by the remaining species. The result is a simpler list of features to choose from.

Besides dependencies and scopes, the user has freedom to choose features in any order. Lucid software includes a “Best” function that recommends features that most efficiently break down the remaining entities. It is accessed by the magic wand icon, and the best character unfolds in the Features Available frame.

Having arrived at an identification, compare to the fact sheets. If the species does not seem to match, it is possible to un-check states to go back, or to start from the beginning with the “Restart” key in the upper left corner of Lucid Player.

The terminology used in the key and species diagnoses are provided in the illustrated glossary. The abbreviated references in the fact sheets are cited fully in the references page.

Photographic images were produced by the authors unless indicated. Please see the copyright, citation, and disclaimers page for information about use of content on these pages and in the key.

For more hints on navigating the key, see the Best Practices page.