Finnish Museum of Natural History

Lauri Kaila

Senior Curator, Principal Investigator

Research topics

Publications and activities


Taxonomy of elachistid moths (Lepidoptera, Elachistidae)

Elachista elegans (Photo: Lauri Kaila/Luomus)

The aim of this research programme is to explore and document the species richness of the small-sized elachistid moths on world-wide basis. The work includes study of the known species and scientific description of new ones. Around 700 species are presently described, and several hundreds more are either already known or to be anticipated to be discovered when the little or entirely unstudied areas like China and Central America start to be explored. Elachistids belong the superfamily Gelechioidea, whose constituent species are often small, dull-coloured and similar to each others. Therefore they have not been as attractive as butterflies for amateurs’ passion.  


Phylogeny of moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera)

Butterfly (Photo: Lauri Kaila/Luomus)

Even though Lepidoptera is the most popular target of insect amateurs, as well as an important object for scientific studies and modelling, their phylogeny has been amazingly badly known. I am conducting, with colleagues and students, research aiming at resolving this question. The scale of the study spans from teh whole order to smaller units (superfamilies, families, genera). My main focus has been on the superfamily Gelechioidea that includes nearly 20.000 named species, with the real number manyfold, and according to some estimates perhaps close to 100.000. I have also participated studies on, e.g. owlet moths (Noctuoidea), loopers (Geometridae) and butterflies (Papilionoidea).

Person in charge of the page: 
Lauri Kaila