Although the Eastern Caribbean (see map) is a relatively politically stable area and has a strong colonial and post-independence history of natural history study, such work - as elsewhere in the tropics - has concentrated on the plants, vertebrates and showier invertebrates such as the butterflies. Cataloguing of the other, less glamorous, invertebrates which constitute the vast majority of terrestrial animal species is still at an early stage. Given that more than 70% of all animal species are insects; 10% of all animal species are moths (and up to 40% of all animal species are beetles !) this is a major gap in the species inventory of these islands. On the basis of the limited work to date it appears likely that the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, including the Grenadines, harbour many more terrestrial invertebrate species than had been imagined. Many may be 'new' species, undescribed to science, and may be endemic to these islands - and appear likely to go extinct before they are even catalogued. For a long time the 'sunkissed golden beaches' image of the Caribbean has hampered funding of serious science in this area and it is only very recently that the Caribbean has been accorded its correct status as a world bidiversity 'hotspot', harbouring a high proportion of the world's plant and animal species in proportion to its total land area.

This preliminary catalogue is based on the moths collected by Matthew Barnes during a brief stay in the Grenadines (Union Is.) in 1994/95; specimens subsequently sent to him by Jacques Daudin, a long-term resident of Union Island, and the moths collected by the Exeter University (UK) Grenadines Expedition of 1984/85 . The latter student expedition collected moths in all the islands of the Grenadines (see map) for two months in 1984/85 - their extensive collection has been kindly given to me on permanent loan by Dr. David Stradling of Exeter University and is an invaluable resource in a region where next-to-nothing has been published on the local insect fauna (see publications).

Work is currently in hand on a more comprehensive website on the moths of all of the Eastern Caribbean, based on extensive moth collection on all of the islands between Anguilla and Grenada by M.J.C. Barnes throughout the 1990's. The latter is anticipated to appear sometime in 2002, but in the meantime this website on Grenadine Moths should cover many species also found in other islands of the Eastern Caribbean. The remarkable pioneering website on the Moths of the French Antilles by Bernard Lalanne-Cassou and colleagues at INRA in Paris is an invaluable resource for the region and has been the inspiration for much of my own work.

Identifications on this website have been made with the help of various specialists (see acknowledgements) in an effort to establish a very preliminary inventory of Grenadines moths and enable their identification for the first time without recourse to museum specimens or overseas specialists. Although the total number of species in a given area can never be known exactly, work to date suggests that of the order of 200 species of larger moth may be present in the islands of the Grenadines (just over 120 species being catalogued in this work). Although more than one in every ten animal species on earth is a moth, and the general biodiversity of the new world tropics is incredibly high, there are very few publications on the moths and other insects of the Antilles and the neotropics generally - especially colour identification guides (a notable exception is the butterflies, covered for the whole West Indies by Riley (1975) and Smith, Miller & Miller (1994)). A major purpose of this catalogue and similar internet catalogues (see links) is therefore to stimulate further interest in the study of the invertebrate land fauna of the Eastern Caribbean and elsewhere in the neotropics, which often languishes - especially among the young - for lack of appropriate reference works. An entomological equivalent of the excellent 'Flora of the Lesser Antilles' (see publications) is long overdue. Due to the aforementioned 'sunkissed golden beaches', ecosystems throughout the Caribbean are under increasing pressure from tourism, as well as from general population growth. It is hence also vital to document the biodiversity of these small islands accurately so that precise data can be added to arguments put forward by the growing pro-conservation movement as to which sites are in special need of protection.