Jamaica, an island of 4,411 sq mi. (11,415 km2), is the third largest island of the Greater Antilles, in the Caribbean sea (see map). Although a relatively politically stable country (with the usual colonial and post-independence history of natural history study) such work - as elsewhere - has concentrated on the plants, vertebrates and showier invertebrates such as the butterflies. Cataloguing of the other , less glamorous, invertebrates which make up the vast majority of terrestrial animal species is still at an early stage (see history of moth collecting in Jamaica).

This catalogue is based on the moths collected during a year spent in Jamaica by Matthew Barnes, between 1987 and 1988, plus records which he has subsequently found in the literature or been given by other researchers. Identifications have been made with the help of various specialists (see acknowledgements) in an effort to establish a very preliminary inventory of Jamaican moths. Although the total number of species in a given area can never be known exactly, work to date suggests that of the order of 1,000 species of moth may be present in Jamaica. 730 species are catalogued here, of which just short of 500 species are illustrated. As elsewhere in the Greater Antilles, endemism is astonishingly high with up to 40% of all Jamaican moth species being found nowhere else on earth.

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 Jamaica by Brown & Heinemann (1972) and for the whole West Indies by Riley (1975) and Smith, Miller & Miller (1994)). It is hoped that this and similar internet catalogues (see links) may help to stimulate interest in the biodiversity of lepidoptera other than butterflies, and of other insects generally - not merely of Jamaica but of other parts of the Caribbean and neotropics.

All images on this website were scanned in directly using a JVC TK-C1380E video camera, video capture board and home-built shadow-free lighting rig.