All living things are given a scientific classification depending on their own individual characteristics. This is the science of Taxonomy and it is a long and complicated process that is best left to the experts to explain. It involves very detailed study of an individual organism, looking for characteristics that may bear a relationship to other organisms, determining where it appears to fit into the big scheme of things, and eventually coming up with an acceptable name. That is an extremely simplified explanation to say the least.
Most people, if they don't use the common name, only use the genus and species name. The species name is like our given name and several species can fall into the same genus. To put it another way, my species name is Nick and I belong to the genus Monaghan. In scientific terms, my name would be Monaghan nick (usually always displayed in italics, a capital letter to begin the genus, no capitals in the species name). A group of genera (plural of genus) make up a tribe, a group of tribes make up a subfamily, and so it goes on until you end up with the following order, from bottom to top:
species - genus - tribe - subfamily - family - superfamily - micropicoorder - hyperpicoorder - megapicoorder - gigapicoorder - microorder - infraorder - suborder - order - class - phylum - kingdom
There is no way on earth I am going to get involved in all of that. I'll just try to stick to the basics - species, genus, family, occasionally subfamily, and order. I am not getting paid to do this, so I don't need to get too carried away.
As I mentioned in the Ground Rules section, I have based a lot of the identifications on information obtained from books, web sites, cd-roms and advice from other people. I did this on the understanding that some of the names given may occasionally be incorrect or obsolete. The science of Taxonomy is constantly evolving and as such, names can and do undergo changes as new information and discoveries come to light.
There are something like 86,000 named species of insects in Australia alone, and those yet to be named may be at least that number again. It is estimated that there may be over 10,000 Australian spider species, of which only about 2,500 have been named. That said, it is possible that I haven't been able to identify some of the creatures in my photos because they don't actually have a formal name yet.
When I first took up this hobby, I was very naive and a little confused. Now, after a year of personal study, I am a little naive and very confused. What have I got myself into?! If there is one positive to be gained, it is that there is always something new to learn.