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Entomological collections

Department code: MZLU

With 3.8 million databased specimens and with a large number remaining to be registered, the entomological collections are one of the largest in the Nordic countries, and they are very important both nationally and internationally. The collections include among other things the second oldest insect collection in the world, donated by Kilian Stobaeus in 1735.

Mounted beetles. Photo.

The collections contain all kinds of insects, from the smallest parasitic wasps, less than 1 millimetre in length, to the largest insects – for example, moths with a wingspan that extends over 30 centimetres. The material is mainly from Sweden but comprises insects from all over the world, including extensive material from South Africa and Sri Lanka. The collections are the result of donations, scientific expeditions, collections by museum staff, and purchases.

They include a main collection, where the majority of the specimens are kept; historic collections, mainly from the 19th century; a wet collection, including a lot of unidentified material preserved in alcohol; a slide collection; a reference collection with identified Swedish specimens; and a type collection that includes the original reference specimens for described species.

The main area of use is research, but some specimens are also used for more general purposes, like public displays. The insects and the information connected to them, from the past to the present, are useful for research in biodiversity. Specimens in the collections have been used in several thousand scientific publications, for example, the monographs on the beetles and wasps of Scandinavia by C.G. Thomson, and the monograph on the insects of Lapland by J.W. Zetterstedt – both published in the 19th century.


The largest part of the dry-mounted collection. All specimens are sorted into order, family and species. Over seventy per cent of the material comes from the Nordic countries and is kept separate from the non-Nordic material.

This collection is used for identifying species and consists of a few specimens of each species occurring in the Nordic countries. At present this collection covers Lepidoptera and Coleoptera, and parts of Hymenoptera, Diptera, Hemiptera, Orthoptera, Odonata, Plecoptera and Neuroptera. The collection has been assembled to simplify the identification for amateurs and students.

In this collection, unmounted specimens are kept in alcohol. It contains both identified and unidentified specimens, as well as unsorted material.

The identified material is sorted by order and contains for example a type collection of Collembola. Other orders that are represented are Diptera, Coleoptera, Trichoptera, Hymenoptera, Siphonaptera and Phthiraptera.

The collection also has unidentified material from museum research expeditions, such as the Ceylon-Expedition 1962 by Per Brinck, Hugo Andersson and Lennart Cederholm, and the Swedish South Africa-Expedition 1950-51 by Per Brinck and Gustav Rudebeck. There are also donations from collecting in Sweden and worldwide, such as the material from Lars Huggert in Canada and Bo W. Svensson in Stampenbäcken, Scania, Sweden. There are also smaller collections made by museum staff and donations from different research projects as well as amateur collectors.

Registration of this collection is in progress, for easy access to specific material.

The historical collections, mainly from the 1800s (collected by C.G. Thomson, J.W. Zetterstedt, A.G. Dahlbom and C.F. Fallén) are kept separate, many of them in their original cabinets. Also, some recent collections are kept in their cabinets. We are currently digitizing these by making images of whole drawers.

The type material is kept separate. At present, the collection hosts 17.000 type specimens of 4.300 species. Several thousand remain to be registered, among these a large number of types from the historical collections.

At the moment we do not publish a separate database on types, but they are all listed in the common database.

To name a few examples there are the slides of Lepidoptera genitalia made by Ingvar Svensson, and a large collection of Siphonaptera, probably the largest in the Nordic countries.

Digitalised collections

At the museum, we currently run a digitising project financed by external funds. The project is to photo document our older entomological collections which contain a lot of type specimens. The documentation, consisting of high-resolution pictures of each drawer, makes it possible to search the collections. These pictures also represent historical documentation of the status of these collections at the time the photos were taken, making it possible to backtrack the number of specimens and their placement in each drawer.

The project also includes the photo documentation of the primary types in these collections. In many cases, such photos are enough to establish species affiliation and to avoid the risks associated with the shipping of material we regard an examination of these photos as the first option.

We publish all pictures on the image service Flickr and are they are free to use for non-commercial purposes (Attribution-NonCommercial).

All these links lead to the image service Flickr.

Donate material

Our collections continually expand with new material, and a very large part of these new accessions are donations from private collectors. This new material is very important for the documentation and exploration of our insect fauna, and we make sure that it is taken well care of and kept safely. This way the material becomes available for both scientists and non-scientists who wish to work with the material or use it as a reference. The size of newly acquired material varies from one year to another, for instance in 2013 we received almost 200.000 specimens, all from private collectors.

If you have material that you would like the museum to take care of, please contact the museum staff.

Important collectors

  • Kjell Ander (1902–1992)
  • Hugo Andersson (1927–2008
  • Per Benander (1884–1976)
  • Simon Bengtsson (1860–1939)
  • Knut Henrik Bonde (1785–1803)
  • Per Brinck (1919–2013)
  • Gunvor Brinck-Lindroth (1926–2013)
  • Nils Bruce (1883–1981)
  • Nils Burrau (1887–1980)
  • Anders Gustaf Dahlbom (1806–1859)
  • Roy Danielsson
  • Carl Fredrik Fallén (1764–1830)
  • Gösta Gillerfors (1923–2013)
  • Anton C. Jansson (1880–1963)
  • Nils Alarik Kemner (1887–1948)
  • Bengt Olof Landin (1925–2006)
  • Knut Lindberg
  • Carl H. Lindroth (1905–1979)
  • Frithiof Nordström (1882–1971)
  • Frej Ossiannilsson (1908–1995)
  • Thure Palm (1894–1987)
  • Karlis Princis (1893–1978)
  • Helge Rambring (1916–1968)
  • Oscar Ringdahl
  • Harry Rydén (1902–1984)
  • Kilian Stobaeus (1690–1742)
  • Andreas Strand (1895–1980)
  • Arne S. Sundholm (1907–1972)
  • Ingvar Svensson Österlöv (1919–2011)
  • Erik Tham (1920–2006)
  • Carl Gustaf Thomson (1824–1899)
  • Carl-Gustav Walhström (1918–1993)
  • Hans D.J. Wallengren (1823–1894)
  • Sune Wendel (1903–1981)
  • Gustaf Winblad (1893–1968)
  • Johan Wilhelm Zetterstedt (1785–1874)
A person is sitting looking in a microscope. Photo.

Search in our entomological collections


Number of citations including our entomological collections on the Global Biodiversity Information Facility's (GBIF) website (new tab).