Collecting insects in Taiwan

Geoff Martin manages the Natural History Museum’s butterflies and moths collection. Journey with him in this video to Taiwan on one of his insect-collecting expeditions.

Despite trying to collect insects in the middle of a typhoon, Geoff and his team manage to get samples of exciting specimens to study back at the Museum, and possibly some new species.

The project

This rhinoceros beetle, Xylotrupes gideon ssp. kaszabi, is an endemic subspecies to Lanyu Island, Ta

This rhinoceros beetle, Xylotrupes gideon ssp. kaszabi, is an endemic subspecies to Lanyu Island, Taiwan.

The main reason for this project is to develop the Museum's specimen collections. Geoff and his colleagues need to collect insects from an area of the world that is high in endemic (native) species but poorly represented in the Museum collections.

The team collected specimens in three areas in Taiwan, Tai Chung (upland), Kenting (coastal plain, extreme south-east) and Lanyu Island (a small island east of Kenting with many endemic species).

In this trip Geoff's team collected 15,000 specimens, including many from the three major insect orders, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera and Lepidoptera. The numbers of specimens collected seems high but the overall impact is extremely low as the area is very rich in terms of numbers of individuals. To put it into perspective, an average bat could eat around 3,000 insects a night.