Lepidoptera collections

The Natural History Museum’s collections of Lepidoptera contain approximately 8,712,000 specimens in 80,000 drawers.

The Museums extensive Lepidoptera collection is rich in type specimens and held in two separate collections, British and International.

The collections moved in 2009 to a purpose-built facility,  the Darwin Centre 2 building, where they continue to be accessible to today’s international community of researchers.

International collection

The international collection holds extremely important type material of Lepidoptera, some dating back to the 18th century.

It is comprehensive in its coverage but parts of the world that are particularly well represented are:

  • Africa
  • India
  • South-East Asia
  • Australia

This collection includes taxa described by Bates, Bethune-Baker, Boisduval, Butler, Evans, Fabricius, Felder, Fruhstorfer, Hampson, Inoue, Jordan, Leech, Meyrick, Oberthur, Prout, Rothschild, Walker, Walsingham, Wileman, and Zeller.

British collections

Pinned material collected in the UK is currently kept in a separate British Lepidoptera Collection, and includes donations from important collectors of the 20th and 21st centuries such as:

  • Bankes
  • Chalmers-Hunt
  • Cockayne
  • Emmet
  • Ford
  • Goater
  • Jacobs
  • Kettlewell
  • Rothschild
  • Stainton
  • Stephens
  • Watson
  • West 

A synoptic reference collection of all British Lepidoptera is also available and can be examined in the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity.

Hummingbird hawkmoth
Lepidoptera research

Lepidoptera contain butterflies and moths. Learn about our research in their fascinating evolution. 

Contact us

Entomology collections team

Contact the entomology collections team with scientific enquiries about the collections.

Morpho cypris, blue morpho

Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that contains moths and butterflies. Immerse yourself in the colourful and vibrant world of these amazing creatures.