Lepidoptera collections

Colias croceus

Colias croceus

The Museum’s Lepidoptera collection is one of the oldest, largest and certainly the most type rich.

The collection contains 12.5 million pinned specimens and one million papered specimens housed in 80,000 drawers. There are 125,000 type specimens.

The Lepidoptera specimens are divided into two separate collections, British/Irish and international. 

International collection

The collection is comprehensive in its geographical coverage. Particularly well represented areas include:

  • Africa
  • India
  • Southeast Asia
  • Australasia

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 and Irish collection

Includes collections from Bankes, Chalmers-Hunt, Cockayne, Emmet, Ford, Goater, Jacobs, Kettlewell, Rothschild, Stainton, Stephens, Watson and West.

Material types

Specimens are carefully preserved in a variety of ways:

  • dried specimens mounted on pins - the majority of adult Lepidoptera
  • microscope slides - dissected body parts (e.g. genitalia), wing preparations or whole bodies
  • preserved in fluid, especially Lepidoptera larvae

Looking for a specimen?

The Lepidoptera collection is being digitised

Any questions ?

If you would like to use any specimens for research   

Lepidoptera collections team

Senior Curator in Charge

Geoff Martin

Senior Curator

Blanca Huertas


Alessandro Giusti


Alberto Zilli


David Lees

British reference collection

A British reference collection can be found at the Angela Marmount Centre for UK Biodiversity

Accessing the collections

Scientists and collections management specialists can visit the collections and borrow specimens for research.

Insect division

Our scientists are conserving the Museum's vast insect collection, collecting and identifying new species and utilizing the collections for cutting edge entomological research.

Collections management

Our duty is to provide a safe and secure environment for all of our collections.

Collections on the move

We have set out on an ambitious programme to develop a new science and digitisation centre. As we prepare for the move, access to some collections will be affected. 

Find out more and sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on changes to collections access, relevant news and opportunities to get involved.