Lepidoptera collection

Butterfly Papilio eryx Fabricius 1798

Papilio eryx Fabricius 1798


Thomas Pape

Collection managers

Anders Illum, Jan Pedersen & Sree Gayathree Selvantharan

About the collection

The Lepidoptera collection has a very good taxonomic coverage of northern and north-central Europe. The Palaeartic section include significant materials ofMediterranean micro-moths, while the Palaearctic butterfly section is particularly noteworthy for the Georg Christensen collection with its rich representation of Erebia. The material of Lepidoptera from Greenland and Madeira (all families) is exceptional.

The Afrotropical region is particularly well represented by collections of T. Larsen (W. African butterflies) and S.J.R. Birket-Smith (butterflies and moths from Cameroun, Nigeria and Ethiopia), as well as more recent collections of moths from Tanzania.

In the South American collection two components are particularly noteworthy: The collection of C.S.Larsen includes a rich material of Hesperiidae, Pieridae and most subfamilies of Nymphalidae (Charaxinae in particular). The truly comprehensive (also rich in micro-moths) material from austral South America collected by E.S. Nielsen, O. Karsholt and others ranks among the most important in the World for the region. The representation of the family Palaephatidae is outstanding, that of the Heterobathmiidae unique.

The representation of all families of primitive (non-ditrysian) Lepidoptera is extensive.

Three butterflies Hesperia nero Fabricius 1798

Hesperia nero Fabricius 1798

Taxonomical coverage

More that 95 % of species occurring in Denmark, Greenland and Madeira; coverage outside of these areas unknown, but variable.

Lepidoptera collection in numbers

  • Estimated number of specimens/collections: ca. 2,000,000 specimens
  • Types: About 500 described by I.C. Fabricius and 1,000+ described by others.
  • Digitally available specimens: ?
  • Percentage digitized: ?


  • Northern/north-central Europe
  • Greenland
  • Madeira
  • Austral South America
  • Non-ditrysian Lepidoptera

Important subcollections/specimens

  • Danish collection: about 1,000,000 specimens of more than 2,400 species. Covers material from the last 150 years collected all over Denmark.
  • Greenland collection: 9,223 specimens (65 species) representing all species found in Greenland.
  • Madeira: The largest and most comprehensive collection of the 320 species of Lepidoptera occurring on this island.
  • Austral South America: More than 30,000 specimens, with focus on the smaller species.
  • Microlepidoptera of the Mediterranean countries.