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The insect collection

The insect collection at the Gothenburg Museum of Natural History contains several million examples of insects from many parts of the world. The collection makes up a unique knowledge bank from which we can see how insect fauna has changed since the early 1800's.

The coleoptera collection

This collection contains nearly one million beetles. The main collection, which only includes Swedish species, is one of the largest in the country in terms of individual specimens. Almost all of Sweden’s 4,300 beetles are represented. The oldest material is from the mid-1800's.

A large part of the material in the main collection comes from the museum’s soil fauna inventory, which was carried out from the 1920s until 1981. The main collection method was sieving soil, but some netting and other methods were used. This has meant that certain families of ground living beetles are very well represented, such as Carabidae (ground beetles) and Staphylinidae (rove beetles).

Much material has been received by donations from private collectors, as well as active collection by museum staff. In addition to the main collection, there are many collections with varied specimens from Sweden and other parts of the world.

mong the older collections we find Olof Fåhræus’s collection from the beginning of the 1800s and Carl H. Lindroth’s comprehensive collection of ground beetles. Two other significant collections are those of I. B. Ericson and Emil Sandin from around the beginning of the 1900's.

Much of the material has not yet been reviewed and systematically arranged. 

The Nordic lepidoptera collection

The museum's collection of Nordic butterflies and moths consists of more than 100,000 mounted items. The distribution on an individual basis between large and small butterflies is around 70/30. The collection, which is housed in 27 cabinets with a total of 862 drawers, is systematically organised.

The collection has a strong emphasis on material from West Sweden and in particular the region around Gothenburg. Most of the work was carried out by Joseph Schulz, who was employed as preparator at the department in the 1950s and who collected and mounted many of the large butterflies himself.

Other collections incorporated in the main collection with many butterflies from the west coast and Gothenburg have been donated by S. Langert, C. Eliasson, E. Djurvall, J. Jonasson and A. Lewin, among others. The last-named collection was very comprehensive and was particularly important since it contained a large proportion of micro moths, which were otherwise poorly represented.


The main Swedish collection of Swedish True bugs contains approximately 80,000 specimens, for the most part identified by C. C. Coulianos. In addition to all the animals collected during the soil fauna inventory, some older material is represented, including waterbugs collected by A. W. Malm and the A. Jansson collection.


The museum also has a large collection of hymenopterans, including  G. F. Möller’s collection with its C. G. Thomson types, and A. Lewin’s collection. There is also a very large number of ants, preserved in ethanol, mainly collected during the soil fauna inventory.

Diptera (flies and mosquitoes)

These are dried or preserved in ethanol, The former identified at the family level by H. Andersson (Lund). Among the dried material, A. W. Malm’s collection of hover flies (Syrphidae) from West Sweden is particularly noteworthy.

Other insect groups

Material from other insect groups is noticeably less,  but most of the dried Swedish specimens have been identified and arranged,  in particular the dragonflies and orthoptera (grasshoppers, locusts and crickets). Almost all of the insect collections are accessible or can be made accessible for researchers and entomology enthusiasts. Please contact the museum staff for more information.



Charlotte Jonsson
Phone: +46 (0)10-441 42 58

Updated: 2021-02-02 13:57