Research Collections of the Zoological Institute RAS — Lepidoptera

Русский / English

Collection of Lepidoptera of the Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, is one of the world’s largest ones and, undoubtedly, the largest as concern the representatives of the East Palaearctic fauna. More than 10 000 entomological boxes and cases with the collection material are stored inside 500 special cabinets in the Laboratory Building of Institute. It seems to be very hard to counting the exact number of specimens, a preliminary evaluation being about 5 millions.

The historical core of the collection is represented by the material originating from various sources since mid XIX to the beginning of ХХ century. The special attention deserves the exotic lepidopterans gathered by curator of the collection E. Ménétriés in a course of expeditions by leadership of Baron G.H. Langsdorff to South America (1824–1829) as well as the collection of Neotropical Lepidoptera by K.G. Kaden, acquired in 1893 and 1896 due to activity of N.G. Erschoff. In the beginning of ХХ century the collection of Lepidoptera has been enlarged by the new material and, in many respects, acquired its present-day character. There were the unique (in its amount and quality) assemblage of West Palaearctic micromoths by famous German lepidopterologist M.F. Wocke bought by Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich Romanov and passed by him to Zoological Museum of the Academy of Sciences in 1907 as well as Romanov’s vast private collection; and the lepidopteran collection from Volga-Urals region by professor Eduard Eversmann, which came in through Russian Entomological Society in 1908.

Over the next years, collections were enriched with the material accumulated predominantly by the researchers of Division of Lepidopterology and by other entomologists as a result of numerous expeditions to various regions of Russia and neighboring countries as well as owing to donations from private collectors (A.A. Bundel from Pamir, A.S. Milyanovskii from the Western Caucasus, O.V. Shlykov from Penza province, etc.). Another important source for valuable material was and still remains the exchange with other scientific institutions and with individual specialists.

In the present time, the collection material is organized into 5 main blocks:

  1. taxonomically arranged basic collection;
  2. collection of types, embracing especially valuable type-specimens (holotypes and lectotypes);
  3. mounted and labeled (but not yet examined) material;
  4. collections on cotton layers;
  5. specimens in alcohol.

The basic taxonomic collection encompasses more than 30 000 species, the overwhelming majority of them representing Palaearctic fauna, which is supplemented by a large amount of tropical Lepidoptera, both moths and butterflies. The collection of types is placed into especial boxes, which are kept at particular conditions preventing pest damage. Non-examined material as well as collections kept on the cotton layers are arranged by the geographic principle and then according to the names of collectors. The material stored in alcohol includes preimaginal stages and material for functional morphological studies.

The fundamental scientific value of the collection is determined, first of all, by the presence of numerous type specimens of species described by celebrated lepidopterists of the past time (E. Ménétriés, E.A. Eversmann, G.A.W. Herrich-Schäffer, H.B. Moschler, M.F. Wocke, O. Bremer, P. Snellen, N.G. Erschoff, E.L. Ragonot, H.T. Christoph, G.E. Grum-Grzhimailo, S.N. Alpheraky, N.Ya. Kuznetsov, N.N. Philipjev, A.M. Gerasimov, A.M. Djakonov, I.V. Kozhanchikov, A.S. Danilevsky, V.I. Kuznetzov, A.K. Zagulajev, M.I. Falkovitch, and many others) as well as by current researchers of the Division of Lepidoptera. The precise number of type specimens is not finally established, since types were not always properly designated in the past; owing to the preliminary counts, the primary types of more than 2500 species-group taxa are represented in the collection.


Collection Curator

Dr. Sergey Sinev, Head of the Laboratory of Insect Taxonomy

Tel.: +7 (812) 328-12-12, ext. 275
Lepidoptera Department, Laboratory of Insect Taxonomy, Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences
199034, Russia, Saint Petersburg, Universitetskaya nab., 1


Photos of specimens and related materials made by A.Ju. Matov, S.Yu. Sinev.