Lepidoptera collection

The Lepidoptera collection is the second largest part of the Department of Zoology with its 1.7 million specimens preserved in 12 thousand museum drawers. The first specimens originate from the end of the 18th century. Although the majority of our materials were gathered in the 20th century, the collection of the 19th century is regarded as the most important.

The National Collection consists of the 650 thousand specimens that represent the fauna of the Carpathian Basin. It is also equivalent to one third of the whole collection.  Pieces of the General Collection, classified according to families, cover all zoogeographic regions of the world. The Palaearctic ecozone is by far the most represented region, especially in regards to the Balkans, Anatolia, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, Korea and the temperate Himalaya. We preserve only a limited amount of materials from the tropics and other exotic areas, mainly from Africa (Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, East Africa), eastern Australia (Queensland), South-east Asia (Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam) and Papua New Guinea, however, they are very important.

The specimens of the National Collection  are  completely  identified  on the level of species and subspecies. Regarding the General Collection, the number is only 75 per cent. Approximately 30 thousand of our specimens either wait for preparation, or need to be sorted and tagged.

Senior curator: Zsolt Bálint
Curator: Balázs Tóth, Gergely Katona
Volunteers: Tibor Sándor Kovács, János Pál, Balázs Tóth, Zoltán Varga, Csaba Szabóky

Collection size
Total number of specimens: approximately 1.7 thousand
Number of species: approximately 75 thousand
Number of types (taxa): approximately 1,800
Library: 1,500 lepidopterological books and 35 thousand reprints

Remarkable parts of the collection

The Koy collection

The honorable clerk of the Treasury, Tobias Koy (1757-1829), was also an amateur entomologist and collector of his living environment. Being in connection with acknowledged scientists of the time, he obtained valuable specimens. His Lepidoptera collection had been preserved by the  Budapest University of Technology and Economics before it was transferred to the Hungarian National Museum. The majority of the material was perished by the fire of the revolution in 1956. Only 935 specimens have remained for the posterity that we preserve separately in a custom-made cabinet. 
See for more collections


The National Collection (of the Carpathian Basin) is searchable for up to the level of the names of species-groups in Excel.
Butterflies protected by the Hungarian law (62 species), some parts of the species Lycaenidae and the whole material of Parnassiusapollo are available in our individual databases.
Butterfly families (Papilionoidea) of the General Collection are searchable up to the names of genus-groups in Excel.
Type material catalogues are under process. 
Lists (partially published) of Lepidopterantaxa, proposed by Imre Frivaldszky, János Frivaldszky, Antal Schmidt, LajosKovács, József Szőcs, József SzentIvány, László Gozmány and Márton Hreblay are available.

Our collection is open for visitors by appointment only.
Collection materials are available for loan and scientific examination by external researchers.
To discuss any of your requests, please contact our curator at the following address: balint.zsolt@nhmus.hu

Research loans
Loan policy statement (PDF)
Loan agreement (DOC)

On-site examination
Terms and Conditions (PDF)
Research permit form (DOC)