Scientific collections

Kustodiat ColeopteraKustodiat DipteraKustodiat hemimetabolaKustodiat HymenopteraKustodiat Lepidoptera


Compact shelving in the storageroom of the SDEI  insect collection in Müncheberg.

The insect collection of the Senckenberg Deutsches Entomologisches Institut (Senckenberg German Entomological Institute) is one of the largest and most important natural history collections in Germany. The collection is a significant resource for the biodiversity research of the international scientific community.

At present it contains approximately 3 million specimens of about 190.000 species, including types of 22.000 species. The currently 13.000 drawers of the uniformly arranged, well catalogued collection are housed in climatised storagerooms in an electronically controlled system of compact shelving. Detailed data about the collection are publishes in Taeger et al. (2010).

Its foundation comprises the specialist collections of outstanding entomologists, which were mostly bequeathed to the SDEI. Amongst these are for example the collections of KRAATZ (Coleoptera), HORN (Coleoptera: Cicindelinae), LEONHARD (Coleoptera and Lepidoptera) and VON HEYDEN (Palaearctic Coleoptera). Particularly valuable are the collections made by SAUTER (1871-1948) in Formosa (about 6000 species, numerous types) and the 1961 DEI Expedition to Albania.


Compact shelving in the storageroom of the SDEI insekt collection. Foto: A. Taeger (2009)

In general, insects of all orders and from every zoogeographic region are included in the collection. The main focus lies, however, on the orders Coleoptera, Diptera, Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera, which have traditionally been worked on by staff of the SDEI. Additionally material related to biology (larvae, pupae, mines, feeding traces, nests, etc.) is collected and preserved.

Insectbox within the compact shelving, SDEI Müncheberg.The individual parts of the collection, with few exceptions, are arranged in the main collection in drawers of standardised dimension and according to the principles expressed by Walther Horn. They are documented in catalogues or by inclusion in the SDEI database. The stock of type specimens is largely covered in published catalogues and partly already accessible via an internal SDEI database.


The rich type material commits the SDEI to intensive international exchange. Numerous guest researchers constantly visit the SDEI from all parts of the world in order to work in the collection.

Detail of a standardized insectbox. Foto: A. Taeger (2009)



Digitalized type specimens from Taiwan 


Databasing Insect Type Specimens Collected in Taiwan and Housed Abroad

(External funder: National Museum of Natural Science (NMNS) in Taichung, Taiwan)

The collection of the SDEI is known for its large “Formosa Collection”, comprising about 6000 species and type material of 2258 species from Taiwan. The insects were collected between 1908 and 1914 by Hans Sauter (LINK: 1009683 ESAKI 1941.pdf) and donated to the institute, which engaged itself in finding specialists to examine the material, and in the publication of the results. Through this activity, Taiwan was for a long time the entomologically best investigated island in south-east Asia.
 In 2007 the National Museum of Natural Science (NMNS) in Taichung, Taiwan, signed a contract with Senckenberg, which has led to the phased digitalisation of the type material in the Formosa Collection. The images have been made available by the NMNS in an online database Entomologists from all parts of the world are thus enabled to examine images of type material, often making it unnecessary to send specimens on loan.