In the entire realm of organisms the butterflies and moths are the largest community of descent of herbivorous species. So far about 160,000 species have been described, but it is estimated that 500,000 butterfly and moth species live on Earth. About 1,000 new species are described each year.
Since the introduction of the binary nomenclature in zoology in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus, about 15,500 species of Pyraloidea have been described. Still up to the middle of the 20th Century, the actual biodiversity has been largely underestimated.
Butterflies are not only very rich in species, but also very aesthetic insects. Since the mid-19th Century, significant progress has been made in the management of insects and their protection against mold, pests and sunlight. Dresden has developed in that time a true metropolis of Lepidopterology.
The Museum of Zoology in Dresden, with more than 6 million specimens, is one of the approximately 10 large zoological collections of Germany. The Dresden collections originate from all over the globe, and their international significance is due not least to the abundance of name-bearing types represented (holotypes, lectotypes and syntypes of some 15,000 species and subspecies; if paratypes and paralectotypes are considered, about 53,000 type specimens).