With 3.5 million databased specimens and with at least as many remaining to be registered, the entomological collections are the largest in the Nordic countries, and they are very important both nationally and internationally. The collections include among other things the second oldest insect collection in the world, donated by K. Stobaeus in 1735.
The collections contain all kinds of insects, from the smallest parasitic wasps, less than 1 mm in length, to the largest insects – e.g. moths with a wingspan that extends over 30 cm. The material is mainly from Sweden but comprise insects from all over the world, including extensive material from South Africa and Sri Lanka. The collections are the result of donations, scientific expeditions, collections by museum staff, and purchases.
They include a main collection, where the majority of the specimens are kept; historic collections, mainly from the 19th century; a wet collection, including a lot of unidentified material preserved in alcohol; a slide collection; a reference collection with identified Swedish specimens; and a type collection that includes the original reference specimens for described species.
The main area of use is research, but some specimens are also used for more general purposes, e.g. public displays. The insects and the information connected to them, from the past to the present, are useful for research in biodiversity. Specimens in the collections have been used in several thousand scientific publications, e.g. the monographs on the beetles and wasps of Scandinavia by C.G. Thomson, and the monograph on the insects of Lapland by J.W. Zetterstedt – both published in the 19th century.