Lepidoptera Types

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Aim and scope

The Royal Museum for Central Africa exists as a scientific institution since 1898 and from this period already insects were sent from subsaharan Africa to the entomology section for study. These insects came mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. In the mid sixties, when the section moved to its actual buildings, other subsaharan regions were prospected and now there are also representative collections from West and East Africa.

The Lepidoptera collection is housed on the second floor of the entomology section, the so-called northern wing of the "Palais des Colonies". A small specimen databasing project made it possible to calculate roughly the number of specimens of Lepidoptera housed there : about 240.000 butterflies and about 230.000 moths. This collection was studied since its origin and types of new taxa were described already from the early 20th century. At the time of the beginning of photographing of this type material, there were about 1.600 primary types of Lepidoptera recognised.

Goal and scope of the lepidoptera database

The aim of this project is to make available on the internet the photographs of type material of the Lepidoptera collection of the RMCA. This includes all primary types and the opposite sex if designated as a secondary type, and also secondary types of taxa the primary types of which are deposited elsewhere (usually gifts in the form of paratypes). Of all these specimens recto and verso full colour pictures will be available with all labels underneath so that verifications can be made on the photograph itself. Checking if the specimens labelled as types material were indeed types was one of the most time consuming activities during the project. Remarks on this topic are always very welcome.

In the case of butterflies, name and status of the specimens have been checked with Ackery et al. (1995), quoted as Carcasson 1995 on the website. Comments based on data in this catalogue have been added underneath the picture (chiefly synonymy) and sometimes other comments from other sources, particularly if there is a contradiction between Carcasson 1995 and the information available on the specimen labels. Sometimes specimens labelled as types could not be traced back in this catalogue, in that case "MS name?" has been added to the comment. Remarks on these possible manuscript names are always welcome.

Literature cited

Ackery, P. R., Smith, C. R., & Vane-Wright, R. I. (eds.). 1995.Carcasson's African butterflies: an annotated catalogue of the Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea of the Afrotropical Region. East Melbourne: CSIRO, xi + 803 pp.