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Linnaeus's Butterfly Type Specimens


This image database is intended primarily for taxonomists and other researchers, but the historical importance of the specimens portrayed is such that we hope they will attract a broader audience. The database contains images of the butterfly specimens upon which Linnaeus based his descriptions.

Linnaeus described 305 taxa under the name Papilio. Of these, 241 refer to currently valid butterfly species names and two to subspecies. This site has been developed as an adjunct to a paper published on Linnaeus's butterflies, and makes images of type specimens and their labels available. Details of the publication are as follows:

Linnaeus's butterflies (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2001, 132: 277-399, by Martin R. Honey and Malcolm J. Scoble.

Sources of specimens

The specimens on which Linnaeus based his descriptions are housed in several institutions. Most were found either in his personal collection, now in the Linnean Society of London, or in that of Queen Ludovica Ulrica, now in the Zoological Museum of the University of Uppsala, Sweden. Further material was examined from the collections of Carl Clerck and Charles De Geer, both housed in the Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet, Stockholm, and from the material of James Petiver, which forms part of the collection of Sir Hans Sloane, in the Natural History Museum, London.

About the project

The project was carried out at the Natural History Museum, London, in association with The Linnean Society of London, and was supported by a grant from The Leverhulme Trust. It is hoped that eventually all the existing primary types will be illustrated on this site. Initially, nearly all those from The Linnean Society of London have been posted.


The small labels associated with the images are by Linnaeus, while the larger ones were added subsequently by Sir James Edward Smith, who purchased Linnaeus's collection.


The authors thank the Natural Environmental Research Council for a publications grant (administered by The Linnean Society of London) that enabled this website to be developed.

Related resources

The Cockayne database of UK butterflies.

This data was originally hosted at but has been moved to the NHM Data Portal.

Data and Resources

Cite this as

Martin Honey; Malcolm J Scoble (2020). Linnaeus's Butterfly Type Specimens [Data set]. Natural History Museum.
Retrieved: 15:40 01 Oct 2023 (UTC) BibTeX

Additional Info

Field Value
Primary contributors
Honey, Martin ( 0000-0002-7282-5074);
Scoble, Malcolm J
Other contributors
Last updated October 21, 2021
Last resource update October 21, 2021 (Linnean Butterfly Types)
Created August 4, 2020
License Creative Commons Attribution