Entomology Collection (Insects)

Scarab beetles

Scarab beetles. Photographer: Damon Wilder

There are more than 600,000 specimens in the insect collection dating from 1756, originating with the collections of Alexander Macleay.

He purchased many important collections, including the collections of Dru Drury, Edward Donovan, Sir Ashton Lever (which included specimens presented to Lever by Captain James Cook), Thomas Marsham, John Francillon and General Thomas Davies.

Important gifts to Alexander’s collection included specimens from Sumatra by Sir Alexander Raffles and from Hong Kong by Mr J. C Bowring.

The collection was added to by Alexander's son, William Sharp Macleay, and increased further by William Sharp's cousin, William John Macleay. The collection is maintained with a view to both scientific and historic interests, with some specimens housed in their original Chippendale cabinets to 19th century pinnings. The bulk of the collection is stored taxonomically.

In 1969, over 5000 predominantly Australian types were transferred to the Australian National Insect Collection in Canberra as a permanent loan.

At present, around 580 types remain in the Entomology Collection, though additional types are often discovered as the collection’s documentation improves.

Selected associated Literature

  • Britton, E.B. & P.J. Stanbury. 1982. Type specimens in the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney. VIII. Insects: beetles (Insecta: Coleoptera). Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 105: 241-293.
  • Fletcher, M.J., M.F. Day & M. Humphrey. 2003. The discovery of the holotype of Ledromorpha planirostris (Donovan) (Cicadellidae: Ledrinae), with notes on other Australian Auchenorrhyncha species described by Edward Donovan. General & Applied Entomology 32: 23-30.
  • Hahn, D.E., 1962. A List of the Designated Type Specimens in the Macleay Museum. Insecta. Macleay Museum, University of Sydney. 184 pp.
  • Naumann, I.D., J.C. Cardale, R.W. Taylor & J. MacDonald. 1994. Type specimens of Australian Hymenoptera (Insecta) transferred from The Macleay Museum, University of Sydney, to the Australian National Insect Collection, Canberra. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 114: 69-72.
  • Palma, R.L. 1991. Two bird lice (Insecta:Phthiraptera) collected during Captain Cook’s 2nd voyage around the world. Archives of Natural History 18: 237-247.
  • Pilgrim, R.L.C. 1992. An historic collection of fleas (Siphonaptera) in the Macleay Museum, Sydney, Australia. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 113: 77-86.
  • Stevens, M.M., & M. Carver, 1986. Type-specimens of Hemiptera (Insecta) transferred from the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney, to the Australian National Insect Collection, Canberra. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 108: 263–266.
  • Whitley, G.P. & P.J. Stanbury, P.J. 1976. Type specimens in the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney. VII. The holotype of Gryllus spinulosus Johansson. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 100: 202-204.