Gems of the Air

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"I have observed that butterflies - very broad-winged and magnificent butterflies-frequently come on board of the salt shops where I am at work. What have these bright strangers to do on Long Wharf, where there are no flowers not any green thing-nothing but brick stores, stone piers, black ships, and the bustle of toilsome men, who neither look up to the blue sky, nor take note of these wandering gems of air."

Letter from the author Nathaniel Hawthorne to his wife (from selected Letters of Nathaniel Hawthorne )


Butterflies are connected with beauty in the public mind but the beauty of moths is often overlooked. Some, such as the tropical Sunset moth (Alcidia boops), are even more eye-catching than many butterflies. However, leaving aesthetics aside, even the smallest brown butterfly or moth in our collections may have great scientific or historical importance, because of its rarity or connection to a famous naturalist.

The Museum has extensive world butterfly and moth collections.  Scientifically, the most important part of these collections are the Lepidoptera Type specimens. Making these fragile specimens available online through this site, helps safeguard them for the future and enable all to access the collection.


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