Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona


Science Collections Zoological collections Arthropods

The Arthropods collection is the Museum’s largest and most diverse collection as it contains more than half the total number of specimens held in the Museum collections overall. It is difficult to estimate the exact number of specimens but it is somewhere between 1,750,000 and 1,900,000 and includes examples of most of the different subphylum orders (Chelicerata, Crustacea, Uniramia) that comprise the phylum Arthropoda, although the Hexapoda group is the most amply represented with a considerable number of insects.

The collection of type specimens in the Arthropods collection is of great scientific value, in terms of both number of specimens and species, and taxonomic groups represented.

Most of the arthropods collection is sourced from the Palaearctic region but, due to historical reasons, the collections of some groups of Coleoptera, such as Anobiidae, Cicindelidae, Tenebrionidae and Neuroptera insects, contain representatives from nearly all of the world’s bioclimatic regions.

The Artur Martorell and Daniel Müller collections were the first to be accessioned into the Martorell Museum in 1901 and 1903, respectively. Their historical and heritage value is therefore considerable, although they are of little scientific value because of the limited data available on their harvesting. The first scientifically rigorous collection was made over in 1916 by Ascensi Codina and is notable for its Coleoptera Cicindelinae (tiger beetles) from all over the world.

Many other important collections followed, but the one created as the result of the harvesting and scientific work done by Dr. Francesc Español, curator and Director of the Museum from the 1930s to the 1990s, is especially worth mentioning, as it was a legacy of great scientific interest, containing a large number of new taxa –nearly all of which are still valid today– and new geographical sites. His activity in teaching and training new entomologists was also highly productive as his pupils continued his entomological research. It has thus become a considerably dynamic collection, receiving numerous consultations year after year as well as large numbers of items from Museum collaborators, which further expand its resources.

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  • Collection fund
  • Sources of acquisitions
  • Preparation and preservation

The Musem arthropods collection encompasses all the main groups of the phylum Arthropoda, such as Hexapoda (insects and Entognatha), Myriapoda (centipedes and millipedes), Crustacea (crustaceans) and Chelicerata (spiders, scorpions and such like), although insects are the most diverse and most fully represented group. The Museum thus holds a good representation of all the orders of Insecta, particularly Palaearctic species although, due to historical reasons, there are specimens of some groups of Coleoptera and Neuropterida from every bioclimatic region in the world.

  • Collection of type specimens

    The collection of type specimens includes holotypes and paratypes, as well as some lectotypes, paralectotypes, neotypes and paraneotypes —specific nomenclature that serves to establish the specimens used as the basis for the scientific description of new taxa. The estimated volume of type specimens in the Museum’s Arthropoda collection could be in excess of 5,000, and they are currently in the process of being registered, documented and computerised (2013: 3,700 registered type specimens). Most of the type specimens are dry preserved, but some are preserved in alcohol (70º) and a few are prepared for microscopy. A significant number of these type specimens are Hexapoda, the most representative of which are the Coleoptera. Nonetheless, all the subphyla of the phylum Arthropoda, such as Myriapoda, Crustacea and Chelicerata, are also present in the type collection.

    The documentation pertaining to the type specimens is currently under review. Some of the specimens date back to the 19th century, such as those described or harvested by Jeannel, Reitter and Winkler, or some Odonata and Neuropterida from the Navàs collection. Moreover, many of these taxa described in the past were published without designating the corresponding type specimens and are thus considered to be so-called syntypes, waiting for the specialist and/or author to identify them and label them correctly, if necessary.

  • Collection of hypogeous fauna

    The present collection is the result of a longstanding line of research at the Centre, which was promoted by the eminent entomologist, curator and director of the Museum, Dr Francesc Español i Coll, and carried on by his successor as curator of entomology, Dr Oleguer Escolà, and which is now actively continued by the team of curators and technicians of the Museum’s Arthropoda Department. This long tradition of projects for harvesting specimens in caves has resulted in a substantial collection of hypogeous arthropods, far in excess of 200,000 specimens and representative of all the members of the phylum Arthropoda (crustacea, arachnids, myriapoda, insects and entognatha), although the Coleoptera are the most widely represented and studied group and comprise the largest number of type specimens. Our connections with different biospeleology specialists have facilitated the generous exchange and donation of specimens, including, notably, the accession of cavernicolous Coleoptera collections such as those of Ricardo Zariquiey Álvarez and Jacques Negre which, together with that of Francesc Español, constitute the most important collection of Leiodidae Coleoptera in Europe.

    Ricardo Zariquiey Álvarez (Barcelona, 1897-1965), physician and philanthropist, son of the paediatrician and naturalist Ricardo Zariquiey Cenarro (Caparroso, Navarre, 1870-Arenys de Munt, 1943), was president of the Institució Catalana d’Història Natural (Catalan Institute of Natural History) (1929-1930) and an active collaborator of the Zoology Museum. In 1917, together with his father, he began harvesting and studying endogeous and cavernicolous Coleoptera, and discovered a great deal of scientifically valuable information about them. Their joint efforts culminated in one of the most significant collections of cave-dwelling beetles —Leiodidae: Cholevinae (= Catopidae: Bathysciinae). The Zariquiey collection therefore combines the collections of two generations, and was made over to Barcelona’s Zoology Museum in 1958. It consists of approximately 6,000 batches of Leiodidae specimens, of which more than 300 are type specimens.

    Jacques Nègre (Paris, 1907-Toulouse, 1988). An entomologist, specialised in Carabidae and interested in underground fauna, he started exploring in the period between 1940 and 1945 in Europe, North Africa, tropical Asia and Latin America. The collection consisting of his own specimens was enhanced by other collections that he acquired, such as those of Alluaud, Carret, Pater, Puel, Sudre, etc., as well as by the sizeable Mas de Xaxars Carabidae collection, of great scientific interest. In 1956 he gave Dr Francesc Español the Fagniez collection of Leiodidae (cave beetles), Anobiidae (woodworm) and Tenebrionidae (black beetles) as a personal donation. In 1958 he made over an additional 359 Anobiidae (Planet collection). In 1968 he gave the Museum his collection of Coleoptera, mostly Carabidae, and as he had also been keen on biospeleology, he added a collection of Techinae (carabid cave beetles) and Leiodidae (cave beetles) consisting of around 5,000 batches of specimens and some 50 type specimens.

  • Coleoptera Collection

    The collection of Coleoptera insects is the most diverse and numerous one of all the Museum’s Arthropoda collections, with around one million specimens, and includes representatives of most of the taxonomic families in the Palaearctic zone, although there are also specimens of families distributed throughout the Afrotropical, Neotropical, Indomalaya, Nearctic and Australasian ecozones.

    This collection grew and gained notable scientific relevance thanks to the research work of Dr Francesc Español (1923-1990) who was particularly interested in Leiodidae (cave beetles), Tenebrionidae (black beetles) and Anobiidae (woodworm) from around the world. In addition, significant donations of other Coleoptera collections from researchers and naturalists, particularly those of Codina i Ferrer, Nègre and Zariquiey, among other more recent ones, have given it further scientific value. Likewise, the first collections made over to the Museum and dating back to the early 20th century, such as the Martorell i Peña and Müller collections, also lend it considerable historical value.

    Francesc Español i Coll (Valls, 1907-Barcelona, 1999). A pharmacist, eminent entomologist and researcher specialising in Coleoptera, he was the curator and director of what was then the Zoology Museum of Barcelona – now the Natural Sciences Museum of Barcelona.

    His collaboration with the Zoology Museum began in 1924, and in 1932 he was appointed head of entomology. He then made his collections over to the museum. At that time they consisted of some 16,000 specimens, most of which were from Camp de Tarragona, the Pyrenees and western Morocco. Though he was head of the museum from 1939 onwards it was not until 1966 that the City Council formally appointed him director of the Zoology Museum.

    Dr Español’s main lines of research and study groups, in which he described a good many new taxa, were:

    – Tenebrionidae from the western Mediterranean
    – Anobiidae from around the world
    – Iberian and North African hypogeous Coleoptera

    Interest in the Tenebrionidae (with over 80,000 species) lies in the fact that they are specialised in desert environments. The Anobiidae, collected from around the world, were a little known group until Dr F. Español studied them and undertook their systematic classification. Study of this group started as a result of the costly economic repercussions of these beetles (damage to woodwork in buildings, spoilage of foodstuffs, damage to cellulose products, tobacco, and so on). Cave-dwelling Coleoptera are difficult to observe and harvest, and are of interest because of their different means of adapting to such strange underground environments (chasms, caves, mines, etc.), which result in the limited distribution of the species, causing them to become isolated in time and place and leading to endemisms, many of which are relicts.

    Manuel Martorell i Peña (Barcelona, 19th century-1890), brother of the founder of the Martorell Museum, Francesc Martorell i Peña (Barcelona, 1822-1878), was the first honorary director of the centre, a position he held from June 1880 until his death in March 1890. His entomological collection, however, was not made over to the Museum until the death of his widow, Teresa Poch, in 1901. He and his cousin, the eminent entomologist and botanist, Miquel Cuní i Martorell (Calella 1827-Barcelona 1902) published the Catálogo de los coleópteros observados en Cataluña (1876) (Catalogue of Coleoptera observed in Catalonia (1876). The collection consisted originally of 4,329 specimens of different groups of insects, mostly European, a significant number of which were from Catalonia.

    Frederich Daniel Müller Steffan (19th century-20th century) was a Swiss pattern designer and amateur entomologist who settled in Barcelona. In 1903, the Board of Natural Sciences acquired his collection from Maria Giner i Nolla. Originally, it consisted of 32,800 specimens representing some 8,000 species, rigorously classified according to the 1891 Catalogus Coleopterorum Europae, Caucasi et Armeniae rossicae by Heyden, Reitter and Weise, which accompanied the collection as an inventory and which is currently conserved in the Museum library. The collection is therefore of considerable historical interest because of its antiquity, but has little scientific value because of the limited data available on the specimens collected.

    Eugeni Ferrer i Dalmau (Mataró, 1856-Terrassa, 1934). A naturalist and chemical engineer. Mainly interested in entomology and botany, he published some works on Cicindelae, including, notably, his Assaig monogràfic sobre les Cicindeles catalanes (1911) (Monograph on Catalan Cicindelae). He was a founder member of the Catalan Institute of Natural History and became its president in 1904. The collection was made over to the Museum in 1937 by his widow. According to the inventory taken at the time, the collection consisted of 3,424 specimens that represented 31 different families, Coleoptera being the largest group.

    Ascensi Codina i Ferrer (Barcelona, 1877-Barcelona, 1932). Zoologist. In 1916 he joined the Museum as assistant naturalist and head of Entomology. Although he devoted himself mainly to studying Coleoptera, he also worked with Lepidoptera and Hemiptera, and amassed a great deal of material. He published some eighty studies: Alguns coleòpters de les illes d’Eivissa i Formentera (Coleoptera from the Islands of Ibiza and Formentera) (1918), Recull de zoocecídies catalanes (Harvesting of Catalan Zoocecidiae) (1920), Una nova cicindela ibèrica (A new Iberian Cicindela) (1931), as well as his monographs on the Coleoptera genus Carabus (1915), Hemiptera (1920) and Cicindelidae in Fauna de Catalunya (Fauna of Catalonia) published by the Institute of Catalan Studies. His collection of Cicindelidae contains some 2,247 specimens, including type and co-type specimens, and specimens from all over the world.

    Josep Maria Mas de Xaxars i Palet (Alella, 1881-Barcelona 1946) was a pupil of Father Barnola’s at the Jesuit Sacred Heart School in Barcelona, along with Aguilar-Amat, among others. He specialised in the study of Cicindelidae and Carabidae. His entomological collection was accessioned to the Museum in 1948, all except for the Carabidae which were acquired by another eminent entomologist, J. Nègre. It was the first Iberian collection of Carabus, Cychrus and Calosoma, and consisted of some 1,558 forms and over 5,000 specimens.

    Robert Gerroumí (La Chifla, Algeria, 1923-Perpignan, France, 2005). A great entomologist, specialised in Coleoptera. He donated his collection of over 15,000 specimens to the Natural Sciencies Museum of Barcelona. Noteworthy for its considerable scientific interest and its excellent presentation, it reflects his precise, meticulous character. The collection was made over in 2008 by his family, in accordance with his wishes, and comprises 173 entomology boxes containing specimens of diverse Coleoptera families. The most numerous group are the Carabidae, many of them from the Roussillon region, although there are representatives from all over the Mediterranean, particularly from North Africa.

  • Lepidoptera Collection

    The Lepidoptera collection is the second most important one in the Museum’s Arthropoda collection in terms of abundance and variety of specimens. It contains representatives of most of the species found throughout the Iberian peninsula, the Balearic Isles and the Canary Islands, though it also contains specimens from the eastern part of the Palaearctic region and from tropical Africa and America. Its largest source of items is the Sagarra collection, with approximately 150,000 specimens.

    Ignasi de Sagarra i de Castellarnau (Barcelona, 1890-Barcelona, 1940). Zoologist. He joined the Catalan Institute of Natural History (ICHN) in 1905 and the Museum in 1918, where he became curator of Zoology and head of Lepidoptera and Ornithology by public selection process. After his appointment he negotiated the accession of the ICHN entomology collections to the Museum and donated his own collection of Lepidoptera. Between 1918 and 1936 he enlarged the Museum’s Lepidoptera collection with his own contributions and those of various collaborators, such as Felip Ferrer i Vert, Alfred Weiss, Odó C. Rosset, L. Navàs, Orazio Querci, Enrico Romei, J. Grustan, Màrius Amigó and Eugeni Balaguer, among others, and Museum staff, such as Pius Font i Quer, Joan B. d’Aguilar-Amat, Santiago Novellas, Anna Foix, Pepita Mata, etc., and eventually it became the largest collection in Spain, together with that of the Natural History Museum in Madrid, with over 100,000 specimens and some new species and numerous new races.

    Salvador Maluquer i Nicolau (Barcelona, 1881-Barcelona, 1955). A lawyer by profession, he was the founder of the Catalan Institute of Natural History, professor of Natural Sciences of the Community of Catalonia and the Generalitat de Catalunya (regional government of Catalonia) and head of Barcelona’s Aquarium and Zoo. Although he worked with several zoological groups, between 1900 and 1910 he devoted himself to studying and collecting Lepidoptera, and was Ignasi de Sagarra’s teacher and the person who introduced him to the study of lepidopterology. His Lepidoptera collection, incorporated into the ICHN collections, was accessioned to the Museum in 1916 and was later added to the Sagarra collection.

    Josep M. Farriols i Centena (1886-1954), a gynaecologist by profession, was a member of the Catalan Institute of Natural History and a collaborator of the Museum from 1921. He put together a sizeable collection of Lepidoptera, mostly Lycaenidae and Hymenoptera from the Collserola range of hills (Les Planes, Vallvidrera), the Vallès Oriental and other places in Catalonia. He was a collaborator of Sagarra, Francesc Español and the Vilarrúbia brothers, and published some scientific notes in the Butlletí de la Institució Catalana d’Història Natural (ICHN Gazette). After his death his wife, Mercedes Calbo Rodés, donated his collections to the Museum.

    Lluís Domènech i Torres (Barcelona, 1911-Lerida, 1992). An architect by profession and naturalist by vocation, he devoted himself to ornithology and lepidopterology. He was president of the Catalan Society of Lepidopterology from the year it was founded, in 1978, until his death. He published several works on Catalan Rhopalocera in the Butlletí de la Societat Catalana de Lepidopterologia (Catalan Lepidopterology Society’s Gazette) and in the Society’s annual publication Treballs. He put together a large collection of Lepidoptera (16,000 specimens), especially Rhopalocera, from western Catalonia, the central and eastern Pyrenees and the Gavarres hills (Lower Ampurdan region). Through exchange and purchase he built up a substantial collection of exotic butterflies from all over the world. In 1987 he donated his collections to the Museum.

    Anisi Rius Dalmau (Barcelona, 1937-Barcelona 2008), and his son Jordi Rius (Barcelona, 1970). Amateur entomologists. On 18 November 2000 the family gave the MZB his collection of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) in keeping with his wishes. The collection consists of some 15,000 specimens and is representative of most of the species in the Iberian peninsula. It also contains specimens from the westernmost Palaearctic region. The specimens are in perfect condition and correctly documented, and most of them were identified by Anisi Rius.

  • Collection of Neuropterida and similar insects

    This collection consists of some 11,000 specimens and contains Neuroptera (green lacewings and similar), Mecoptera (scorpion flies), Trichoptera (caddis flies), Ephemeroptera (mayflies), Plecoptera (stoneflies and similar), Embioptera (webspinners), Psocoptera (booklice and similar) and Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies). Many of these insects come from the Navàs collection, which contains numerous type specimens and material from five continents.

    Longí Navàs i Ferrer (Cabacés, 1858-Gerona, 1938) was a Jesuit priest, as well as a first-class naturalist. He was world renowned as an entomologist and a specialist in Neuroptera, and today his name is still connected with this order of insects, of which he identified nearly 1,900 species and varieties and almost 300 new genera.

    The Museum holds a very significant part of his collection of Neuroptera (more than 8,000 specimens, including a considerable number of types) and other groups of insects; another sizeable part of his collection of insects from the Iberian Peninsula (some 7,300) is housed in the Natural History Museum of the University of Zaragoza, on loan from the Colegio del Salvador.

  • Hymenoptera and Diptera Collections

    The Hymenoptera and Diptera collections, consisting of approximately 70,000 and 21,000 specimens respectively, contain representatives of most of the families in the Palaearctic region. Most of the specimens are from the Iberian peninsula and North Africa, although some families have representatives from around the world. The noteworthy Bofill i Pichot collection, which contains a considerable number of type specimens, forms part of these collections.

    Josep Maria Bofill i Pichot (Barcelona, 1860-Sant Julià de Vilatorta, 1938). Physician and entomologist, and member of the Board of Natural Sciences between 1918 and 1920. Between 1919 and 1920, Bofill i Pichot donated his collection of regional Hymenoptera, all of which was duly labelled and gave precise details with regard to the specimen-harvesting locations. The collection is estimated to contain some 7,000 Catalan specimens, and the Ichneumonidae (24 boxes) are especially worth mentioning. In the field of entomology he collaborated initially with Pere Antiga i Sunyer (Barcelona, 1854-Barcelona, 1904) in preparing a large catalogue on insects in Catalonia (Catàleg d’insectes de Catalunya: Hymenòpters), based on the extensive collections of this teacher and amateur entomologist, and published in instalments by the Catalan Institute of Natural History (1902-1906). The death of Antiga in 1904 left the work and the collections in the hands of Bofill i Pichot, who continued with publication of the catalogue up until 1906.

    José María Dusmet Alonso (Chinchón, Madrid, 1869-Zaragoza, 1960). A renowned entomologist, he was awarded a doctorate in Natural Sciences from Madrid University in 1894 with his thesis Algunos datos para el estudio de los Tentredínidos de España (Data pertaining to the study of Tenthredinidae in Spain). He donated his collection of more than 50,000 specimens to the Natural History Museum in Madrid, together with his notes and publications, except for a small part that was given to the Zoology Museum of Barcelona and in which the collection of Formicidae, containing material harvested from all over the world, is particularly noteworthy.

    Francesc Vergés i Serra (Barcelona, 1921-Canet de Mar, 1999). Amateur entomologist. On 7 June 2000, and in keeping with his wishes, his siblings Antoni and Montse donated his entomology collection to the Zoology Museum of Barcelona, because throughout his life he had been a colleague of the entomologists at the museum. It is a Hymenoptera collection in which the dominant groups are Apoidea and Vespoidea, among others, from the Iberian peninsula. It is a reference collection that contains some 13,500 specimens distributed in 90 entomology boxes. All the material in this collection was harvested, documented and partially classified by Francesc Vergés i Serra.

  • Orthoptera Collection

    The Orthoptera collection contains some 13,500 specimens and includes specimens from most of the families in the Palaearctic region, although as far as numbers and interest are concerned we should highlight the specimens from the Iberian peninsula, Balearic Isles and Canary Islands. Furthermore, the recent addition of the Olmo collection has further enriched and diversified the pre-existing collection.

    Josep Maria Olmo i Vidal (Sant Adrià de Besòs, 1963). Doctor of Biology and renowned entomologist specialised in Orthoptera. In 2002 he published the catalogue: Atlas dels ortòpters de Catalunya (Atlas of Orthoptera in Catalonia). Early in 2010 he donated his private collections of insects, mostly Orthoptera, which served as the basis for the aforementioned catalogue, to the MCNB. The collection consists of 55 entomology boxes which contain a total of 6,583 specimens of dry-conserved insects. 36 boxes contain Orthoptera, with representatives of Caelifera and Ensifera. Most of the specimens were harvested in the Iberian peninsula, and especially in Catalonia. This collection is the result of many years of entomological harvesting and research, interests that we know he is still keen on and hope he always will be.

  • Hemiptera Collection

    The Hemiptera collection consists of representatives of most of the families in the Palaearctic region and of some of the most abundant families in tropical Africa and America. We know it contains some 41,600 dry-preserved and wet-preserved (in alcohol) specimens, and one of the collections included in it is that of Juan Torres Sala.

    Juan Torres Sala de Orduña Feliu (Pego, 1892-Valencia, 1974). A politician and eminent Valencian entomologist, member of the Reial Societat Espanyola d’Història Natural (Spanish Royal Society of Natural History), he put together a large collection of Coleoptera, Lepidoptera and Hemiptera, and also acquired the collection of another Valencian entomologist, Emilio Moroder Sala (1882-1939). The Hemiptera part was accessioned into the Zoology Museum of Barcelona in 1965 through an exchange with the Torres Sala Entomology Foundation.

    Manel Mir (Barcelona, 1936-Barcelona, 2005). A businessman, with an interest in natural pigments, which led him to travel for years around South America and the Canary Islands, where he became highly proficient in the cultivation of cochineal and in the trading of its pigment: carmine. With the knowledge he acquired he set up a non-profit centre in Barcelona for studying and disseminating cochineal, called La Casa de la Cochinilla-Nocheztlicalli. On 29 September 2000 he made over to the MCNB a large part of his collection of Hemiptera insect specimens and their pigments, consisting of almost one hundred hand-crafted glass flasks, approximately half of which contain dried specimens of cactus cochineal Dactylopius coccus (Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Coccoidea: Dactylopiidae) from different plantations in South America. The others contain varying classes of carmine extracts in different concentrations and presentations, such as powder, lacquer and so on.

  • Collection of galls or zoocecidia

    Galls, or cecidia, are abnormal growths of plant cells, tissues or organs that develop as a result of the specific action of a cecidogen agent. The ability to induce galls is widespread, and a surprising diversity of groups, from viruses and bacteria to a vast range of insect families, can cause these deformations in plant growth.

    Deposited with the Museum is an outstanding collection of galls, consisting of the Vilarrúbia Collection which contains over two hundred different types of galls and served as the reference for establishing the current state of knowledge on Catalan cecidiology.

    Antoni Vilarrúbia i Garet (Balenyà, 1901-Balenyà, 1957). Entomologist, and lecturer at the School of Agriculture. He established the Apiculture department at the Barcelona Zoology Museum. From 1932 to 1957 he was a collector for the museum and was later appointed curator of entomology. He enlarged the existing collections considerably, further enriching them with the transfer of the collections from the Barcelona Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts to the Zoology Museum of Barcelona, promoted in 1926 by Josep Maria Bofill i Pichot, then permanent secretary of the Academy, who had also been President of the Catalan Institute of Natural History and the Institute of Catalan Studies. A specialist in Hymenoptera, some insect species of this order are dedicated to him for that reason, although he also collected Lepidoptera. He donated sundry material on Lycaneidae and Microlepidoptera to the museum, which was incorporated into the Sagarra collection. He authored, among other works, Les zoocecídies de les plantes de Catalunya (Zoocecidiae of plants in Catalonia) (1936), an extensive monograph on Catalan galls, and Zoocecidias de la Península Ibérica, I. Cynipidae (g. Neuroterus) (Zoocecidiae of the Iberian Peninsula, I. Cynipidae (g. Neuroterus)) (1956). The Torrellebreta, Balenyà, collection of galls was bequeathed to the Barcelona Zoology Museum, where it is currently held. Together with the galls, Antoni Vilarrúbia conserved adults obtained from these formations, but rarely classified them unless they were the direct cause. His correspondence with Tavares lends significance to some of the species contained in his collection.

  • Collection of arachnids and myriapoda

    The collection of arachnids and myriapoda consists of some 25,000 specimens, the result of historical and recent harvesting campaigns carried out in the Iberian peninsula and North Africa, both in the open and in caves. Scorpions, pseudoscorpions and spiders are the most thoroughly studied specimens as they are groups which are subject to in-house projects of review and identification by the relevant specialists. The Ventalló collection is a notable part of the Museum’s resources.

    Domènec Ventalló i Verges (Rubí, 1888-1959). A qualified pharmacist, he worked at the Museum from 1911 to 1941. In 1932 he was appointed head of the arachnid and myriapoda section of the Natural History Museum, and donated his collection of these groups of arthropoda to the Museum. The specimens, mainly from Catalonia, are conserved in alcohol (70º) and are of great documentary interest.

The Arthropods collection has grown principally as a result of complete collections donated by private researchers, which are accepted, in accordance with the Museum’s present growth policy, for the purpose of increasing the Museum resources. The collection is further augmented year after year with modest contributions of specimens harvested by Museum collaborators and private collectors. In addition, the Department also participates in various research projects involving harvesting campaigns for monitoring arthropod diversity, which provide a considerable number of specimens that have to be separated, prepared and documented (for further information, please see the section on Research).

The process of preparing Arthropoda samples involves different techniques depending on the specimen. The type of preparation depends on the characteristics of the exoskeleton, the thickness of the chitinous layer and also on body size. With most insects, the dehydration and dry preservation method is used, which means they must be placed in a particular position, with their appendages stretched out, before they dry out. Small, weakly chitinised specimens are usually preserved in liquid (preferably 70º alcohol), a procedure that is also used for specimens in a larval or juvenile stage and for the majority of non-insect Arthropoda, such as arachnids, crustacean and myriapoda. Moreover, in certain groups with identical external morphological characteristics it is essential to do anatomical preparations of insect genitalia, which entail the extraction and dissection of the reproductive system. At present, a proportion of the specimens captured are collected and preserved in absolute alcohol and are kept refrigerated at 4ºC, to facilitate subsequent molecular study.

Once the specimen has been prepared, it is registered, documented and placed in an entomology box or glass phial (according to the preservation method) which is then stored in the pertinent cupboard or shelf, under optimal environmental conditions.