With about 500.000 described species, Coleoptera (beetles) worldwide form the largest insect order. It is unknown, however, how many additional species are to be yet described, but these are estimated between one and five millions.
Size of the Collections
The numbers of specimens, species and types of the Coleoptera collection at present are not exactly known. The total number of specimens is roughly estimated about 3-4 millions (the numerous material preserved in ethanol excluded). The number of species is estimated about 100.000, the number of species represented by typical material is about 9.000, the number of type specimens about 30.000. Thus, the Coleoptera collection is the second largest in Germany.
The collection includes a large number of historical collections some of which are rich of types. Several important collections that have been donated to the ZSM still are in the hand of their former holders which makes more exact estimations of their number of species and specimens difficult.
Since some years a collection of beetle larvae is being built up, with Chrysomelidae and recently Carabidae being best represented.