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Suguru Igarashi Insect Collection. Part I. Lepidoptera, Papilionidae

Catalogue of the Suguru Igarashi Insect Collection,
The University Museum, The University of Tokyo.
Part I.  Lepidoptera, Papilionidae

Motohiro Harada, Motomu Teshirogi, Hideyuki Ozawa* & Masaya Yago

The University Museum, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0033 Japan
* Present address: Tamachi Branch, Risona Bank, 5-34-2 Shiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 105-0014 Japan


⇒ Image Gallery
Igarashi Tenguageha

About 260,000 insect specimens and more than 5,000 entomological papers are deposited in The University Museum of The University of Tokyo. This collection is among the largest insect collections in Japanese university museums. Most of the insect specimens in the University of Tokyo collection were recently donated from researchers, collectors or their bereaved. In particular, the collection made by a worldwide butterfly researcher, the late Dr Suguru Igarashi (1924-2008), is very worthy and valuable for academic research.

Dr Igarashi was a well-known amateur entomologist who mainly studied the life histories and early stage morphology of butterflies. He was born on September 21, 1924, in Sasebo, Nagasaki Pref. He studied at the Faculty of Engineering, The University of Tokyo, and after graduation he not only held many high-ranking posts as a businessperson, including a board member of Taisei Corporation (1979-1985) and the president of Shin-Etsu Handotai Co., Ltd. (1990-1996), but also became an accomplished novelist.

Working for Taisei Corporation, he positively undertook overseas duties and there researched life histories of many butterflies. This work culminated in a publication entitled “Papilionidae and their early stages. Kodansha, Tokyo (1979)”, for which he received a doctorate of science from Kyoto University in 1983. His most famous achievement is that he formed a research team that led to the discovery of the immature stages of a very rare papilionid, Teinopalpus imperialis, in Darjeeling, India.

In academic societies, Dr Igarashi acted as chairman of the editorial committee of the Lepidopterological Society of Japan, and was the first president and president emeritus of the Butterfly Society of Japan. The symbol of the Butterfly Society of Japan is Teinopalpus imperialis,of which the life history was clarified by him personally. Other famous butterfly books which he wrote are “The Life Histories of Asian Butterflies. Vol. 1-2. Tokai University Press, Tokyo (1997, 2000)” and “Agehacho no Hakuchizu (Blank map of papilionids). Sekaibunkasha, Tokyo (2008)”.

As a novelist, he is known for several non-fiction novels based on his overseas experiences. Moreover, his father Megumi Igarashi (1889-1827), who was the commanding officer of the destroyer “Warabi”, caused the Mihonoseki Accident, an unparalleled casualty in the history of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Dr Igarashi also wrote novels of this incident. On the other hand, he himself became a model for the novel “Kiiroi Kotei (Yellow Emperor). Bungeishunju, Tokyo (1976)” by the Akutagawa Prize-winning writer, the late Mrs. Yoshiko Shibaki, (1914-1991). This production was featured in a TV drama under the title “Tabidachi ha Ai ka (1979-1980)”.

After Dr Igarashi died at the age of 83 on April 6, 2008 (from stomach cancer), his vast collection remained in private hands with his family. The donation of his collection to The University of Tokyo was implemented by the wish of his wife, Mrs. Yoshiko Igarashi, in June, 2010. She is the first daughter of the late Mr. Tokusaburo Kosaka who held the 30th Director General of the Economic Planning Agency and the 53rd Minister of Transport. It is also well known that she always joined her husband on his field studies and devoted herself to his butterfly research. Most of the collection is related to the life histories of butterflies: about 1,000,000 specimens, more than 1,000 books and journals and more than 5,000 paintings and photographs of the early stages. Among this great collection includes species on the current embargo list, very rare and valuable species known elsewhere in the world from only a few specimens, and original type specimens of taxa which he described. Moreover, the collection contains original paintings of figures which he published in butterfly books, books owned by the late Mr. Tarô Iwase (an immortal figure in the history of Japanese lepidopterology), and Manchurian butterfly specimens collected by the late Dr Shojiro Asahina who studied taxonomy and morphology of dragonflies in the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo. In the autumn of 2010, Mrs. Igarashi was awarded the “Shokumon-prize” from The University of Tokyo in connection with the donation as a public honor for a person who has rendered distinguished service.

The University Museum, The University of Tokyo, is currently data basing this important collection and making it available to the public. As a first step, we have compiled a list of the Papilionidae in which Dr Igarashi specialized, and have published in the bulletin series and website of the museum. The catalogue of Papilionidae, which contains 9,264 specimens in 298 cabinets, includes many precious species such as Teinopalpus imperialis, Papilio elephenor, Papilio hospiton, Papilio chikae and Ornithoptera alexandrae, the latter three of which are currently listed in Appendix I of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This database not only contributes much to taxonomy and systematics, but also provides an inventory that underpins biodiversity conservation. For example, basic data on distribution is the foundation for spatial analysis of patterns in biogeography and changes in geographic range that may be related to global warming and deforestation. We hope that by publishing this database, it will not only contribute to various scientific fields of endeavour, but also promote the importance of scientific specimens and museum collections to the public.

⇒ Specimen List


We express our sincere thanks to Mrs. Yoshiko Igarashi for donating the Dr Suguru Igarashi collection to The University Museum, The University of Tokyo. We are indebted to Mr. Tomoyuki Suzuki for organizing and photographing the specimens of this donation. Special thanks go to Mr. Yasuhiro Ito for creating the Web page for this collection. We also would like to express our thanks to Dr Michael F. Braby and Dr Mariko Kondo for looking over the manuscript. This database was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid for Publication of Scientific Research Results (No. 248059) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.


The specific classification and identification follow mainly Igarashi (1979) and Tsukada & Nishiyama (1980), and also other sources of literature (see the following references).

  • Braby, M. F., 2000. Butterflies of Australia. Their Identification, Biology and Distribution. Vol. 1. CSIRO Publishing, Victoria.
  • Bridges, C. A., 1988. Catalogue of Papilionidae & Pieridae (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera). Charles A. Bridges, Urbana, Illinois.
  • Chou, I. (Ed.), 1994. Monographia Rhopalocerorum Sinensium, Monograph of Chinese Butterflies. Henan Scientific and Technological Publishing House, Cheng-chou.
  • Corbet, A. S. & Pendlebury, H. M. (1992). The Butterflies of the Malay Peninsula. Fourth edition revised by J. N. Eliot. Kuala Lumpur: Malayan Nature Society.
  • D’Abrera, B., 1982. Butterflies of the Oriental Region. Part I. Hill House, Victoria.
  • D’Abrera, B., 1990. Butterflies of the Holarctic Region. Part I. Papilionidae, Pieridae, Danaidae & Satyridae (Partim). Hill House, Victoria.
  • Ek-Amnuay, P., 2006. Butterflies of Thailand. Fascinating insects. Vol. 2. Amarin Printing and Publishing Public Co., Ltd., Bangkok.
  • Igarashi, S., 1979. Papilionidae and their early stages. Kodansha, Tokyo.
  • Igarashi, S. & Fukuda, H., 1997. The Life Histories of Asian Butterflies. Vol. 1. Tokai University Press, Tokyo.
  • Igarashi, S. & Fukuda, H., 2000. The Life Histories of Asian Butterflies. Vol. 2. Tokai University Press, Tokyo.
  • Matsuka, H., 2001. Natural History of Birdwing Butterflies. Mtsuka Shuppan, Tokyo.
  • Otsuka, K., 1988. Butterflies of Borneo. Tobishima Corporation, Tokyo.
  • Parsons, M., 1998. The butterflies of Papua New Guinea. Their systematics and biology. Academic Press, San Diego.
  • Sakai, S., 1981. Butterflies of Afghanistan. Kodansha, Tokyo.
  • Sakai, S., Inaoka, S., Aoki, T., Yamaguchi, S. & Watanabe, Y., 2002. The Parnassiology. The Parnassius Butterflies, A Study in Evolution. Kodansha, Tokyo.
  • Scott, J. A., 1986. The Butterflies of North America. A Natural History and Field Guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford.
  • Tsukada, E. & Nishiyama, Y., 1980. Butterflies of the South East Asian Islands. Part I. Papilionidae. Plapac Co., Ltd., Tokyo.
  • Zakharov, E. V., Caterino, M. S. & Sperling, F. A. H., 2004. Molecular phylogeny, historical biogeography, and divergence time estimates for swallowtail butterflies of the genus Papilio (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae). Systematic Biology, 53: 193–215.