The Lepidoptera’s collection began to be formed at the end of the 19th century, when part of the zoological collections that today house the MZUSP building belonged to the Museu Paulista. It includes material collected by E. Garbe, H. Luederwaldt, and R. Spitz at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1939, the collection was transferred to the Department of Zoology of the Office of Agriculture which, in 1969, was incorporated into the Universidade de São Paulo and called the Museu de Zoologia. In the 1940s, the Department of Zoology of the Agriculture’s Office hired Lauro Travassos, who initiated expeditions with emphasis on the collection of nocturnal lepidopterans. An expert in the Ctenuchidae family (currently Ctenuchini), he has invested in systematized collections in the State of São Paulo. Lauro Travassos was the last curator hired from the Lepidoptera Collection of MZUSP, where he remained until 1969. In 2006, MZUSP hired Marcelo Duarte, a researcher who, until then, was a fellow and a Young Researcher at FAPESP to develop the project “Systematics, Bionomics, and Evolution of Neotropical Lepidoptera” (2003-2006). Since the revitalization of the Lepidoptera Systematics Laboratory, the collection has received special attention from the researcher and his students to preserve and enhance it, with the commitment to make it accessible to as many interested people as possible.
The aid granted by FAPESP was extremely important to technical training scholarship holder and visiting researchers who, in collaboration with Prof. Duarte, returned to the collection the international prominence of past decades, which can be proven with the recent deposits of holotypes and paratypes of some foreign researchers.