Ferdinand J. Schmidt’s insect collection comprises mainly butterflies and beetles. Among the most interesting specimens in this interesting collection are cave beetles. In 1831, the assistant lamplighter Luka Čeč came across the first cave beetle in the Postojna Cave. He passed it on to Count Franz Hohenwart, who in turn sent it to Ferdinand Schmidt for professional processing. In 1832, Schmidt described it as a new genus and a new species – Leptodirus hochenwartii.

This discovery was of utmost significance for the history of Slovenian entomology, for it was the very first described cave insect in general. Till then, it had not been known that insects could even live in caves. As the first cave beetle specimen was damaged, Schmidt pledged to pay 25 goldinars to the finder of a new specimen of this kind. The attractive reward, however, was never paid. The second cave beetle specimen was found 16 years later in the very same place by Schmidt himself. When searching for the rare beetle, he in fact discovered a whole series of unknown cave animals in the Postojna Cave as well as in the caves nearby. The unforeseen find aroused immense interest around the entire globe and attracted numerous foreign researchers to visit Carniola. A new discipline in biology began, later named speleobiology.

For more information head to Invertebrates Collection – Historical collections.

Skip to content