Á safninu eru til sýnis fulltrúar þriggja íslenskra landspendýrategunda, þ.e. refa minka og hagamúsa. Alls finnast sex tegundir spendýra villtar á Íslandi, en það eru auk framataldra tegunda, hreindýr, húsamýs og brúnrottur. Einungis refurinn er upprunalegur, aðrar hafa flust hingað með manninum.

Uppstoppaður útselsbrimill og beinagrind úr háhyrningi eru fulltrúar íslenskra sjávarspendýra, en auk þess á stofan nokkuð af hvalabeinum sem alla jafna eru ekki til sýnis. Talsvert sýningarefni er að auki um hvali og lifnaðarhætti þeirra.

Hér að neðan er fjallað sérstaklega um hvern hóp þeirra spendýra sem finnast villt á Íslandi og umhverfis það.


The family of butterflies (Lepidoptera) counts about 165.000 species in 127 genera. The larvae are usually herbivores, but the adults have suckers and live on flower sap. About 60 species live in Iceland, but including strays, about 100 species have been found here. The majority of Icelandic butterflies belong to three families, namely Geometridae, Noctuidae and Tortricidae.


The easiest way to recognize Geometridae is that they like to rest with their wings spread. In this country there are 16 species of geometridaes (Geometridae), examples of which include birch wood Geometridae , tundra Geometridae and autumn Geometridae . Fall Geometridae is often noticeable in October.


Rather large and bulky butterflies, much heavier than the legs and big gluttons. They can therefore cause damage to vegetation and the caterpillar, which is the larva of the grasshopper etc. the best known example. Some types of caterpillars prefer certain types of plants, and the name Melanchra pisi indicates a special fondness for pea grass, although there are many other things on the menu.


These butterflies can be recognized by the fact that they rest their wings against the body so that the wings cover the body. There are eight species of weavers Tortricidae living in this country. These butterflies are sometimes confused with spring flies (Trichoptera), which are completely unrelated.
On this page you can, among other things, see some different types of webs (in English).

Wandering butterflies can be divided into two groups depending on whether they arrive here on their own or with goods. Some of the butterflies that fly here of their own accord are annual visitors.
There are some annual vagrants who arrive here under their own wing power, e.g. gamma ray (Autographa gamma), ornamental ray (Phlogophora meticulosa) and in the past two years it has had some effect on monarch butterflies (Agrius convolvuli) and admiral butterflies (Vanessa atalanta).


Beetles (Coleoptera) is a multi-ordered tribe that contains 166 genera and about 370 thousand. species. In this country, around 160 species have been found, plus strays. Their main characteristic is that the front pair of wings is transformed into a shield, under which are the flight wings. They are varied in size, color and shape and can be very decorative. On the website of the Icelandic Institute of Natural Sciences, you can find reviews and photographs of numerous Icelandic beetle species, as well as other information about beetles.

Carabidae: In the group of carabidae the most familiar are the so called járnsmiðir. In this country, about 30 types of járnsmiðir have been found, but it is estimated that there are about 20 thousand in total. species in the world. They are predators.

Staphylinitae are tall beetles with short carapace wings so that the hind body is exposed. The wings are folded under the carapace and are therefore not visible. Of these, about 70 species have been found, but it is estimated that about 20 thousand. species found in the world. They are predators.

Frog Beetles (Curculionidae): As the name suggests, the head shape of frog beetles (Curculionidae) is distinctive. The animal’s mouth is at the front of a rana or totu that extends from its head. Shield wings are fused and the animals are flightless. It is estimated that about 20 teg. live in Iceland, but a number of sleds have also been found. It is believed that there are about 40 thousand. species in the world and thus this is the largest beetle family. Frog beetles are herbivores, both in the larval and adult stages.

Ladybugs (Coccinellidae) are the closest hemispherical, usually with brightly colored shield wings with black spots. Of these, about 3400 species are known, but only two live in Iceland. They are predators and are considered particularly useful in the fight against aphids.

Well beetles (Dytiscidae): There are about 4000 known species of well beetles (Dytiscidae), of which 4 live in Iceland. Water beetles live in ponds and hold air for breathing under their carapace wings. They are well-disposed and thus move between ponds. They are predators as well as their larvae, called water cats.


Crustaceans are a large class of invertebrates belonging to the same phylum as do insects, namely Arthropoda. Most crustaceans live in saltwater, but some, such as the cladocerans, live in freshwater. Most crustaceans have a hard skeleton of calcium carbonate (CaCO³) enveloping the body. They grow by moulting in quick bursts of growth, called metamorphoses. When metamorphosing, the exoskeleton dissolves, the soft tissue grows and enlarges, and a new hard exoskeleton forms around the animal.

World: ~50.000 species. Iceland: 150


Diptera is one of the main families of insects and consists of 130 genera of about 120 thousand. species. About 300 species live in this country. These insects differ from others in that they have only one pair of wings. This group includes many of the flies that are prominent in this country, e.g. moths, fish flies and house flies.


The genus Hymenoptera consists of 91 families, but within them there are about 200 thousand. species. Eddywings are divided into two subtribes, sawflies on the one hand and wasps, wasps, ants, bees and honeybees on the other. About 260 species of kingfishers have been found in Iceland.

In Iceland, four types of wasps are known, but they are burrowing wasps, house wasps, arboreal wasps and red wasps. It is safe to say that wasps are among the most unpopular bugs in the country. This is due to the fact that they have a stinger for their defense, which is connected to a venom gland. The poison is intended for defense, not hunting, and is formulated in such a way that it causes significant discomfort, but is not dangerous except in exceptional cases. This applies if people are allergic to it or if the sting is in a bad place, e.g. close to the respiratory system. It is estimated that around 3% of people may be allergic to wasp stings. It is worth pointing out that it is important to use mosquito nets on prams. Then it’s a good idea to get used to drinking beer or sweet drinks from glasses outside, as wasps sometimes want to end up in drinking containers.

All types of wasps that are found in the country make their homes, and their location depends somewhat on the species. Thus, hornet nests are usually underground, e.g. in crevices or under rock caves, while tree wasp colonies are in trees or under eaves.

If you want to propose a solution to a wasp colony, it is best to contact someone who knows how to do it. If people are going to do this themselves, good and tight clothing is necessary, so that the defense team cannot get down to the neck or up to the sleeves. Indoors, it is good to use hairspray for hunting, but it clumps the wings together and clogs their respiratory system. Then you can prepare or buy wasp traps where suitable for them with sweet liquid. Such traps can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Honey bees
Plump and furry flies, black and yellow in color. They are large by the standards of Icelandic insects. Five species have been found in Iceland and two of them are common. Many people are afraid of honeybees, but there is almost no reason for that. Although they are equipped with a poisonous sting for defense like the wasps, they are not aggressive and do not sting unless the person has worked for it.


A diverse group (10 thousand species) that have in common that they lay their eggs in the larvae of other insects. Some have a long nesting tube and can even search for beetle larvae in tree trunks. Many types of nematodes are restricted to certain hosts, ie. larvae of certain insect species. Once the wasp has found a suitable host, it drills its nesting tube into it and lays a single egg. The larva that crawls out of it immediately begins to eat the host, but in such a careful way that the host survives until the larva is fully developed.

Saw wasps

A characteristic of these wasps is that their tail pipe is transformed into a n.k. a saw blade that is useful for making slots in plant stems for the wasp’s eggs.

Tree wasps

These scooters have a long proboscis which they use to bore holes in trees. An egg is then laid in the hole and the larva feeds on the wood. So far, these wasps have only been found as strays in this country.

House mite

The house mite (Hypoponera punctatissima) is 2-4 mm long and rather easily recognized by the n.k. secondary joint between front body and back body. In this country, it mainly stays under the floorboards of houses, where the soil has subsided. It is often found in the vicinity of poor pipes that create ideal conditions for them, i.e. heat, humidity and lively micro-fauna.

Usually, house mite are not noticed except when queens leave colonies to start new ones. The queens are winged, but all other members of the colony are wingless. House ants are often considered a pest in this country, but due to the location of the farms, it can be difficult to get rid of them. If poor pipes are suspected, the best course of action is to fix them, and it should then be possible to get to the ants along the way.

Main sources:

Fjölva’s big insect book. Author: V.J. Stanek (Thorsteinn Torarensen translated and localized). Ed. Macro 1974.
Land protection publication no. 9 – Bugs. Editor: Hrefna Sigurjónsdóttir and Árni Einarsson. Ed. Land Conservancy 1989.
Polygraph of the Institute of Natural Sciences no. 17 – Icelandic insect number. Author: Erling Ólafsson. Ed. Icelandic Institute of Natural Sciences 1991.
Polygraph of the Institute of Natural Sciences no. 32 – Butterflies in Iceland 1995. Author: Erling Erling Ólafsson and Hálfdán Björnsson. Ed. Icelandic Institute of Natural Sciences 1997.
Insects, spiders and other terrestrial arthropods (Dorling Kindersley Handbooks). Author: George C. McGavin. Ed. Dorling Kindersley limited, London 2000.
Hidden world, small animals in Iceland. Court: Guðmundur Halldórsson, Oddur Sigurðsson and Erling Ólafsson. Ed. Size and shape ehf. 2002

The website of the Icelandic Institute of Natural Sciences

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