Systematic entomology as the study and ordering of insect biodiversity is a material-based practice that relies on insect bodies as a resource. Especially large amounts of insect specimens were collected and traded globally in the decades surrounding the turn of the twentieth century, often relying on colonial infrastructures. Taking colonial-era Taiwan as a case study, this paper asks under which circumstances specific places became collecting sites. It takes a series of articles on the insect fauna of the island as a point of departure, titled H. Sauter’s Formosa-Ausbeute after the German naturalist who sent the specimens around the world in the early twentieth century. It explores how collecting specimens was entangled with colonial infrastructure projects, insect policies, and forest-based industries. After Taiwan became a Japanese colony in 1895, newly constructed railways, including push car lines and logging trains, gave naturalists access to inner frontiers. Conversely, insects moved into the spotlight by disrupting these same infrastructures. A rush into the mountains was brought on by the island’s abundance in old growth forests, as evergreen trees such as camphor laurels became valuable export resources. The location of insect collecting sites was determined not just by ecological factors but by forest-based industries and colonial policies as well. As ancient trees were felled and aboriginal peoples violently displaced, insect collectors followed colonial infrastructures into the mountains, resulting in what a German entomologist called the “mass fabrication” of articles about Taiwan’s insect fauna.

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