The earliest scientific societies were founded in Europe in the mid-16th and early 17th centuries, but the first entomological societies came about in England in the mid-18th century for the purpose of sharing knowledge of the Lepidoptera. These were the Society of Aurelians (also called the [first] Aurelian Society, formed sometime between 1720 and 1742) and its successor, the (second) Aurelian Society, formed in 1762. "Aurelia" is a classical name for the chrysalis of a butterfly; an aurelian is a butterfly collector. The (first) Aurelian Society was finished by the Great Cornhill Fire of 1748; the second ceased in 1767 because of personality clashes among members; a third Aurelian Society, founded in 1801, disappeared by 1806.
The oldest entomological society still in existence—the Entomological Club of London, founded in 1826—has had only eight members at a time since its inception and meets one evening each month to dine at members' homes or other places. It also hosts the annual Verrall Supper for entomologists, a tradition since 1887. The oldest existing national entomological societies are Société Entomologique de France (1832), the Royal Entomological Society (London) (1833), and the Nederlandsche Entomologische Vereeniging (1845). See Table I for a list of societies that are 100 years old or older and are still in existence as of 2001.
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