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photograph of the entomology collections(photo by Chip Clark)

The U.S. National Entomological Collection ranks as the second largest insect collection in the world with approximately 35 million specimens including over 100,000 holotypes plus hundreds of thousands of additional paratypes and other secondary types.

The collection includes over 300,000 species representing approximately 60% of known insect families. With specimens from locations worldwide, the collections are second to none in coverage for the Nearctic and Neotropical regions. Specimens from the Old World are also well represented, especially from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. Particular strengths include mosquitoes, wasps, beetles, butterflies and moths, and flies. Although the bulk of the collection is kept dry, various groups—such as spiders—are stored in alcohol.

The collections are typically arranged by taxon; lower categories (genus, species) are arranged alphabetically, and for select taxa, they are further organized by country of origin within each species.

While the majority of the collection is housed at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, some groups are held at other research facilities in nearby Maryland, including the USDA's Agricutural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution's Museum Support Center in Suitland, Maryland.

Collections Profiles and Contact information

Link to Arachnida Collection Profiles
Link to Acarina Collection Profiles
Link to Myriapoda Collection Profiles
Link to Coleoptera page
Link to Diptera page
Link to Ephemeroptera Collections Profiles
Link to Heteroptera Collection Profiles
Link to Homoptera Collection Profiles
Link to Hymenoptera page
Link to Lepidoptera page
Link to Neuropterida Collection Profiles
Link to Odonata Collection Profiles
Link to Collection Profiles: miscellaneous orders
Link to Collections Profiling Standards

The collections at the Agricultural Research Center include the Acari (mites), the Sternorrhyncha (aphids, whiteflies, scale insects and jumping plant lice), and one of the largest Isoptera (termites) collections in the world.

The collections at the Museum Support Center constitute roughly 20% of insect holdings. Some of the groups stored entirely at MSC are the mosquitoes and other biting flies, crane flies, lice, fleas, ichneumonid wasps, mantids and walkingsticks, saturniid and sphingid moths, and papilionid butterflies.

Link to Entomology Collections Management Procedures
  Link to Insect Collection News PDFs
Link to NMNH Collections Management Policy PDF
  Link to 1990 Entomological Collections Network Document


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