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Honey bees making a new comb (photo by K. Darrow)
Ants, Bees, Wasps & Sawflies
The Hymenoptera Collection consists of about three million specimens including over 15,000 holotypes. More than 7,000 drawers house the pinned specimens and approximately 10,000 glass vials contain the preserved larvae and adults in alcohol.

The collection represents about 15% of the total entomological collections in the department, and is especially rich in Symphyta (sawflies), aculeates, and entomophagous parasites from worldwide locations.

Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa spp. (photo by K.Darrow)
The nucleus of the Hymenoptera collection was formed by a number of early researchers including C. V. Riley, T. Pergandé, E. A. Schwarz, and L. O Howard, but the USNM Hymenoptera holdings first acquired the status of a major collection with the acquisition of the Ashmead collection - numbering around 60,000 specimens - in 1898.
Trachymyrmex septentrionalis William H. Ashmead had originally been appointed by the USDA in 1887 to work on insect pests and their parasites. Later he was employed by the Smithsonian Institution as assistant curator and thus became, in 1897, the first USNM hymenopterist. James C. Crawford succeeded Ashmead as assistant curator in 1908 and centered his research on the Chalcidoidea, one of the largest groups of parasitoid wasps.
The Smithsonian currently has two curators of hymenoptera: Ted Schultz and Sean Brady. Ted and his colleagues in the SI AntLab focus their research largely on the systematics, phylogenetics, and biodiversity of ants (family Formicidae), especially the fungus-growing ants (tribe Attini, subfamily Myrmicinae). Sean's research focuses on understanding the origins, diversification, and molecular evolution of social insects, especially ants and bees. 

Three USDA Research Entomologists at the Museum (Mike Gates, Bob Kula, and Matt Buffington) are also Hymenopterists. Their studies focus on the systematics of parasitic and plant-feeding wasps of agricultural importance. More information on their research activities can be found on their staff pages on the USDA's Systematic Entomology Laboratory web site. Pycnostigmus hoerikwaggoensis (Cynipoidea: Figitidae)


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