With over 35 million specimens, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History is home to one of the largest entomological collections in the world. Specimens and their associated data are used as the basis for original collections-based research on the taxonomy, life history, geography, and evolutionary history of insects, arachnids, and myriapods. The collections are world-wide in scope and include large holdings of medically and agriculturally important species making parts of the collection especially significant as sources of research as to the evolutionary relationships and identification of insect pests.

insect on flower

Collection Highlights


The tick collection is one of the largest in the world. Housed at Georgia Southern University since 1990, it has over one million specimens including specimens from every continent.
More about the Acarina collection


The collection of Coleoptera (includes beetles) at the NMNH is one of the world's largest, consisting of more than seven million specimens, including over twenty thousand primary types, all housed in about twelve thousand museum drawers.
More about the Coleptera collection


The USNM Diptera collection (includes true flies) comprises some 3,200,000 pinned specimens representing some 55,900 species, more than 600,000 slide-mounted specimens, and some 22,000 primary types. A genomic collection with currently more than 2,500 specimens preserved in liquid Nitrogen is growing steadily. 
More about the Diptera collectoin


The Hymenoptera collection (includes ants, bees, wasps, and sawflies) consists of about three million specimens including over 15,000 holotypes. 
More about the Hymenoptera collection


The Lepidoptera collection (includes butterflies and moths) has over 4 million specimens and includes more than 25,000 primary types. It has the most complete representation of both larvae (123,000 specimens) and adults in the Western Hemisphere. 
More about the Lepidoptera collection