two grasshoppers each with one orange wings open, mirroring eachother

Entomology Collection

The Entomology collection at the KU Biodiversity Institute is estimated to contain over 4.9 million pinned and labeled specimens.

Collection Search

Particular strengths lie in global bee diversity, aquatic beetles, and Midwestern, Mexican, and tropical insects.

In addition to the 4.9 million pinned and labeled specimens, KU Entomology collections are estimated to contain approximately 87,000 specimens mounted on slides and nearly 40,000 vials containing varying numbers of specimens that are permanently stored in this way (total of approximately 4.5 million specimens in arranged collection). Specimens in the backlog, individual specimens stored in lots in alcohol, unsorted specimens in bulk storage, and other types of unsorted specimens are not included in the specimen count. The KU Entomology specimens can be searched and individual data-sets downloaded via the main Specify Entomology database. Those specifically interested in aquatic beetles should also search the Specify Aquatic Coleoptera database which lists KU and other resources. 

Type Collection

About 9,400 species are represented in Entomology's type collection, by holotypes or paratypes. Pinned holotypes and some paratypes are stored in a separate set of cabinets in the main collection room. Types for each species are included in an individual unit tray with species name, describer and type number on the header label. A handwritten catalog and card file includes original name, describer, date of description, and original reference for the description. An uncertain number of mite holotypes and paratypes, probably representing several hundred species, have not been segregated from the general mite collection.

Loans and Exchanges

The Division of Entomology encourages loans and exchanges with qualified institutions.  Loan requests should be made to the collection management staff or appropriate curator. One of the most effective ways to improve the comparative base of collections and their potential as a research resource is through exchanges of specimens. We welcome exchanges of identified and properly documented material that will help improve the comparative base of our collection.

Please contact: Dr. Zachary H. Falin or Dr. Rachel K. Osborn


A large, world-wide collection of about 550,000 specimens, originally brought together by the late Prof. C. D. Michener through his own extensive field work in North and South America, Africa, Australia, and to some extent Asia. This collection has been augmented by the efforts of his students and others, as well as by several exchanges and a few purchases. This is currently one of the most active parts of the entire Museum, and is continuously in use by a large number of bee specialists in all parts of the world. The collection grew extensively in central Asiatic and Arabian material through the efforts of Prof. Engel and by the addition of 55,000 specimens from the Donald and Madge Baker Collection.

The aquatic beetle collection contains approximately 250,000 specimens and includes representation from all aquatic families, with a special emphasis on the Hydrophiloidea, Noteridae, and Myxophaga. It is worldwide in scope, but is particularly strong in Neotropical taxa. It is one of the most rapidly expanding parts of the collection, due to the efforts of Professor Short and his research group. A Specify search portal for these specimens is available.

Currently comprises about 350,000 specimens and developed under the efforts of the late Prof. J. S. Ashe and his students. It is especially rich in Neotropical taxa from numerous localities but also includes diverse representative material from Europe, Japan, and North America.

Currently comprising about 35,000 specimens, the core of which is the collection of the late Prof. Peter Ashlock which was bequest to the museum in 1989. The Ashlock collection alone consists of about 26,600 specimens and is world-wide in scope. This is one of the most comprehensive collections of members of this family in North America.

Although comprising only about 26,000 specimens, this is probably the largest collection of this order in the world and surely the largest in number of species represented. Largely the result of the late Prof. G. W. Byers' collecting, a few important purchases from professional collectors, and a variety of exchanges.

A large world-wide collection that continues to grow primarily through the efforts of Profs. Byers and Engel.

This collection, with a broad selection of New World and Old World taxa, now fills 100 drawers and numbers about 20,000 specimens. With recent Neotropical expeditions, the Central and South American fauna is becoming well-represented.

The collection has a particular emphasis on amber inclusions from throughout the world (mostly from the Baltic) and compression fossils from the Midwest.

Another major collection world-wide in scope and representing about 20 families of aquatic and semi-aquatic hemipterans, assembled by the late Prof. H. B. Hungerford over a period of 45 years. Many North American specimens were collected by Hungerford himself, but he purchased huge numbers of specimens from professional collectors as well, and made many exchanges. Now, nearly 35 years after his death, his collection remains a rich source of new species and of rare forms useful in comparative studies.

A North American collection of some 200,000 pinned specimens and perhaps 20,000 microscope slides of genitalic dissections, the work of the late Prof. R. H. Beamer and his many students. Beamer, a tireless collector, brought these materials together essentially from his own field work and that of students accompanying him. This collection is continually in use by currently active students of leafhoppers in this country and abroad.

A collection of some 60,000 specimens, chiefly from North America but with modest representation from Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe. This collection has been built mainly by the late Prof. G. W. Byers' field work throughout the U. S., Canada and Mexico and brief periods of collecting in Europe, Asia and Central America. Additional specimens have been obtained from his students, other collectors, exchanges and gifts.

The combined efforts of the late Profs. K. C. Doering, P. B. Lawson, and others brought together this rather large and very diverse collection of about 30,000 specimens of Homoptera.

Entomology houses about 300 polistine/polybiine wasp nests, representing nests of at least 18 genera, as well as substantial representation of nests of other taxa. This is one of the largest collections of this type of insect architecture in North America.