Entomology Collection at the Academy of Natural Sciences

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University holds one of the larger and taxonomically complete entomological collections in North America. It includes some of the earliest North American insect specimens, and some of the collection, such as the Orthoptera and related orders (grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, cockroaches, etc) ranks among the best in the world. The collection is used by scientists worldwide in systematic and ecological research, in the education of students at Drexel University, and in public programming at the Academy throughout the year.

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An added note for searches of type specimens in Coleoptera and Lepidoptera:

The Academy exchanged portions of its Lepidoptera and Coleoptera collections, including some types, with the Carnegie Museum (Lepidoptera) and Museum of Comparative Zoology (Coleoptera) in the 1960-1970 period. If a type is listed for ANSP in the original description but is not found in a search of our database, it may be that the type is now at the Carnegie (Pittsburgh, PA) or the MCZ, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA). Please be aware though that we still have substantial holdings of Coleoptera and Lepidoptera, including primary types.

A Digital Species Index of the Entomology Collection

A digital species index to The Academy of Natural Sciences’ Entomology Collection. $150,000.
IMLS-Museums for America, MA-05-10-0001-10. FUNDED Oct. 2010-Sept. 2013. Additional Academy match of $150,000.

This project, funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. October 2012-September 2013, involves creating a digital index for this large research collection in concert with a facility renovation and recuration project to be carried out during the period 2010-2013. Transfer of insect specimens to a renovated storage system has provided a unique opportunity to create a master index of all species represented in the collection that can be searched by researchers via the Internet. Indexing through the use of a relational database also facilitates tracking of changes in specimen storage location, updating nomenclatural changes on the labels of storage cases, and updating nomenclatural changes on digital products including future specimen databases for particular taxonomic groups. The resulting index will enable researchers around the world to submit on-line queries and determine whether or not specimens needed for ongoing research projects are represented in the ANSP Entomology Collection.

The current listing of fields as of September 2012 in the Excel data input template (aka SPINDEX file) is as follows:

Unique Drawer Number (for drawer), Input by (person), Order, Family, Genus, Species, Subspecies, Author, Subfamily, Tribe, Subgenus, Species group, Count of specimens, Count of paratypes, See type collection, Primary type, Curation (drawer, vial rack, etc), Type of preparation(slide, pinned, vial), Comments, current classification: Family, Genus, Species, Author.

All specimen drawers and similar containers are being barcoded (Fig. 1) to allow all species to be located in the collection, and to enable us to monitor pest problems in the drawers following cycling of the pinned collection through -20C freezing.


Fig. 1.  Photo showing bar code label affixed to specimen storage drawer.

Re-housing of the Entomology Collection, with renovation of the HVAC system and ceiling

Renovation of the Academy of Natural Sciences’ Entomology Department Research Collection & Associated Lab. $1,051,265. (with D. Otte). NSF: DEB: Academic Research Infrastructure (ARI). DBI-0963474. FUNDED Oct 2010-Sept. 2013. Additional Academy contribution of $170,400

This award is providing funds to improve the storage, environmental conditions and curation of the entomology collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences. The funding provides a new collection storage compactor system for the main part of the entomology collection which will prevent pest intrusion, light infiltration and climate fluctuation while providing some desperately needed increase in storage capacity for this steadily increasing collection. In addition the Academy is renovating the HVAC system for this section of the building as well as in the Ornithology Collection (which is being funded by RAC-P Redevelopment Assistance Capitol Program), improving climate conditions, and install new “clean” ceiling tiles to further reduce places for museum pests to accumulate. An additional room is also having HVAC renovation to allow it to serve as a ethanol collection storage facility for entomology (funded through RAC-P funding). We expect the compactor installation, HVAC renovation and clean ceiling tile installation to be complete by January 2013, with collection re-curation efforts continuing until September 2014.

Renovation Photos



Last data update on March 10, 2014