The INHS Insect Collection, which comprises ca. 7 million prepared specimens as well as noninsect arthropods (e.g., arachnids and myriapods) and miscellaneous invertebrates (bryozoans), is one of the largest and oldest entomological collections in North America.

Specimen holdings emphasize the upper midwestern USA but are global in scope for certain groups, particularly Coleoptera, Collembola, Diptera, Hemiptera (Auchenorrhyncha), Hymenoptera (Apoidea), Lepidoptera, Plecoptera, Psocodea (Psocoptera + Phthiraptera), Thysanoptera and Trichoptera.  The collection contains significant historical holdings from Illinois dating to the mid-1800s, including at least 3,079 primary and >10,000 secondary type specimens.

Database, Specimens, and Access

To request a loan of specimens, please use our loan request form, and our collection manager will respond to you within 2 business days.

A snapshot of our collections database (~June 2023), representing label data for approximately 35% of the collection holdings, is accessible via the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) portal. More detailed data is available upon request from the collection manager via the loan request form.

Specimen loans are available to qualified researchers. Loans are generally made for a period of two years, renewable upon request. Primary types are generally loaned for a period of three months from the date received by the borrower and are non-renewable. Holotypes, allotypes, and a major portion of the type series of each species described based on INHS specimens must be returned. Details of the collection policy are here.

The collection is open to the general public, but only by requested appointment only. Tours are generally done on the 15th or 1st of the month, or whatever the closest business day available is to those dates. Email the collection manager or head curator to arrange a tour.

Location and access

The INHS insect collection is housed on the second floor of the Natural Resources Building on the campus of the University of Illinois (rooms 285, 291 and 296).

Access to the collection by qualified researchers, normally available from 8:30am-5pm M-F may be arranged by contacting the collection manager, Dr. Tommy McElrath or curator  Dr. Chris Dietrich.

To request a loan of specimens, please use our loan request form, and our collection manager will respond to you within 2 business days.

Acquisitions and Maintenance

In general, specimens will not be accessioned unless they have been properly curated and have data that includes at least the collection locality and date. Standard methods of preserving, maintaining, and mounting specimens are followed. Pest control procedures include the limited use of naphthalene, scheduled inspections of all drawers in the collection, fumigation/freezing of all incoming pinned material, avoidance of food and water sources in the collection, and general housekeeping.