Entomology Collections

The entomology collection consists of over 1,080,000 specimens (January 2019). The collection spans 1880 to present. Holdings are worldwide in coverage and comprise all major insect orders, with a particular focus on Coleoptera (86%) and Lepidoptera (12%). The collection also contains the terrestrial (including freshwater) non-arachnid, non-mollusc invertebrates (mainly millipedes, centipedes, and annelids). At its current rate, the collection is expected to grow by an average of 10,000 to 20,000 specimens per year, and the unprepared backlog is processed at a rate of 20,000 to 30,000 specimens per year. About 113,000 specimens of the entomology collection are currently catalogued and databased and can be freely accessed through the SCAN portal. In recent years, the collection was supported by three grants from the National Science Foundation.



The collection’s primary strength is its worldwide focus (60% of specimens from Africa, 25% regional and increasing, 15% from other regions), which distinguishes the Museum’s entomology collection from other large insect collections in the region, which have mainly regional holdings. Nevertheless, the Museum’s regional holdings are also strong, particularly in the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths, including micromoths) and in several families of Coleoptera (e.g., Scarabaeidae and Tenebrionidae). In 2008, curator of entomology Frank Krell initiated the creation of a Colorado State Reference Collection for Coleoptera (beetles), based on local holdings and further developed with a comprehensive collecting program across the state. Since its inception, the reference collection has multiplied in size and has resulted in several new state records but is still in need of thorough curation.


A history of the entomology collection is outlined in this paper, with an update about the move into our new Avenir Collections Center here.

LepNet Grant

The entomology collection was part of the LepNet consortium funded by the National Science Foundation. With the help of the grant-funded curatorial assistant Eric Knutson and a wonderful group of databasing volunteers, we databasied over 20,000 butterfly and moth specimens and photographed several thousand of them. Data and photos are becoming accessible online through the SCAN portal.  


Frank-Thorsten Krell, PhD

Senior Curator of Entomology

Andrew Doll, MS

Zoology Collections Manager

Cameron Pittman, MS

Assistant Collections Manager of Vertebrate Zoology

Genevieve Anderegg, MS

Assistant Collections Manager of Invertebrate Zoology

Courtney J. Scheskie, MA

Business Support Specialist III

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