Invertebrate Zoology

The Collection

Carnegie Museum of Natural History invertebrate holdings are worldwide in coverage, especially Afrotropical and Neotropical regions. Most specimens in the collection are in the Phylum Arthropoda, with greatest emphasis on insects, myriapods, arachnids, and crustacea. The Mollusca may be found in the Mollusks section.

The insect collection contains an estimated 13 million specimens of which more than 7 million are prepared, labelled, and ready for study. Primary strength is Lepidoptera and Coleoptera but with strong collections in Diptera, Odonata, Heteroptera, Homoptera, Hymenoptera, and Siphonaptera. These collections augment studies by staff, but their greatest use is for research by hundreds of specialists worldwide where they constitute the basis for numerous scientific publications. These collections benefit present and future generations, and in their immensity comprise a public trust as a unique record of the natural world.

Types and other Collections 

  • The number of primary types exceeds 7,500 and most of those are Lepidoptera and Coleoptera.
  • Click here to see a summary of other unique and special collections held by the section.
  • Click here to reach searchable databases of specimens in the collections.
  • Click here for an interactive table detailing the number of drawers of each family for major regions of the world.

NSF Project 

A multi-phase effort initiated in 1981 has provided major improvements in specimen storage for insects, especially Lepidoptera. Many new storage drawers, an 8,000-drawer compactorized storage system, new rooms, offices, and other improvements were made possible by this large project.

Taxonomic Composition 

Based on an estimated 7.4 million specimens in 24,724 drawers.


Curatorial Status of Dried Arthropod Collections (1999)  


Preparation and Labeling of Insect Specimens (1990–2004)  

Based on average growth of 82,078 specimens per year