Visit Entomological Collections at NMNH, SI
The largest and most important collection of insect specimens and
vouchers in North America is housed in the Smithsonian Institution,
National Museum of Natural History, located on the Mall in
Washington, D. C. One may approach the museum from the Mall or from
Constitution Avenue at 10th Street. The building can be recognized
by its large round dome. Here in front of the Mall side of the
museum are Lloyd Knutson and Ron Hodges, formers leaders of the
Systematic Entomology Laboratory, USDA
To see the insect collections, one must get permission from one of
the curators or collection managers. Do not mind the look they may
give you as despite the pile on work on their desks, they look
forward to the opportunity to help visiting colleagues. By the way,
this is Terry Erwin, perhaps regretting he ever suggested that
there were more than 30 million species of insects.
The collection is merely large number of insect cabinets, such as
these. To find things, one merely search the labels on the cabinets
for the appropriate scientific name, usually that of the order and
family of species one seeks.
Each cabinet contains a series of drawers. The drawer labels list the contents, usually by giving the name of the appropriate family
Each drawer contains a series of unit trays. Each unit tray has a
label identifying its contents. Only specimens of one species are
placed in a unit. Frequently the unit label has a color coded dot
to indicated the biotic regions from which the material came.
Each specimen or voucher will have labels indicating where the
specimen was collected and by whom. When the label data has been
entered into specimen-label database, then an unique bar code is
Some feel that this way to visit a museum to obtain BioSystematic
Information is hard work. They are right. And that is a problem
that museum curators and collection managers must solve for they
are the source of the problem.
Some feel that new technologies, like computers and networks, can
solve the problems of access to Biosystematic Information. To them
the charging 5th Cavarly is an appropriate symbol, because their
dissemination strategy is based on that of the Nathan Bedford
Git thar fustest with the mostest.
So, return to our Diptera World Wide Web site and see how we want to disseminate Biosystematic Information in the 21st century.