The Entomology Collection of the Museum of Comparative Zoology is among the richest and historically most significant in North America, containing more than 7,500,000 specimens and the primary types of more than 33,000 species. The ant collection, alone comprising nearly a million specimens, is the largest and most important in the world. The fossil insect collection is the second most important one in the world.
The MCZ entomology collection is second only to the Smithsonian Institution in North America for primary type holdings (the Smithsonian has about 99,000 types). Our type records list more than 33,000 holotypes, lectotypes, neotypes, and syntype series. The collections richest in type material are the Coleoptera (comprising about 50% of the types), Diptera, Neuroptera (s. l.), and Hymenoptera (especially ants). The Entomology Primary Type Database is a searchable database with label data and more than 83,500 images representing 16,701 species, including Coleoptera, Diptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, and other Orders of insects. The collection is also searchable through MCZbase as well as through iDigBio and GBIF.
Several historically important collections are housed at Harvard, including the type-rich beetle collections of Horn, LeConte, Melsheimer, Bowditch, Fall and Darlington. The collections in many smaller orders are also among the most important in North America, i.e., Trichoptera, Odonata, Psocoptera, Neuroptera and Collembola.
The collection is taxonomically distributed as follows:
- Coleoptera (48%)
- Hymenoptera (33%)
- Lepidoptera (7%)
- Diptera (6%)
- Other orders (5%)
- Fossils (1%)