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Insect Collection & Museum

The UW Oshkosh Insect Collection (UWOIC) and Museum of the Department of Biology is located in Halsey Science Center. The insect collection serves many purposes: teaching (specimens are used in classes to represent groups of insects being discussed); research (specimens from research projects are housed in the collection for future reference); consulting (inquiries made by local citizens concerning their insect problems); and outreach activities (local school classes tour the museum or talks are given at local/area schools with specimens from the collection used as examples).

The collection consists of approximately 200,000 specimens. All pinned or pointed specimens are stored in 21 Cornell or U.S. National Museum (12 drawers each) insect cabinets. Three of these cabinets contains study specimens of all major orders and families of insects and are directly accessible by students for study and reference purposes. In addition, five vial cabinets (10 drawers each) are for storage of specimens preserved in alcohol.. The collection also has approximately 1200 microscope slides that have been purchased commercially, prepared by students or the result of research projects.

Total numbers of pinned or pointed specimens for major groups of insects in the collection are: Coleoptera 7025; Lepidoptera 3293; Diptera 2754; Hymenoptera 2533; Hemiptera 2615; Orthoptera 771; and Odonata 394. Some adults of these and other Orders are preserved in alcohol. There are approximately 10,000 vials with alcohol-preserved adult and immature specimens. Most of these vials have multiple specimens and no attempt has been made to count each specimen. Many of the alcohol-preserved specimens are aquatic immature insects. There are several thousand specimens of Chironomidae larvae resulting from a multiple-year study of chironomid populations in Lake Winnebago and the feeding habits of lake sturgeon. The collection also includes approximately 9,000 Australian specimens most of which are aquatic species, especially Trichoptera larvae (3,922 specimens), all of which are identified to family and many to species.

Essentially all specimens have appropriate collection data labels. Many of the specimens were donated by students enrolled in the entomology classes. Most of these are local, regional or state specimens. However, specimens have been collected throughout the U.S.

In 2011 the UWOIC became a part of a regional (22 Midwestern collections) digitization effort (Invertnet) funded by NSF’s Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections. Currently about 5,000 specimens have been digitized for this on-going project.

Associated with the Insect collection is an endowment held by the UW Oshkosh Foundation. This endowment provides money that is awarded to a student (undergraduate or graduate) whose responsibilities include assisting the staff entomologist in curating the insect collection. The award is usually made during the spring semester for the following academic year and provides financial help partially off-setting the student’s tuition and academic fees. The awardee is selected by a committee of faculty members chaired by the entomologist in charge of the collection.

The current professor emeritus in charge of the collection has a personal insect collection (approximately 7,000) and an entomological library that will be donated to the UWO Foundation with the stipulation that the specimens, journals, reprints, books, reference keys, etc. remain with the UWOIC in perpetuity.