Bee Macro photo

The KU entomology collection includes about 200 of these long-tongued, or orchid, bees from Central and South America. They are in the genus Exaerete (family Apidae, subfamily Apinae, tribe Euglossini). The metalic-looking Exaerete parasitizes the nests of other types of orchid bees, in the same way cuckoo birds do. By stealing space in the nests of other bees – behavior known as cleptoparasitism -- the bees do not have to build a home of their own or collect pollen to feed their young. The orchid bees that Exaerete parasitizes are the major pollinators of orchid flowers in the New World.

There are almost 20,000 known species of bees in the world. About half of them can be found among the 4.7 million catalogued specimens in the entomology collection, making it one of the most comprehensive bee collections in the world. Bees from every part of the world are represented, including those from hard-to-reach locations on the Arabian Peninsula, in central Africa and central Asia. Because the collection spans more than 140 years, researchers can examine changes to species across time, such as changes caused by climate change.

Entomology Collections

The Entomology collections at the KU Biodiversity Institute are estimated to contain over 4.8 million pinned and labeled specimens.

Entomology Collections photo

Much of the collection comprises a good general representation of North American insects in all orders. The collection is particularly outstanding, however, in insect groups intensively studied by curators and others long associated with the Museum, who through their own field work or through exchanges and purchases, assembled specialized collections according to their individual interests. Following are especially noteworthy parts of the Museum.
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Type Collection

Type Specimen Collection About 9,400 species are represented in Entomology's type collection, by holotypes or paratypes. Pinned holotypes and some paratypes are stored in a separate set of cabinets in the main collection room. Types for each species are included in an individual unit tray with species name, describer and type number on the header label. A handwritten catalog and card file includes original name, describer, date of description, and original reference for the description. An uncertain number of mite holotypes and paratypes, probably representing several hundred species, have not been segregated from the general mite collection.
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Researcher at camera

Loans and Exchanges

Entomology participates in loans and exchanges with qualified institutions and individuals.  Entomology researchers are aware that one of the most effective ways to improve the comparative base of collections and their potential as a research resource is through exchanges of specimens. We welcome exchanges of identified and properly documented material that will help improve the comparative base of our collection.
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Amegilla anekawarna

Collection Strengths

Much of the Museum's holdings comprise a good general representation of North American insects in all orders. The collection is particularly outstanding, however, in insect groups intensively studied by curators and others long associated with the Museum, who through their own field work or through exchanges and purchases, assembled specialized collections according to their individual interests, including Apoidea (bees), aquatic Hemiptera (water bugs), fossil insects, and more.
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