Saturday, December 7, 2013

Insect Collection Census

Recently I've been working more in my insect collection, sorting and labeling new specimens and ordering more drawers and cabinets so I can properly organize everything.  I decided it was time to re-count everything, as the last time I did that was at least 7 or 8 years ago.
About 12 or 14 years ago I was given a large old cabinet full of mostly butterflies and moths, with a few other insects, by a friend and mentor who was retiring and moving out of town.  Most of the specimens had been collected by him and his mother, and many were from other parts of the world, outside of the US.  The collection had been moved several times and had not been regularly cared for, so many of the specimens were missing some or all of their labels.  It was a huge project to identify the specimens, and I'm still working on some of them, but it has been a great way to learn about world-wide butterflies.  This core collection is made up of about 1,800 specimens, and when I first counted them and the rest of my collection, the specimens I had personally collected came to just over 200.
My latest census came to a total of 3,820 specimens!  This includes both personally-collected and gifted specimens.  Here is the breakdown:
Mounted (prepared specimens on pins) Lepidoptera = 2,530
Mounted other insects (mostly beetles) = 652
Papered (still in envelopes, not mounted) Lepidoptera = 632
Papered other insects = 6
Included in those totals are 317 micro-moths, given to me with the old collection, and I have yet to ID them.  These are the very tiny, mostly brown moths that come to lights at night or fly during the day and are rarely noticed by most people.

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