The U.S. National Entomological Collection (USNM) traces its origins in part to the acquisition of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Collection of 138,000 specimens donated in 1885. These specimens became the foundation of one of the world’s largest and most important accessible entomological collections, with over 33 million specimens taken care of by the combined staff of three government agencies: the Smithsonian Institution; the Systematic Entomology Laboratory (Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture); and the Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit (Walter Reed Army Institute of Research).
Close to 300,000 records are currently available in this online catalog, including the Primary Type Specimens Inventory, Specimen Inventory and Species Inventory. Also available are the Illustration Archive records that include images and data about published scientific illustrations.
We recommend using Search by Field (Scientific Name or Precise Locality) for best results, but you can also search by Keywords. You may also restrict your search to Primary Type Specimens, Species Inventory, Specimen Inventory, records with images, records with geo-referenced localities, or Illustrations.
Search results are sorted by taxonomic group and limited to 5,000 records. If you need to retrieve a larger record set, please contact the Department of Entomology’s Collection Information Manager. You can also customize the sort and fields to be seen in the results.
See the Help tab to learn more about searching and then exploring your returned results (sorting, exporting, etc.).
||Search the Primary Type Specimens Catalog
||Search the Specimen Inventory
||Search the Species Inventory
||Search the Illustration Archive
Use the By Field search to find specimen data that match values in specific database fields.
Enter a value or choose one from the dropdown lists. Use the Illustration Archive, Types, Specimen and Species Inventory
searches to narrow the results to those specific catalogs.
Click the Search button to initiate a search. Clear resets all fields.
Some lists are linked, so for example, choosing a Country narrows the choices for
Province/State/Territory, and District/County. Dropdown choices also
narrow as you type, for example, typing coen in the Family field might narrow the choice to Coenagrionidae.
Check Only Records with Images if you want to restrict the search to records with multimedia content.
You can force an exact search by surrounding your search text in double-quotes. Exact means exact,
the search is case-sensitive and must match the value of the entire field. An exact search will also
take much longer to complete.
You will receive a warning when you enter invalid information in the text fields. For example,
Catalog Numbers are composed strictly of letters and numbers; other characters raise a warning.
Enter your keywords separated by spaces and click Search. Records that match your search
terms will be returned.
You can join terms with OR to match any, e.g. chihuahua OR sonora
- You can include the terms image(s) or type(s) to find records that have images or that are type specimens.
Note that searching for common (vernacular) names may not yield the expected results. Associating common names with specimen records is a work in progress.
Keyword search example: cicindela chihuahua type
The results of your searches can be displayed in Grid (a sortable, customizable table)
or Gallery View (best for reviewing images). Use the Switch button
to cycle between these views.
You can choose whether to display 5, 10, 20, 50, or 100 records at a time.
In Grid View:
You can choose the columns to display from any column's dropdown menu (mouse into
a column header and click the dropdown icon). Under Columns, click the name
to display or hide the field (you do not need to click the checkbox specifically).
You can drag a column header to change its order of appearance in the grid.
You can also drag the edge of a column to make it wider or narrower.
Click in the expansion
column to view the full record.
In Gallery View:
Click the image to view the full record.
See Exporting Results for information on downloading results to, for example,
Open the full collection record by clicking the expansion button
in Grid View,
or anywhere within the image frame in Gallery View. Inverse expansion buttons
indicate records with multimedia (typically, images).
In the Record window, metadata for the multimedia content is available when you mouseover the thumbnail.
Clicking the thumbnail opens the content in your browser or other appropriate application.
Record windows may be resized or moved within the browser window.
You may have up to ten Record windows open at any one time.
Sort results in Grid View by clicking the column header (or by choosing Sort from
the column's dropdown menu).
Sort on multiple columns by consecutively sorting columns in reverse order.
For example, to view results sorted by Country and Province/State, first sort by
Province/State and then sort again by Country.
For any column you can choose to sort in Ascending or Descending order.
Export all or selected results by clicking the Export Results as CSV button in the
bottom toolbar in Grid
or Gallery View.
Select individual records for Export by checking the export selection box
(along the left edge of the Grid View grid).
Clear all selections with the Clear Selections button in the bottom toolbar.
Results are exported as comma-separated-values, one record per line, which can be saved
to disk or opened directly with applications such as Microsoft Excel.
Here are a few search tips:
Query results are limited to 5000 records. Avoid very general queries that
return very large numbers of records, e.g. searching for hymenoptera.
You can choose which columns to display in the Grid View of your search results.
Move your pointer to any column header and click on the dropdown arrow. Scroll
to Columns and then check or uncheck column names to show or hide those
columns in the grid.
To create a link to specific records at NMNH provide a querystring for:
where QUERYSTRING is (use a plus-sign to separate case-insensitive terms):
One or more CATALOG NUMBERS, e.g.
The NAME of a specimen, e.g.:
The NAME of a TYPE specimen, e.g.:
A GENERAL query, searching on any combination of: NAME (qn), FAMILY (fm), TYPE STATUS (ts),
COLLECTOR (cr), CATALOG (ct), or WITH IMAGES ONLY (io), e.g.:
To open the Collections Search to a specific search tab, e.g.
Tabs are numbered left to right, beginning with zero.
ento/?ti=3 (Types Search)
Please use the Feedback page to report problems you find with the data, or with using
these search pages.