Leafhoppers on corn

Specimens and Research

Our holdings and focus areas for NC State Insection Collection scientists.


The NC State Insect Collection houses over 1.9 million total specimens, not including bulk material yet prepared. Specimen Resources

Many of our specimens have been databased and can be browsed through our NC State Insect Museum Specimen Database. Most drawers can also be viewed through our GigaPan profile

  • Specimen-type catalog (link coming soon)
  • Specimen loan policy (link coming soon)
  • Genomics loan policy (link coming soon)

Overview of Holdings

Summaries of our holdings in alphabetical order.

  • Archaeognatha: Many vials and one slide box.
  • Coleoptera: Over 100,000 specimens in over 850 drawers, mainly from North America.
  • The Collection is strong in carabids, curculionids, chrysomelids, elaterids and scarabs, with holdings of cerambycids, coccinellids, dytiscids and staphylinids represented. Several large donations over the past several years have greatly improved our holdings of Coleoptera. J.F. Cornell’s beetle Collection (on indefinite loan to NCSU) has been donated over the years (20,000+ specimens have already been integrated into the Collection). Tom Daggy’s Collection likewise significantly increased our representation of beetles. The NC State Universities Libraries hold F.F. Tippmann’s priceless Collection of literature on beetles.
  • Collembola: Over 11,200 slides and 2,200 vials, representing one of the best collembola collections in the eastern United States. This includes the David Wray Collection of Collembola.
  • Dermaptera: We have three drawers and many vials. Gigapan – Dermaptera drawers.
  • Dictyoptera: Nine drawers of “Blattaria,” with over 120 vials of Isoptera and five drawers of Mantodea.
  • Diplura: One slide box and several vials.
  • Diptera: Over 90,000 specimens in more than 280 drawers. The Insect Collection is strong in culicids and tabanids (contributed mainly by K.L. Knight and R.C. Axtell, respectively), with many North Carolina syrphids holdings.
  • Embiodea: A few older pinned specimens and several vials; Embiodea drawers.
  • Ephemeroptera: Over 500 vials.
  • Hemiptera: Hemiptera drawers
  • Heteroptera: Over 25,000 specimens in more than 200 drawers. The Collection is strong in mirids with lygaeids and pentatominds represented, and the material represents the eastern United States well. Bob Blinn has a strong interest in mirids and reduviids and adds hundreds of Heteroptera each year to the Insect Museum.
  • Homoptera: NC State has a worldwide collection of Homoptera, with over 450,000 specimens in more than 575 drawers, which has extraordinary value because of the systematic works derived from it. With comprehensive coverage taxonomically and geographically, the Homoptera collection is substantial in cicadellids, and the other families are well represented.
  • The Auchenorrhyncha collection, established by Z.P. Metcalf, served as part of the basis for the classification he used in General Catalog of the Homoptera, “probably the greatest catalog of any order of insects to be found in the world” (Brett 1976). D. A. Young contributed much to the growth of this part of the Collection. Wilhelm Wagner’s Collection, bequeathed to NC State University in 1977, is rich in European Auchenorrhyncha. The world collection of aphids supported the taxonomic research of C. F. Smith, A. T. Olive, H. L. Comroy, and M. M. Cermeli; it is vital in material from North Carolina and Utah. The unique and invaluable literature files of Metcalf and Smith on Auchenorrhyncha and Aphididae give immediate access to existing knowledge in these groups. Together, NC State’s collections of literature and specimens form a unique resource for research and graduate training in the Homoptera.
  • Hymenoptera: Over 75,000 specimens in more than 525 drawers. The Collection is strong in Apoidea, Braconidae, Pompilidae and Formicidae. Hymenoptera drawers.
  • T. B. Mitchell’s extensive bee collection is primarily North American in scope but contains megachilids from all zoogeographic regions. The Collection of North American Aphidiinae (a product of C. F. Smith’s research on these parasites of aphids) includes many paratypes.
  • Lepidoptera: Over 525 drawers and hundreds of immatures in vials.
  • Mecoptera: Several drawers and vials, plus the A.D. Shaftesbury flea collection, which includes over 50 slid boxes. Mecoptera drawers.
  • Megaloptera: About six drawers and nearly 200 vials. Megaloptera drawers.
  • Neuroptera: About nine drawers and about 140 vials. Neuroptera drawers.
  • Odonata: About 50 drawers and over 400 vials.
  • Orthoptera: Over 12,000 specimens in about 80 drawers largely reflect B.B. Fulton’s life interest in Orthoptera of the United States. Orthoptera drawers.
  • Phasmatodea: About four drawers. Phasmatodea drawers.
  • Plecoptera: About two drawers and nearly 500 vials. Plecoptera drawers.
  • Protura: One slide box with several vials.
  • Psocodea: One drawer and nearly 150 vials of bark lice. For Troctomorpha, we have three slide boxes and about 35 vials. Psocodea drawers.
  • Thysanoptera: 75 vials and 16 slide boxes.
  • Trichoptera: Four drawers and over 700 vials. Trichoptera drawers.
  • Zoraptera: About 40 vials and one slide box.


Our research programs are diverse but are generally associated with three realms:

  1. Insect systematics and taxonomy – Several projects focus on uncovering the evolutionary history of insects using molecular and morphological tools and revising species and higher-level taxa.
  2. Patterns and processes in insect evolution – Much of our phylogenetic research is motivated by understanding the drivers of species diversification, the evolution of morphological or behavioral traits, and the evolution of biogeographic ranges and insect communities.
  3. Biodiversity discovery and analyses – Through field surveys and databasing efforts of existing material in our collection, we aim to improve knowledge on insect diversity patterns in North Carolina. Our field sampling program includes international components, particularly in the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Special interests include the development of methods to assess insect communities in the canopy.

For further information, please visit the websites of our core research groups and check out some of our publications:

Past research outputs include the following resources of broad interest:

We are a CITES-registered research facility (permit: 08US827653/9).