Entomology online collections

The Entomology collection consists of an estimated 28 million prepared specimens of insects and other terrestrial and freshwater arthropods.

The collections are systematically arranged where possible for efficient retrieval with only two personal collections, those of Sir Hans Sloane and Sir Joseph Banks, kept as separate entities.

The strengths of the collections are the:

  • number of type specimens
  • global coverage
  • historical material
  • extinct and endangered species

Specimen material types are extremely diverse e.g. on slides, preserved in spirit, dry pinned and frozen material and present a range of curatorial challenges.

The online collections database holds two types of records:
1) Species-level records

Species-level records are shown under a record type called an Index Lot. An Index Lot record denotes the presence of that taxon at a particular location in the museum e.g. in the main dry, British dry, slide or spirit collection. This explains why you may find multiple occurrences of a particular taxon in your search results. There are approximately 700,000 Index Lot records searchable in the online collection.

2) Specimen-level records

These records represent individual specimens in the collection. Specimen records are normally only databased when there is a specific requirement to do so. Consequently a relatively small proportion of our collection has been databased to this level and currently there around 200,000 specimen records.

The online collection is not yet complete. If your search does not return the taxon you searched for, it does not necessary mean we do not hold relevant specimens. 

Entomology collection online database


Adrian Hine
Systems and Data Manager

Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
Tel (0) 207 942 5707