A male Sawfly
The British insect collections are a comprehensive reference resource for all major insect groups. They contain much contemporary material and are rich in biological data which supports and underpins contemporary wildlife conservation and biodiversity research. Areas particularly worthy of note are:
- Coleoptera (beetles) Total holding of ca. 103,000 specimens, representing 87% of the British fauna. This includes, among others, two of the most comprehensive assembled in the 20th century (C. MacKechnie Jarvis and B.S. Williams).
Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) British species are well represented, with ca. 50,000 specimens of British micro-Lepidoptera and ca. 120,000 British macro-Lepidoptera.
Hymenoptera: Aculeata (bees, wasps and ants) The British aculeate collection consists of ca. 30,000 specimens, representing 83% of the British fauna. It is rich in modern material and notable collections include those of M. Edwards, G. Dicker and C. Clee. Symphyta (sawflies) are currently a major growth area within the collections. At present, there are ca. 15,000 specimens and the coverage of British species is just under 70%. Much of the collection results from contemporary work in North-west England and Wales.
- Diptera (two-winged flies) Approximately 50,000 British specimens representing ca. 2,500 species. Groups such as Tipulidae (craneflies), Mycetophilidae (fungus gnats), Syrphidae (hoverflies) and Larger Brachycera (soldierflies and their allies) are especially well represented. Recent acquisitions, notably the modern collections of R. Underwood, continue to expand their coverage.
Hemiptera (true bugs and hoppers) Extensive (96%) coverage of British frog and leaf hoppers and (93%) British heteropteran bugs, including immature stages. Notable collections are those of W.J. LeQuesne and S. Judd.
Trichoptera (caddis flies) (ca. 40,000 specimens) including extensive collections of immature stages (I.D. Wallace collection) are internationally important and underpin recent taxonomic, distributional and conservation research.
Foreign insect collections
Foreign collections of particular note, in addition to those mentioned under historic collections, include:
- The C.A. Collingwood collection of Palaearctic ants (ca. 80,000 specimens) is internationally important and has engendered the ongoing donation of scientifically important ant specimens from other international ant workers.
- Unique collections of immature true bugs from the Palaearctic region result from the research of S. Judd. The world jumping plant louse collection of I.D. Hodkinson which includes much type material is internationally important and complements our holdings of other true bug groups.
- Ongoing invertebrate biodiversity studies on the Greek islands of Chios and Lesvos, undertaken by NML associates, have resulted in significant collections of moths, bees, wasps and ants, and other invertebrate groups from this region. These complement extensive material from previous NML studies on the Turkish invertebrate fauna.
Samples from biodiversity advisory surveys
Museum staff and associates regularly undertake biodiversity field surveys in partnership with various national and regional conservation organisations. This research informs species conservation and general site management. In the last fifteen years over 50, technical reports and publications have been commissioned and over 100,000 specimens have been identified. Specimens resulting from and validating this research are housed in the museum's spirit-preserved and dry invertebrate collections.
The historic F. Chevrier (1801 - 1885) (ca. 11,000 specimens) collection of European beetles is of international importance.
Other notable historic collections include:
- The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine collection of medically important arthropods (ca.30,000 specimens)
- Insect specimens from the joint British Museum (Natural History) and Liverpool Museum expedition to the Island of Socotra of 1898. This was led by W. R. Ogilvie-Grant BM(NH) and the Director of Liverpool Museums (Dr. H. O. Forbes) (10 cabinet drawers).