Invertebrate Zoology Collections Overview

Insects number about 555,000 specimens including ca. 60 holotypes and 55 syntypes from various orders. The insect collections have not yet been digitized.

Collectors of historical note include: F. A. Rauterberg, Milwaukee Co. and other localities (late 1800s - early 1900s), W.E. Snyder, collections from Beaver Dam and Fox Lake in Dodge County, WI (1890s-1920s), Rev. G. Birkman for Lee County, Texas, Louis Knobel from Hope, Arkansas (1920s), and A.G. Reynolds for Gulfport and Fruitland Park in Florida (1911-1912). Staff in the early 1900s including William Morton Wheeler, C. T. Brues, S. Graenicher, and R. Muttkowski also conducted collecting expeditions most notably to western Wisconsin (1911-1912).

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) is the largest collection with about 290,000 specimens; strong historic representation for WI (ca. 23% of the collection); broad representation of tropical butterflies and certain families of macro moths; about 46% Neotropical.

WI collectors have made significant contributions to the collection in order to document the macro leps of the state and include H. Armstrong, R. Borth, D. Carlson, J. Ebner, L. Ferge, F. Karpuleon, H. Kons Jr., J. Parkinson, F. Rauterberg, S. Ziemer, and R. Buckstaff (collection received from the Oshkosh Museum).

Major components:

  • James R. Neidhoefer collection of ca. 95,000 specimens with broad geographic representation including ca. 30,000 specimens from the historical P. Gagarin collection from endangered sites in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest; large number of gynandromorphs and other rare species.
  • William E. Sieker worldwide Sphingidae Collection embracing ca. 95% of the described species.
  • Albert Schwartz collection of more than 27,000 butterflies primarily from the West Indies.
  • Arthur A. Moeck ca. 28,000 butterflies primarily of North American Speyeria.

Coleoptera (beetles) comprise about 30% of the collection with ca. 164,000 specimens; primarily a synoptic U.S. collection, except for the Carabidae (ca. 40%) that also include strong representation for select taxa from the southwestern United States, Wisconsin, and the Andes collected in the late 1970s-1980s by curator Gerald R. Noonan.

Hymenopetra (bees, wasps, ants) total about 33,000 specimens and are mainly from Wisconsin prior to 1920 and after 1975.

Diptera (flies) total about 19,000 primarily WI; in addition to early collectors, curators T.E.B. Pope, W.E. Dickinson, and K.W. MacArthur worked on specific taxa; also a significant collection of determined cacao-pollinating midges including immature stages (Ceratogonidae & Cecidomyiidae) from Allen M. Young’s research in Costa Rica (1979-1980s).

Hemiptera (bugs, hoppers), Orthoptera (grasshoppers), Neuroptera (lacewings), Odonata (dragonflies), and other orders comprise the balance of the collection (9%); primarily historic and synoptic collections from WI and include dragonflies listed in the 1911 R. Muttkowski catalog and A.L. Throne collection of WI Neuroptera (1950s-1970s).

Other Invertebrates
Other invertebrates number about 245,000 specimens; these collections have been digitized.

Mollusks (clams, snails & related) ca. 187,000 specimens; 90% dry collection of shells only; worldwide with ca. 50% North American; over 200 families represented with 55% marine, 30% terrestrial, and 15% from freshwater habitats by lot. Two major components are the Bivalvia (mussels) with ca. 34,000 WI bivalves and Gastropoda (snails, slugs) numbering over 151,000 specimens.

Significant components include:

  • George H. Chadwick collection of WI species published in 1905 checklist.
  • Harold H. Mathiak Collection of 4,000 bivalves from Wisconsin river surveys (1973-1977).
  • Charles M. Wheatley historical collection of over 55,000 southeastern U.S. freshwater mollusks including species now thought to be extinct.
  • WI gastropod survey resulting in ca. 15,000 specimens mostly from leaf litter samples (1978-1980) and expertly determined by malacologist Leslie Hubricht.

Links: Slugs of Wisconsin and Mussels of Wisconsin (Mathiak)

Crustaceans (crayfishes, shrimp & related) ca. 34,000 specimens; 90% from WI includes more than 12,000 crayfishes used as the basis for the state distribution study published by MPM in 1988 plus 8,500 Amphipoda, Isopoda and Branchiopoda specimens, and representatives of other orders.

Link: Crustaceans of Wisconsin

Arachnids (spiders and related) more than 12,000 specimens includes orders: Araneae (spiders) high percentage of specimens with expert determinations of both North American and Neotropical species; Uropygi (whipscorpions), Amblypygi (tailless whipscorpions); Schizomida (schizomids), Solifugae (windscorpions), Pseudoscorpiones (pseudoscorpions), Scorpiones (scorpions), Opiliones (harvestmen), Acari (mites and ticks), and Ricinulei (ricinuleids).

Significant collections include:

  • Historically important G. W. and E. G. Peckham Collection of jumping spiders acquired in 1911, plus synoptic collection of North American spiders from the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard received in exchange for their retention of the Peckham type specimens.
  • 1977 Milwaukee County, WI survey resulting in over 2,300 spider specimens.
  • Carlos Viquez synoptic collection of ca. 2000 specimens representing species collected (2004-2008) as part of A. M. Young’s research on Costa Rican cacao farm biodiversity.

Other Invertebrate Collections ca. 8,300 lots that include Chilopoda/Diplopoda (centipedes/millipedes), Coelenterata (sea anemones, corals etc.), Echinodermata (starfishes & related), Acanthocephala (parasitic worms), Annelida (earthworms, leeches & related), Platyhelminthes (flatworms, flukes), and smaller collections.

Collection size is of course not the only measure of significance. For example, MPM has a small but important collection of Wisconsin sponges from studies by noted scholar Minna Jewell and from James R. Neidhoefer that provide valuable documentation for the species of this phylum in the state.

Link: Sponges of Wisconsin