Through the eye of the (bee)holder

The University of Missouri’s Enns Entomology Museum boasts the largest university-owned collection of insect specimens in the world.


Oct. 25, 2021
Contact: Nathan Byrne, nathanbyrne@missouri.edu

There are 200 million insect specimens for every living human on Earth, and the Enns Entomology Museum has more than 7 million species of them.

The collection provides a rich resource for data that’s being used to get at complex questions in unique ways.

“These specimens serve as a fantastic historical record,” said Robert Sites, the museum’s director and professor of entomology at MU. “If we’re talking about climate change, for instance, the only way you can study climate change and the effect on insect communities is by knowing what was here previously, and we have that.”

Sites says specimens of rare and extinct insects are probably the most important. One example is the extinct Xerces Blue butterfly. The Enns Entomology Museum has about a dozen specimens of it that were collected in the early 1900s.

While the museum isn’t currently open to the public, the team is preparing public displays that will be available for viewing outside of Room 39 in the Agriculture Building.

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