The Division of Entomology at the University of Nebraska State
Museum houses approximately 2 million pinned, fluid-preserved,
papered,and slide-mounted insects and arachnids. We have ongoing
research programs dealing with the systematics of Neotropical
scarabaeoid beetles, featherwing beetles, Nebraska hawk moths,
and the endangered American burying beetle. The research collections
in entomology rank in the top 20 collections of this type
in North America and represent one of only three existing
collections with large holdings of Great Plains material (the
University of Kansas and Iowa State University being the others).
Although acquisitions from the Great Plains and Neotropics
are emphasized, the collections contain material from all
over the world. Special holdings in the Division include Lawrence
Bruner's Orthoptera (largely Neotropical), Myron Swenk's Hymenoptera,
the Worley and Pickwell spider collection, the Ron Rivers
donation of New Guinea butterflies, the Ken Fender synoptic
collection of North American Cantharidae, the Dodge Engleman
collection of Panamanian Pentatomidae, the Nebraska Department
of Environmental Control's extensive voucher collections resulting
from their surveys of aquatic habitats, and the Neotropical
Coleoptera currently being added by the present staff. The
orders best represented in the collection are Coleoptera,
Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, and Diptera. With modern storage
and conservation techniques and virtually no backlog of unprepared
material, this collection is extremely well curated thanks,
in part, to IMLS grants. Deposition of types in the collection
began in 1900 with Lawrence Bruner. In addition to many of
Bruner's Orthoptera types, many types of Swenk, Viereck, Cockerell,
H.S. Smith, Ralph Dawson, and Brett Ratcliffe are also here.
At the present time, there are primary and/or secondary types
for about 1000 species in the collection.
entomology collections at the University of Nebraska have
had a long and prosperous history. The first graduate degree
conferred by the University of Nebraska was in 1886 to C.G.
McMillen who majored in Entomology and Geology. Samuel Aughey,
the first director of the University Museum, conducted research
on the Rocky Mountain locusts, chinch bugs, hessian flies,
and other insect pests from 1871-1878. By 1890, entomology
was regularly offered as a course in the Industrial College.
In 1895 the Department of Entomology and Ornithology was established
by Lawrence Bruner. Bruner is considered the "father"
of Nebraska entomology. Bruner's private collection (dating
from 1870) formed the nucleus for the current collection in
the Division of Entomology. Entomology was made a Division
of the Museum in 1948, and the collections were moved from
the Department of Entomology to the University of Nebraska
State Museum's Research Collections facility in 1969. This
move, made possible by an NSF facilities grant, brought together
all the University's natural history research collections,
including the Divisions of Zoology, Botany, Parasitology,
Vertebrate Paleontology, Invertebrate Paleontology, and Anthropology.
Thanks, in part, to conservation funding from the federal
Institute of Museum and Library Services, the insect collections
are extremely well curated, including modern storage cabinets
and drawers, virtually no backlog of unprepared material,
and continuing species-level and specimen-level databasing.