History of the Collection

The University of Arizona Insect Collection (UAIC) began as a small accumulation of insect pests found in crop-growing regions of Arizona. Over the years, entomologists associated with UA Department of Entomology have transformed the UAIC to one of the largest and most important arthropod collections in the desert Southwest. Today the UAIC research collection contains extensive pinned, alcohol, microscope slide collections, plus a growing frozen tissue collection.  Altogether, these collections contain approximately 2.0 million specimens representing an estimated 35,000 species.  Originally, the collection was housed in rooms and drawers in the north wing of the third floor of the Forbes Building.  In the mid 1980s, the collection was moved to its current location on the west side of the third floor of the building.  However, it was still using custom cabinets without the safety and ease of access to allow it to be a repository for type specimens.  Those are the reference point for species descriptions published in the scientific literature.

In 2013, the housing system was massively renovated.

NSF “Collections in Support of Biological Research” funding allowed us to renovate and upgrade the collection equipment and infrastructure. This included the installation of a compactor system, plus all new cabinets, drawers and unit trays that house the specimens.  Entomology's parent entity, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences provided generous support as well.

The renovation and the project to photograph and digitize the specimens in the collection improves our capacity to conduct research.  Areas of special interest beyond basic science include pest management, impacts of invasive species, and the effects of climate change.  It helps position the UA Department of Entomology as a global center for specimen based arthropod research.  It also enhances our ability to apply for special outside funding.  Our facilities are on par with major institutions to which we used to defer as repositories of type specimens.  We will now accept and store type specimens.

NSF Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI-1203398)
Collections in Support of Biological Research 

NSF Emerging Frontiers (EF-1206382
Advancing Digitization of Biological Research Collections "Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN): A Model for Collections Digitization to Promote Taxonomic and Ecological Research"

Collection founders and key contributors prior to the current staff--

Laurence A Carruth 

Donald M. Tuttle 

Floyd G. Werner 

George D. Butler 

William L. Nutting

David R. Maddison

Carl A Olson