Invertebrate Zoology

Welcome to the Division of Invertebrate Zoology. Our staff study and archive the living non-vertebrate animals, which make up 95% of all animal species.

The Division research collections contain more than 24 million specimens, representing ~500,000 species. Most of these specimens are terrestrial arthropods, but there are large collections of marine and freshwater invertebrates.

Strengths of the collections reflect the research of current and past curators: Arachnids (especially spiders and scorpions), aculeate (sting-bearing) Hymenoptera (including bees, wasps and ants), gall wasps (Cynipoidea), certain Diptera (especially Drosophilidae, Syrphidae and Tachinidae), HemipteraIsoptera (termites) and their symbiotic protists, macro-Lepidoptera (particularly of the New World), rove beetles (Staphylinidae), the primitively wingless insects (bristletails and silverfish), marine Mollusca, and fossils in amber. Research centers around field exploration, the collections, and laboratory studies using morphology and DNA sequences to examine the evolutionary relationships of a spectrum of groups from species to phyla.

Returning a loan? Send to:

Division of Invertebrate Zoology
American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024-5192 USA

A New Wing for Butterflies

A wooden drawer of butterfly specimens is propped up on table, with work stations and cabinets in the background.
A view of the western room which contains the swallowtails (Papilionidae) and larger Nymphalidae.

The museum's research collection of 1.3 million butterflies has migrated to a modern new facility in the spectacular Richard Gilder Center for Science and Innovation.  The museum has also received a butterfly collection of exceptional significance from the butterfly biologists Philip J. DeVries and Carla Penz.

13,000 Crabs Crawl into AMNH

fiddler crab and collecting label
Fiddler crab Leptuca saltitanta
Jovanni Gonzalez

The American Museum of Natural History recently received the life’s work of a professor in Minnesota—1,274 jars of crabs collected over decades from around the world.

Extinct and Endangered: Insects in Peril

Insects help keep natural ecosystems healthy, from pollinating plants to decomposing and recycling life's remains. Unfortunately, the evidence is very clear that many insect species are in significant decline.

Through the uniquely powerful macrophotography of Levon Biss, you can experience up close the impact of these tiny creatures in the Akeley Corridor and the East Galleria at AMNH. Large-format photographs of 40 specimens from the Division of Invertebrate Zoology's world-class research collection show the intricate uniqueness of these endangered or extinct species. Take this opportunity to see the magic insects have to offer.

Research Highlights