Invertebrate Zoology

Please note that incoming and outgoing loans and visits to the collections by researchers are at the discretion of a collections' Curator-in-Charge in order to maintain staff health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic. Do not ship collections or return specimen loans without approval from the collections' Curator-in-Charge. Researchers may continue to access collections information online. See the Museum's coronavirus page for the latest information.

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

Extinct and Endangered: Insects in Peril

Dorsal view of a ladybug's spotted shell.
The ninespotted lady beetle, Coccinella novemnotata, is the official state insect of New York State. These beetles were once widespread but their numbers suddenly crashed in the 1980s for reasons that remain unclear.
© Levon Biss

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.

Extinct & Endangered Video

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It is with heavy hearts that we announce our former Curator of Lepidoptera at AMNH, Jim Miller, passed away suddenly March 24 at 69. Jim's research focused on the morphology and phylogeny of swallowtail butterflies and notodontid moths. A talented musician, Jim left AMNH to focus on his music career with Donna the Buffalo and then Western Centuries, while also continuing his work on Lepidoptera. Jim will be missed by his many friends and colleagues. You can read more about his life here.

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Research Highlights