Entomology and Arachnology

The Entomology and Arachnology Collection covers all the major insect and spider groups found in Australia, It also contains other terrestrial and freshwater non-molluscan invertebrates such as velvet worms. In total the collection holds between 2.5 and 3.2 million specimens.

The entomology collection is the largest of the Museum's individual collections. It is estimated to contain between 2.5 and 3 million individual specimens, including more than 4500 holotypes and 19,000 paratypes. The arachnological component is estimated at around 70,000 specimen lots, including over 1600 types.

The collection contains both wet (approximately 350,000 specimen lots preserved in 70% ethanol) and dry material (in excess of 1 million individual pinned specimens). It also includes an extensive scientific reprint library containing original published descriptions of many of the species in the collection. The collection contains predominantly Australian material but it also contains a scientifically and historically valuable overseas component.


The collection includes much scientifically and historically important material from Australia and overseas. The aquatic insect collection, containing extensive benthic (bottom dwelling) invertebrate collections from Victorian rivers, is one of the most significant in Australia and includes the largest and most comprehensive caddisfly collection in the country. Similarly, the native bee collection, containing over 50,000 specimens, is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind. Extensive collections of material from freshwater and terrestrial surveys underpin many major Victorian environmental studies. The collection continues to be important in serving the needs of ongoing scientific and taxonomic research, pest identifications, and Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service quarantine identifications (critical for biosecurity).