A colourful array of beetles from the insect collection at the queensland museum


Explore Queensland Museum’s extensive collection of insects and discover the research that enhances our understanding of entomology.


Queensland Museum has the world’s largest collection of Queensland insects. It includes specimens from all taxonomic groups of insects and their close relatives and from all habitats throughout Queensland. It includes the University of Queensland Insect Collection (UQIC) which was amalgamated with the museum’s collection in 2011. The specimens are primarily from Queensland, with comparative material from adjacent Indo-Pacific regions, such as New Caledonia.

Queensland is Australia’s most biodiverse state or territory and has a vast insect fauna. Most of Queensland’s insect species have yet to be scientifically described and the museum’s collections contains many unnamed species. As a result, Queensland Museum’s collections are actively used for taxonomic research, both in house and by external researchers in Queensland, elsewhere in Australia and throughout the world.

Scientific study

Entomology is the scientific study of insects which includes 27 different orders within the class Insecta. Entomology also encompasses the study of three closely related groups of six-legged, wingless arthropods; springtails (class Collembola), diplurans (class Diplura) and proturans (class Protura).


Collection highlights

The Queensland Museum insect collection comprises approximately 3.9 million specimens, including more than 38,000 type specimens and covers all taxonomic groups of insects and their close relatives. Approximately 280,000 specimens are registered and databased (as of July 2022), representing over 6% of the collection. The collection includes pinned specimens, papered specimens (mostly butterflies and dragonflies and damselflies), specimens mounted on microscope slides and specimens preserved in ethanol.

Strengths and highlights of the Queensland Museum insect collection include:

Extensive collections of insects from most major tracts of rainforest in Queensland as a result of exhaustive fieldwork by Geoff Monteith and colleagues. Particularly valuable are collections from mountain top rainforests of flightless insect species that are threatened by climate change.

The world’s largest and best-identified collection of Australian dung beetles (native and introduced), again due to Geoff Monteith’s efforts – more than 90,000 data-based specimens of 457 species.

One of the largest collections of Australian bees; the fruits of more than 30 years of collecting by the late Professor Elizabeth M. Exley of the University of Queensland and her many postgraduate students.

The E.N. “Pat” Marks collection of 35,000 mosquitoes, including 34 holotypes, seven cabinets of other slides (including dissections and larval skins), as well as her notebooks recording details of her collecting trips.

The A.A. Girault collection of types of microhymenoptera, minute parasitic wasps, and thrips. Alexandre Arsene Girault was an American entomologist who arrived in Australia in 1911 to work on sugar cane pests in north Queensland. His passion, however, was the taxonomy of Chalcidoidea and most of his types, around 4,000, are in the Queensland Museum insect collection.

The Dodd Family collection – a 100-year-old historically invaluable collection of drawers with artistically arranged specimens. Don't miss the chance to see a rotation of 27 showcases at Queensland Museum, South Bank's exhibition The Butterfly Man of Kuranda: The Dodd Collection on now until 14 April 2024.

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Research overview

The museum’s entomologists document Queensland’s rich insect fauna by building and enhancing our collections and by conducting taxonomic and ecological research.

We grow the collection by adding specimens though field work that varies from surveys of local council reserves to inform management practices to surveys of remote protected areas focused on the discovery of new species.

Our current research strengths are the taxonomy, systematics and ecology of Hymenoptera (wasps, bees and especially ants), Diptera (particularly bee flies, stiletto flies, robber flies and hover flies), Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) and Coleoptera (particularly scarab beetles).

Drawing on our entomological expertise and backed by the museum’s vast collections, we also contribute to a wide variety of collaborative projects such as studies on the diet and foraging ecology of insectivorous vertebrates, investigating pollinator networks in fragmented landscapes and using machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify invasive ant species.

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Did you know you don't have to come to the museum to see our collection?

Over 1 million specimens are now accessible from our biodiversity collection online for free. All you need is your device and a little bit of inspiration to explore Queensland’s cultural and natural heritage.

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