Share

Our Collections

The research collection comprises approximately 1,000,000 specimens of arthropods, representing more than 15,000 species. Specimens are pinned, stored in cellophane envelopes, slide-mounted, or preserved in ethanol, depending on the taxon and stage.

Collection composition
As stated in our Collections Management Policy, the collections preserved at the Frost Museum include:

– Specimens, especially insects and other terrestrial arthropods (mainly Myriapoda and Arachnida), including their traces (exuviae, for example), plant parts that instantiate insect damage or modification (galls and leaf mines, for example), insect nests, and other artifacts (pollen, parasites, DNA, etc.) related to their biology
– Paper-based resources that relate to entomological collections, including books, maps, printed photographs, field notes, lab notes, and correspondence

How specimens are stored
The research collection comprises approximately 1,000,000 specimens of arthropods, representing more than 15,000 species. Specimens are pinned, stored in cellophane envelopes, slide-mounted, or preserved in ethanol, depending on the taxon and stage.

With funding from the National Science Foundation’s Collections in Support of Biological Research program (award # DBI-1349356), we completely overhauled the collection infrastructure in 2015 and installed new storage cabinetry.

Geographic strengths
The majority of specimens housed at the Frost are from the eastern United States, particularly Pennsylvania and Florida. Additionally, we have small collections of specimens from Ecuador and Panama (two of Stuart Frost’s sabbatical locations).

Taxonomic strengths

  • Odonata— George and Alice Beatty donated their private collection of damselflies & dragonflies (>65,000), which is one of the largest in North America.
  • Aphids— John Pepper donated a substantial aphid collection from all over North America (>32,000 slides mounts and 800 species).
  • Anoplura— The K.C. Kim Anoplura collection contains >15,000 slides and >1,500 ethanol-preserved lots, representing at least 300 species. Associated with this collection is a complete library of Anoplura taxonomic resources.
  • Evaniidae— The Frost holds the largest collection of ensign wasps in the world, from many countries across the family’s distribution.


Unconventional strengths
We have a large collection of light-trapped insects, a collecting method that Stuart Frost experimented with and helped popularize. Frost also collected extensively in caves in Pennsylvania and was the founding advisor of the Nittany Grotto caving club. Leaf-miners (several taxa but especially Agromyzidae) are also well represented, having been a research focus of Frost since graduate school.

Digitization efforts
Frost staff have been digitizing collections since the early 2000s. Data are accessible through SCAN and GBIF.

Loans
Specimens can be loaned for scientific research. Please read our Loan Policy Statement for our loan conditions.  

Donated Collections
Several large donations have been gifted to the Frost over the years, which we would like to give special thanks. These contributions have facilitated greater arthropod research, outreach, and education at Penn State.

  • Beatty, G. H. & A. F. (Odonata)
  • Bierlein, D. L. (Lepidoptera)
  • Byers. R. A. (Pasture insects)
  • Carter, R. E. (Lepidoptera)
  • Frost, S. W. (Insecta)
  • Haas, V. L. (Insecta)
  • Hyland, K. E. (Insecta)
  • Kim, K. C. (Insecta; ectoparasites of vertebrates)
  • Long, W. W. (Lepidoptera)
  • Patterson, G. F. (Lepidoptera)
  • Pepper, J. O. (Aphids)
  • Paxton, W. (Orthoptera - Tetrigidae, 1999)
  • Shetlar, D. J. (Insecta)
  • Thomas, C. A. (Lepidoptera)
  • Werschkow, Vera. York, Pennsylvania (Insecta of George Werschkow, 1999)

Interested in donating a collection? Please contact Andy Deans, Director () or Laura Porturas, Collection Manager ().