Arachnology And Entomology

Arachnology + Entomology Collections

The Arachnology and Entomology Collection at the Burke Museum includes over 381,000 specimens of non-mollusc invertebrates, with collections of international, regional and historical importance. Geographic strengths are Washington state and far eastern Russia. To learn more about each subcollection cared for and accessible through the Burke, see the listings below. There is currently no online searchable collection database for Arachnology and Entomology.

For questions about the collections that are not answered below, contact one of the curatorial associates on the People and Contact page.

Collection Details

Skinny wooden drawers lined with orange- and teal-stoppered glass vials of spiders.
Photo: Andrew Waits
Araneida (a.k.a. Araneae, spiders)

Highlight: 2nd largest collection of spiders on the West Coast, largest collection of Washington spiders anywhere, largest collection of Russian spiders in North America

The spider collection makes up roughly 50% of the section's total holdings (over 167,000 specimens). Geographic strengths are Washington, Alaska and far eastern Russia, with some worldwide representation. Collections are curated, catalogued and available for study. New material is added almost daily.

Display of a variety of butterfly specimens pinned to foam
Photo: Burke Museum
Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)

Highlight: Best representation of Washington butterflies in any collection

The butterfly and moth collections include over 37,000 specimens and are particularly strong in Washington material; but there is significant worldwide representation. Curation of currently unmounted material is in progress. The collection is available for study, but mounted butterflies are difficult to ship.

Harvestmen and scorpion specimens preserved in tubes and jars
Photo: Rod Crawford
Other Arachnids (including harvestmen and scorpions)

The arachnid collection includes over 13,245 specimens of non-spider orders. It is especially strong in harvestmen, with some worldwide representation. The harvestman collection is catalogued, available for study, and expanding.


An overhead view of specimens preserved in vials organized in narrow cardboard boxes
Photo: Rod Crawford
Cave Invertebrates (including all groups that live in caves)

A representative collection of about 12,000 primarily Pacific Northwest cave invertebrates, especially arthropods. The collection is fully curated and available for study, but not yet catalogued.


Myriapod specimens preserved in jars and vials on a shelf
Photo: Rod Crawford
Myriapods (including millipedes and centipedes)

6,500 curated centipedes and millipedes, mostly identified, mainly from the Pacific Northwest. Available for study but difficult to ship due to storage method.


Specimens preserved in jars and vials with green caps
Photo: Rod Crawford
Isopoda (including terrestrial, aquatic and marine species)

The isopod crustacean collection includes about 12,000 specimens and is expanding. The collection's core is the Melville H. Hatch material used in "Isopoda of Washington." Material is predominantly from Washington. It is all curated and available for study, but not yet catalogued.


Overhead view of slides arranged numerically with a typed label about the collection on the page next to them and a single slide pulled out
Photo: Rod Crawford
Oligochaetes (worms, including aquatic and terrestrial)

This is primarily the Luther C. Altman collection of 2,500 specimens used for "Oligochaeta of Washington", partly fluid-preserved but primarily slide-mounted as serial sections. Altman was a superb histologist and his slides are works of art. This collection has been in high demand by researchers in several countries.


Tubes with black caps arranged in wooden boxes
Photo: Rod Crawford
Water Mites (Hydracarina)

The Charles H. Lavers, Jr. collection of North American aquatic mites, donated by his widow after Lavers' untimely death, was the basis of "The Species of Arrenurus of the State of Washington" but includes unstudied material. It is divided between slide-mounted and glycerin-preserved specimens. Uncatalogued, but available for study at least in part.


Overhead view of slides arranged numerically with one slide pulled out with a handwritten label on it
Photo: Rod Crawford
Siphonaptera (fleas)

Our collection of 1,040 slide-mounted fleas primarily from the Pacific Northwest originated with a "synoptic" donation by C. Andresen Hubbard and has miscellaneous additions, including the former collection of Walla Walla College. Includes paratypes; available for study.


Overhead view of slides arranged numerically with one slide pulled out with a label with the text "Eloise Kuntz" on it
Photo: Rod Crawford
Rotifera (“wheel animals”)

Our collection of this group of microscopic metazoans is entirely slide-mounted. The roughly 600 specimens were prepared by Eloise Kuntz for her thesis on "The Rotatoria of Washington." The collection will have significant historical importance to future researchers.


Overhead view of slides arranged numerically with one slide with a "Walla Walla College" tag on either side of the specimen pulled out
Photo: Rod Crawford
Protura (proturans)

These near-microscopic soil hexapods (formerly considered insects) are all slide-mounted. The roughly 50 specimens were formerly deposited at Walla Walla College. Protura are so seldom seen that even this small collection may be of interest to future researchers.


Tubes with green, purple, and cream lids lined up in cardboard boxes on shelves
Photo: Rod Crawford
Mt. St. Helens Arthropods

From 1981-1987 the terrain sterilized by the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens (and nearby control sites) was studied by a UW team under a large grant, monitoring arachnids and insects migrating in and, in some cases, colonizing the greatly altered habitats. This material (at least 70,000 specimens) is currently in the process of being converted from bulk storage to a research-ready collection.


Collections-Related Services

For more information about specimen loans or visiting the collections, see the Services and Policies page.

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