Entomology Department


The Entomology Collection of the National Museum comprises ca. 410,000 specimens, mostly dry-pinned or staged. As with other museum collections, collection development has been driven through the interests of previous curators, and a heavy emphasis was placed in the past on the development of the Coleoptera (beetles) (especially the families: Tenebrionidae (darkling beetles), Scarabaeidae (dung beetles and chafers) and Curculionidae (weevils)). The collection also includes the largest holdings of the insect Orders Thysanura (silverfish, fishmoths) and Archaeognatha (bristletails) in southern Africa. Sampling and collection development is now focused on the Order Diptera (true flies), through dedicated bioinventory surveys in southern Africa. The Diptera collection now comprises over 209,374 specimens and is growing at a rate of ca. 15,000 specimens each year.

Other Orders of insects (not mentioned above) are also represented in the Collection: Collembola (springtails), Diplura, Ephemeroptera (mayflies), Odonata (dragonflies & damselflies), Blattodea (cockroaches), Isoptera (termites), Mantodea (mantids & praying mantids), Dermaptera (earwigs), Plecoptera (stoneflies), Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets), Phasmatodea (stick and leaf insects), Mantophasmatodea (heel-walkers), Embioptera (web-spinners, foot-spinners), Psocoptera (book lice), Phthiraptera (lice), Hemiptera (true bugs), Thysanoptera (thrips), Megaloptera (alderflies), Neuroptera (lacewings & antlions), Mecoptera (scorpion flies), Siphonaptera (fleas), Lepidoptera (butterflies & moths), and Hymenoptera (ants, bees & wasps).

Emphasis has been placed in the past on the development of a representative collection of insects occurring in the Free State of South Africa, although there is also material representing most other southern African countries, especially Namibia and Botswana.

The insect collection of the Alexander McGregor Memorial Museum, Kimberley, South Africa, was donated to the Department of Entomology in 2009 and is currently being databased and incorporated into the main collection.

Entomology staff members are currently engaged in the verification and updating of the Departmental databases, which shall be posted as a searchable portal on this website in the future.

The collection is used by the general public, for teaching purposes, and by researchers throughout the world. Departmental staff endeavour to curate and maintain the collection to the highest international standards and to make material available to bona fide researchers and students upon request, subject to our Loan Policy.

An especially important role of the collection is in support of teaching and research activities of the Department of Zoology and Entomology of the University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa and Departmental staff engage in teaching and the supervision of student projects. The Department also offers an identification service (by appointment and at the discretion of the Curator) for schools and the general public and all enquiries should be directed to the Curator. It should be noted that identifications can only be undertaken if properly preserved specimens are provided. If in doubt, please contact the Curator beforehand. Departmental staff are also glad to present talks and lectures to schools and other educational institutions, upon request.