Our Strengths


The strengths of the Wisconsin Insect Research Collection reflect the interests and passions of the staff and researchers that worked in and contributed to the WIRC over its long history, similar to the story of so many other natural history collections. We list some of those individuals and their contributions here.

Broad Taxonomic Coverage

William S. Marshall, general collection. During the early 1900s, Marshall amassed an extensive insect collection by collecting and trading Lepidoptera and Coleoptera with collectors across the United States. The UW Zoology Museum transferred Marshall’s collection to the WIRC in the 1970s.

William (Bill) L. Hilsenhoff, aquatic insect collection. Hilsenhoff, an aquatic entomologist in the department of Entomology, accumulated a remarkable three-quarters of a million specimens over several decades. Shortly after his retirement in 1996, he donated his collection to the WIRC. Hilsenhoff’s Family Biotic Index (FBI), the culmination of his research on the fresh water arthropods in Wisconsin, is still used today by ecologists to assess the health of streams, rivers, and lakes.

More Specific Focus

Charles L. Fluke, Syrphidae. Fluke was a renowned dipterist as well as a former WIRC Director. His donation of over 16,000 specimens in 1959 makes the WIRC syrphid collection one of the best in North America.

Gene DeFoliart, Lepidoptera. DeFoliart was a former professor in the Department of Entomology. In 1991, he deposited his collection comprising several hundred mosquitos, about 1,500 slide mounted lice, and 450+ chloropid flies. However, his biggest contribution to the WIRC may be the additional 5,000+  Lepidoptera donated in 2013 that he collected in the western U.S. while a graduate student. DeFoliart was also a staunch proponent of insects as food. The Insects as Food website hosted by the Department of Entomology highlights his legacy and provides more details on his passion for entomophagy.

Robert J. Dicke, Culicidae. Another former Entomology faculty member, Dicke deposited his extensive mosquito collection—approximately 14,000 point mounts + 6,000 slides—in 1993.

Daniel K. Young, Coleoptera. The last contributor on our list is also the only one that continues to make contributions to our collection. The current WIRC Director began assembling his collection of 200,000+ beetles when he was a young child. Young started depositing his collection in the WIRC in 2005 and continues to do so at a rate of several thousand specimens per year. Although a coleopterist, Young also collects and deposits specimens across all of Insecta.