The Insect Collection, located in the Department of Biology at Utah State University, is recognized as one of the important collections in the western United States and serves as the major information source for the research of insect species of the U.S. Intermountain region. However, every region of the world is represented, especially the Neotropical region.
The collection consists of over 2,000,000 specimens, the bulk of them pinned and stored in about 2000 drawers. The bulk of the matrial is of Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, and Diptera. The collection of immatures and various small orders is stored in about 10,000 vials. The G.F. Knowlton collection of aphids and the collections of fleas, lice, thrips and a few other groups are mounted on about 35,000 microscope slides. The bees are housed with the U.S.D.A. Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory, where an additional 33 cabinets and 800 drawers are located.
The collection's inception was shortly before 1900, when it was set up primarily as a collection of crop pests. Many of these specimens are still in storage and in excellent condition. Its early development was carried out by E.D. Ball and E.G. Titus, but its real growth began after 1925, when G.F. Knowlton joined the staff. He intensively collected insects throughout Utah and surrounding areas since then, until his death in early 1987. Others who have been most responsible for its growth are W.W. Henderson, especially in his studies of grasshoppers, and G.E. Bohart. In 1963, W.J. Hanson was appointed curator, and a separate room in a new building (Biology and Natural Resources) was provided to house the collection, which has allowed for accelerated growth. Neotropical specimens representing all orders, but especially Diptera, make the collection unique in the west, thanks in large part to Dr. Wilford J. Hanson