The University of Arizona Insect Collection currently houses more than 2 million specimens representing a substantial portion of the Southwest\\u0027s known insect life.

Dr. Wendy Moore, assistant professor of insect systematics in the University of Arizona Department of Entomology recently secured two grants worth more than $2 million to help upgrade the U of A Insect Collection. The funding includes a grant from NSF, as well as an endowment to support research by visiting scholars.

Carl Olson, associate curator and lecturer in entomology, says the UA Insect Collection consists of more than 2 million specimens and is considered the largest collection in existence representing the Sonoran Desert region.

“We specialized in Arizona,” says Olson. “The majority of [the collection] represents Southern Arizona, some of the Sonoran Desert, and we keep trying to expand into the other deserts.”

Olson says Arizona is home to one of the most diverse insect populations in the world.

The UA Insect Collection helps researchers understand how the various species evolved and how climate change is affecting their ecosystem, he says.

Olson says two grants totaling more than $2 million, plus a $625,000 endowment to support research by visiting scholars, have been awarded to the UA Insect Collection. The funding will enable an upgrade of the facility that Olson says is overdue.