by J.T. Huber

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The Hymenoptera collection is one of the strongest segments of the CNC and one of the largest in the world. An estimated two to three million dried specimens are housed in about 250 cabinets and about 6000 drawers. There is a separate liquid collection of about 30,000 vials containing unidentified but partially sorted specimens in ethanol, estimated at around one million specimens, which is the source of most of the pinned material. There is a relatively small slide collection (fewer that 100 slide boxes - many only partly full) mainly of Chalcidoidea and a collection of 155 fossils in Cretaceous amber.

The liquid collection is stored mainly in 70% ethanol. Most of the specimens were collected since 1970 with a few dating from 1965 when Malaise traps began to be commonly used. From 1965 to about 1985 the liquid material was kept in cabinets at room temperature. That material is often badly discoloured but some groups are not as badly affected as others and many specimens are still in good condition. It was then realized that storing liquid collections at low temperatures, preferably -10ºC or lower, greatly retards specimen deterioration. Therefore, since 1986 the collections have been stored in a cold room at about 0ºC. Consequently post-1985 material is generally in very good condition. Also in 1986 incoming material from mass collecting using passive methods (Malaise, pan, or flight intercept traps, etc.) was sorted as soon as possible into major taxa. These taxa are stored separately from the unsorted Hymenoptera. Both sorted and unsorted Hymenoptera in liquid are arranged by geographical region and, for the Nearctic region, mostly by state and province. The holdings are summarized below. A vial may contain anywhere from one to several thousand specimens. There are 16 cabinets of alcohol material.

The entire collection is heavily biased towards the parasitic wasp groups, which represent about 75-80% of both dry and liquid holdings. This reflects the researchers' interests over the years, mainly as a result of hiring practices within Agriculture Canada which emphasized work on the economically important Parasitica (mainly parasitic wasps) rather than the plant-feeding Symphyta (sawflies) or the mainly predaceous Aculeata (stinging wasps and bees). Although there is a heavy emphasis on the Nearctic region the holdings are worldwide. After the Nearctic region, they are, in order of decreasing numbers of specimens, the Neotropical, Palaearctic, Afrotropical, Oriental, and Australian regions. All the pinned Hymenoptera are sorted at least to family and often entirely to genus, e.g. proctotrupoids (s.l.), but the species level curation varies considerably with taxon. The largest proportion of specimens identified to species is in the aculeates and sawflies and the smallest is in the microhymenoptera (chalcidoids, proctotrupoids, ceraphronoids, platygastroids, and cynipoids). Groups that are particularly well represented are the Braconidae, Eupelmidae, Ichneumonidae, Mymaridae, Tenthredinidae, Ceraphronoidea, Platygastroidea, and Proctotrupoidea. The last three superfamilies have outstanding representation and contain an almost complete set (443) of the world genera.

About 2200 primary types are deposited in the Hymenoptera collection. Most of these were catalogued by Sarazin in a series of six publications [1985 - Can. Ent. 117: 1177-1222 (Braconidae); 1986a - Can. Ent. 118: 287-318 (Aculeata);1986b - Can. Ent. 118: 621-640 (Symphyta); 1986c - Can. Ent. 118: 957-989 (Ceraphronoidea, Evanioidea, Proctotrupoidea, and Trigonalyoidea); 1987a - Proc. Ent. Soc. Ont. 118: 83-108 (Chalcidoidea and Cynipoidea); 1987b- Mem. Ent. Soc. Canada , No. 137 (Ichneumonidae)].

The CNC Hymenoptera Collection is Currently Housed as Follows:

Dry (Mainly Pinned) Material - 250 Cabinets


# of drawers

















Evanioidea, Megalyroidea, Mymarommatoidea,
     Stephanoidea Trigonalyoidea








Layered specimens (mainly microhymenoptera)


Specimens in gelatin capsules (chalcidoids)


Papered specimens (ichneumonids)


Liquid Alcohol Collection - 16 Cabinets


Sorted Hymenoptera by Taxon


Aculeata (minus bees and ants) - 1500 vials (35 racks)


Aculeata Apiformes (bees) - 900 vials (40 racks)


Aculeata Formicidae (ants) - 2400 vials (99 racks)


Braconidae - 2400 vials (99 racks)


Cynipoidea - 2500 vials (93 racks)


Evanioidea (mainly Evaniidae) - 500 vials (11 racks)


Ichneumonidae - 1300 vials (54 racks)


Proctotrupoidea, Ceraphronoidea, Platygastroidea - 5900 vials (245 racks)


Symphyta adults - 1900 vials (76 racks), larvae 1300 vials (57 racks)


Unsorted or Partly Sorted Hymenoptera by Region


Nearctic - 3600 vials (151 racks)


Neotropical - 1800 vials (76 racks)



Staff Photos

Bennett, A.


Scientist (ichneumonid parasitic wasps) & Unit Curator of Hymenoptera

Cardinal, A.


Scientist (bees)

Gibson, G.A.P.


Scientist (chalcidoid parasitic wasps)

Huber, J.T


Canadian Forest Service Scientist (chalcidoid parasitic wasps) & former Unit Curator of Hymenoptera


Barnes, D.


Technician (ichneumonid parasitic wasps)

Bearss, L.


Technician (chalcidoid parasitic wasps)

Boudreault, C.  

Technician (braconid parasitic wasps, sawflies)

Dumouchel, L.


Biologist (CFIA)

Read, J.

Technician (mymarid parasitic wasps)
Fernandez-Triana, J.  

Research Associate (braconid parasitic wasps)

Goulet, H.


Honorary Research Associate (braconid parasitic wasps, sawflies)

Masner, L.


Honorary Research Associate (proctotrupoid parasitic wasps)


Hardcopy Hymenoptera Publications

Hymenoptera of the world: An identification guide to families

Annotated keys to the genera of Nearctic Chalcidoidea (Hymenoptera)
The Insects and Arachnids of Canada (Handbook Series) (click here for availability)
     Part 12 - The Families and Subfamilies of Canadian Chalcidoid Wasps (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea)
     Part 20 - The Genera and Subgenera of the sawflies of Canada and Alaska (Hymenoptera: Symphyta)

Hymenoptera Links

Braconidae in the Canadian National Collection
International Society of Hymenopterists
Chalcid Forum

This page last updated on 10-Jun-2013

Lisa Bartels

Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes
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