Hawai‘i has a unique natural heritage that includes thousands of species of insects found nowhere else on earth. Hawai‘i’s environment is unfortunately very attractive to new, invasive insects as well. The UH Insect Museum is more than just storage for insect specimens – now more than a quarter of a million strong and counting, including some of the most complete and important collections of insects native to Hawai‘i. These specimens are an invaluable resource for UH students and researchers, as well as scientists and professionals from around the world who come to study at the museum. The collections help our understanding of endangered native species, contribute to habitat preservation efforts and improved land management, and help in the identification of newly discovered, as well as newly arrived, species.
The museum has research programs of its own, including a project studying the native Kamehameha butterfly’s decline, and what conditions might help reverse it. Another project, a long-term study of native Drosophila picture-wing flies, has contributed to breakthroughs in our understanding of genetics and species diversity.
Contributions to the museum will help fund student workers who are digitizing the collection to make the information held on the specimens available on the internet – accessible to anyone from scientists to kindergarten classes. In addition, gifts support field work and research experiences for students from high school to the PhD level; support outreach and educational programs for school and community groups; fund informational activities; and support and preserve the collection itself for future generations. The funds also help support museum tours (by appointment only).