At over 16,000 samples and growing, this may be the largest such collection in existence. Most samples have had some taxa removed (especially some combination of beetles, mites, spiders, millipedes, and recently ants), but still contain vast numbers of other arthropods. In addition to soil and litter samples, there are also samples from some 4,000 trap collections (flight intercept or FIT like the photo above; unbaited pitfall; dung- and carrion-baited pitfall; and blacklight) and small-scale pyrethrin-fogging of substrates such as rotting logs. Much of the sorting done by museum staff or interns has been supported by collection improvement or research grants to curators in the Division of Insects. We encourage interested researchers to visit and check these samples for specimens of their study taxa to borrow.
This organized collection was begun by former curator Henry S. Dybas (1915-1981; curator 1947-1980), a dedicated "niche collector," who began giving each of his samples a unique number of the form FM(HD)#-year-000, where "year" is the year of collection and 000 is a sequential sample number within that year. The (HD) suffix - his initials - served to distinguish these numbers from catalog numbers of other Field Museum divisions or departments; the parentheses were later eliminated for simplicity. When the museum's name was Chicago Natural History Museum (1953-part of 1966), the prefix CNHM(HD) was used, so specimens sorted and prepared then will be so labeled. All those samples are nevertheless entered here as "FMHD" numbers to simplify use of the data. All available collecting data for each sample are presented in the detailed view of its record.