RHS insect reference collection – maintenance and improvement

RHS project team
Dr Andrew Salisbury, RHS
Start date
07/01/1918 00:00:00

Insect collection

The problem

The RHS insect reference collection contains more than 23,000 specimens of beetles, flies, moths, true bugs, bees, ants and wasps, other insects and invertebrates. The collection has been built up for more than 90 years and largely consists of UK native species including examples of some insects that are the first records for Britain.

Many of the specimens were collected at RHS Garden Wisley, providing a physical voucher record of the biodiversity recorded in the garden. Additions to the collection are regularly made by RHS Entomologists. A digital record (catalogue) of the specimens and collection data is maintained.

The collection was rehoused from storage boxes to museum quality glass-topped wooden drawers purchased from the Natural History Museum in 2010. These drawers provide better access to the collection and improved protection against adverse environmental conditions and pests that could damage the collection over store boxes.


The collection is constantly undergoing maintenance, acquisitions are incorporated and pest infestations treated as required.

Benefits to gardeners

The RHS insect collection, which is held at RHS Garden Wisley, is an invaluable resource for reference purposes when identifying insect specimens. It provides a physical record of species that have been recorded at RHS Gardens,voucher specimens from experiments such as RHS Plants for Bugs and examples of garden pests and other wildlife. This includes specimens representing first UK records for some insects.

Further information

The RHS is keen for data it holds to be used and would like to collaborate in research. Email [email protected] if you would like access to the collection or to use RHS data for research.

Andrew Salisbury, RHS

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.