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Lepidoptera Research Collection

In April of 2023 a citizen science invitation began asking people to mail in already deceased insects in the order Lepidoptera to help establish a USGS Research Scientific Collection. The collection will enable USGS scientists to have specimens from various regional areas to be able to identify contaminants and environmental factors which could be contributing to the decline of insect populations.

As of 12/1/23, a total of 1,109 specimens have been submitted for the Lepidoptera Research Collection. Check out the specimens in "ReSciColl" as they are frequently being uploaded to the registry. Thank you to everyone who has participated in the community science project to help further our understanding on Lepidoptera and Ecosystem Health.

Specimens Received as of 12/1/23

LRC map with totals
Map of the continental United States detailing the amount of LRC specimens collected from each state as of 12/1/2023. The specimens are split up between the amount collected from the pilot study and non-pilot study with the total count of 1,109 specimens collected.


The citizen science pilot began in April of 2023 and ends in November of 2023. Based on the response and number of specimens received the collection efforts may continue into 2024. The Lepidoptera Research Collection (LRC) will be made available to all scientists within the USGS to conduct research. States included in the pilot study were selected based on at least one of three factors 1. Locality relative to the migration pathway of the Monarch butterfly 2. Presence of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) 3. Locality relative to the Corn Belt. The Environmental Organic Chemistry (EOC) unit, located at the Kansas Water Science Center, will specifically be looking at the occurrence of antibiotics, pesticides, hormones, and mycotoxins in Lepidoptera. 

Learn more about the call to action by viewing the flyer here