Frequently asked questions

Is WRBU part of the Smithsonian Institution or the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research?

Both. WRBU is part of the Entomology Department of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and we conduct laboratory and field research on taxonomy, systematics, and bionomics of biomedically important arthropods, in support of epidemiological studies and disease control strategies of importance to the military. However, our physical location is inside the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Support Center where we are responsible for managing nine collections that are part of the National Museum of Natural History:

  • Culicidae (mosquitoes)
  • Psychodidae (sand flies and moth flies)
  • Simuliidae (black flies)
  • Tabanidae (deer flies and horse flies)
  • Hippoboscidae (louse flies)
  • Ceratopogonidae (biting and non-biting midges)
  • Dixidae (meniscus midges)
  • Chaoboridae (phantom midges)
  • Corethrellidae (frog-biting midges)


How do I inquire about what specimens are available in the NMNH collections under the care of WRBU?

We are actively working to digitize all our collections and hope to make the complete specimen catalog available in the future. In the meantime, feel free to contact us with any questions regarding specimen holdings and we would be glad to let you know what is available.


Can I request a specimen loan from WRBU?

Yes, however we will need to ensure there is an agreement in place between the NMNH and your organization. Please contact us at to request more information about obtaining a specimen loan.


Can I visit the collection?

The Entomology collections are accessible to qualified scientists and graduate students with stated research objectives and are not available for public tours. Please contact us to request more information about visiting the collection.


Can I send specimens to WRBU?

Yes, however we require written notice before specimens are shipped to ensure that you have all required documentation. We will need copies of all collection permits, importation permits and accompanying collection data before we can agree to accept your specimens. For qualifying submissions we offer voucher specimen kits with supplies for preserving and shipping specimens. For more information about submitting specimens to WRBU contact us. For more information about the USNM collections management policy regarding specimen donations, visit the National Museum of Natural History website.


How can WRBU help me with mosquito identification?

WRBU has a vast array of resources to assist with mosquito identifications. We offer over 100 computer-based, multi-entry morphological keys that allow users to choose the diagnostic characters that best suit their specimens. Users can also find citations of paper-based morphological keys as well as reference exemplar DNA sequences on our mosquito species pages.