The Hymenoptera collection of the Museu de Zoologia gathers an important collection of wasps in general, ants and bees, resulting from acquisitions, exchanges with other institutions and collection by researchers who have worked or are working here. 

The first records of Hymenoptera’s deposit of specimens at MZUSP correspond to the material collected by Hermann von Ihering and Hermann von Lüderwaldt at the beginning of the 20th century, when the collections still belonged to the Museu Paulista da Universidade de São Paulo (known as Museu do Ipiranga), as part of its Zoology section. These researchers maintained close ties with colleagues from abroad, exchanging material with their European and North American colleagues such as Carlo Emery, Auguste Forel, Felix Santschi, William M. Wheeler, Gustav Mayr, Carlo Menozzi, and Marion R. Smith. Several species collected in Brazil were described by the above-mentioned authors who often sent the type specimens back to São Paulo, contributing to the formation and qualification of the collection. The collection also includes specimens collected by Ernesto Garbe, Fritz Plaumann, Karol Lenko, Travassos Filho, Ricardo von Diringshofen, Frederico Lane, and other names that paved the way for Zoology in Brazil.

Since the zoological collection of the Museu Paulista has stood out and came to form the Department of Zoology of the State of São Paulo’s Office of Agriculture in 1939, which in 1969 was incorporated into the Universidade de São Paulo as the Museu de Zoologia, the Hymenoptera collection continues to grow, especially with the deposit of material resulting from academic projects and environmental impact studies conducted in various regions of the country. Dr. Carlos Roberto F. Brandão (1981-present) and Dr. Gabriela Procopio Camacho (2022-present) are currently the collection curators.

Among the recent efforts that have contributed the most to the expansion of the collection are the collection projects in the Cerrados in all their formations and the project “Wealth and diversity of Hymenoptera and Isoptera along a latitudinal gradient in the Atlantic Forest – the rain forest of eastern Brazil” (1999-2005), of the BIOTA-FAPESP Program (Proc. 03/11170-2), in which the fauna of these insects along the Atlantic Forest was inventoried in all eastern portion of the country. Recently, with the collaboration of the Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana (Casadinho Project 16/2008 MCT/CNPq/CT-Infra/CT-Petro/Ação Transversal IV), the caatingas were emphasized. In 2009 we joined the National Institute of Science and Technology of the Hymenoptera Parasitoids of Southeastern Brazil (INCT-HYMPAR/Sudeste Proc. FAPESP 14/50940-2) as depository of the several superfamilies of parasitoids, inaugurating a new phase for the Hymenoptera research group. Other important projects include the North-South Railroad Monitoring Program and the Rapid Environmental Impact Assessments in the State of Tocantins (2003-2006), and the Wildlife Conservation Program in the HPP of Jirau’s area of influence (2010-2013). In these expeditions the fauna of Hymenoptera was inventoried in several biomes and environmental strata, through the use of different collection techniques.

The Hymenoptera ‘Parasitica’ collection is one of the most representative of the Brazilian fauna and continues to expand due to the different projects developed. In addition, recent studies conducted at MZUSP have led to a substantial increase in the representativity of parasitoid hymenoptera in the collection, especially of wasps Ichneumonidae, Evaniidae, Gasteruptiidae, Ceraphronidae, and Diapriidae. The parasitoid collection houses an assemblage of about 50,000 specimens kept in dry and thousands more in kept in wet. In the collection can be found specimens collected in more than 140 locations in 22 Brazilian states, besides specimens from 15 other countries.

The wasps collection stands out for the representativeness of certain groups such as Chrysidoidea, Mutillidae (velvet-ants), Vespidae (swarm-founding), Pompilidae, and especially Sphecidae and Crabronidae. The wasps aculeate collection has a valuable material described by the Austro-Hungarian entomologist Adolpho Ducke between 1900 and 1920.

The bee collection covers a considerable area of the Brazilian territory but is mainly formed by material originating from the State of São Paulo. Collections made by K. Lenko, E. Garbe, and others in the interior of the State (half of last century), and by W. Wilms (end of last century) at the Boracéia Ecological Station contributed a lot to the enrichment of the assemblage. Countless types were deposited here by Curt Schrottky. The bee collection of MZUSP is one of the three largest collections in the country and provides information and relevant material for melitologists in their studies of diversity, taxonomy, phylogeny, and biogeography.

The ant collection is one of the most representative of the Neotropical region, both by the number of type specimens (4,741 type specimens of 892 species) and by the immense number of species deposited in it from a considerably large geographical area. The dry collection is housed in almost 1000 entomological drawers, gathering about 1 million specimens representing 17 subfamilies of Formicidae. The wet collection has approximately 800 pots with 20 samples each, mostly replicas of the assembled material. Its history is confused with the history of Myrmecology in the Neotropical Region, since here the most important collections were gathered, organized by W. Kempf, T. Borgmeier, and K. Lenko.

The sample types from all Hymenoptera groups have recently been catalogued and many illustrated in a series of articles in the Museu de Zoologia’s journals. Such a procedure is a way to preserve the specimens, so we avoid unnecessary transportation of this valuable material. Moreover, the availability of these data aims to democratize access to them.

In recent years, many students and researchers have contributed to expanding and qualifying the collection: Alvaro Doria, Alexandre Aguiar, Antônio Macedo, Bodo Dietz, Camila Pereira, Christiana Klingenberg, Christiane Yamamoto, Cristiane Scott-Santos, Helen Casarini, Emília Albuquerque, Flávia Esteves, Gabriella Chimenti, Helena Onody, Kelli Ramos, Larissa Jerez, Lívia Prado, Mônica Ulysséa, Nicolas Albuquerque, Ricardo Kawada, Rogério Silva, Rodolfo Probst, Rodrigo Feitosa, Rodrigo Gonçalves, Rogério Silvestre, Sérvio Amarante, Tamires Andrade, and Thiago Silva.

Hymenoptera systematics, evolutionary biology, phylogenomics and biogeography
Profa. Dra. Gabriela Procópio Camacho
Phone: +55 11 2065-6676

Hymenoptera systematics, evolution, and biology
Prof. Dr. Carlos Roberto Ferreira Brandão
Phone: +55 11 2065-8138

The collection’s digitalization is ongoing. Researchers that need information about specimens or access to high resolution photographs of type specimens should contact Dr. Camacho.

The collection is open to visitors pending space and time availability. Researchers interested in examining material should contact Dr. Camacho for scheduling their visit.

Aspiring graduate students with a strong interest in systematics and evolutionary biology and a love for insects should contact Dr. Camacho to discuss current opportunities.

 Postdocs interested in joining the lab are always welcome to get in touch and discuss potential funding opportunities.