Introduction to the BMIG reference collections

The BMIG Reference Collection of Woodlice, Millipedes and Centipedes is housed at the British Entomological & Natural History Society’s Headquarters at Dinton Pasture’s Country Park, Reading.  It is stored ‘wet’ in 70% alcohol.
Anyone is welcome to examine the collections, during BENHS open days, or by prior arrangement with the BENHS Collections Manager.  Details of all samples have been entered onto a Microsoft Access database to aid search and analysis.
There are two main aspects to the collection:

Basic Collection

This is intended to be one example of each British species of Woodlouse, Millipede and Centipede so that anyone new to the groups can quickly find reference material in order to check identifications, or to familiarise themselves with each species.  It is ideally suited for training purposes, such as the BENHS ‘Woodlice, Millipedes & Centipedes’ workshop held each October.
This collected is stored in screw-top Bijou bottles, one bottle for each species. Microscope slides of relevant parts for identification (e.g. sexual structures for small woodlice and difficult millipedes) have been prepared for some species.  For contents of Basic Collection click here

Research Collection

This is intended to be a collection of reference material of Woodlice, Millipedes and  centipedes for future comparative studies. Ideally it should comprise up to ten tubes, each with six or more specimens of each sex where possible, plus immatures, collected from a variety of localities in Britain within each species range.
It will provide a home for collections that have not been otherwise allocated to a museum, so that they are not lost, and important voucher specimens (e.g. new national records).  Possible research avenues include the study of geographical variation within a species, or the search for further cryptic species in British populations.  For contents of Reference Collection click here

Material held

The tables below give some indication of species representation and geographic distribution of samples. Many species are yet to be represented in the collection and there is a geographical bias with over ¾ of the samples coming from Wales (see Table below).
Number of Species on British List and number represented in BMIG Collection
and distribution of Samples by Region
Species on GB List
Species Represented
No. of Samples
Southern England
Northern England

Additions to the BMIG collection

BMIG would welcome samples from anywhere - particularly:
  • Examples of species missing from the Basic Collection.
  • Voucher specimens from a noteworthy record or study.
  • Specimens to improve the geographical balance (e.g. from northern England and Scotland).
  • Specimens from remote areas, or of elusive species.