Insects are beautiful

This is a drawer full of a neotropical butterfly, Heliconius ismenius, a beautiful representation of insect diversity, pictured at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. The Centre for Biodiversity Genomics conducts field trips to museums to harvest DNA from identified species to help build the DNA barcode library. This past May we were visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, USA to return borrowed specimens and pick new ones. Specimens are taken back to the University of Guelph where we digitize specimen labels, photograph, tissue sample and extract DNA. All data is kept in an online repository called the Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD).