American Museum of Natural History

By M. Barrios Izás

Dates: January 30–February 3, 2023

Main purpose: To take pictures of Dryophthorinae species that has been reported for Guatemala.

Summary: Manuel Barrios visited the Coleoptera Collection from the American Museum of Natural History, New York. Pictures of 39 specimens of Dryophthorinae were taken, pictures will be available soon at “Portal de Biodiversidad de Guatemala” (

Acknowledgements: To Marilú Melgar and Manfredo Barrios who kindly hosted Manuel at their home. Manuel also spent a great time with María Segura and her daughter Margaret Angel who helped him during his time in the USA. Manuel also appreciates the kindness and help of Dr. Lee Herman, Coleoptera Curator, and Corey Shepard, Museum Specialist.

Reviewing type material Guatemalan weevils in the American Museum of Natural History

Guatemala is located within the Mesoamerican hotspot of biodiversity and has been a historical destination for exploring biodiversity. For instance, Spain's Royal Botanical Expedition to New Spain and the United Kingdom's Biologia Centrali-Americana were two notable expeditions. Despite being formally explored for over 200 years and having scientific collections since the early 19th century, the representation of Guatemalan biodiversity in insect collections is inadequate.

In 2019, I began creating an image gallery of the types of Cryptorhynchini from Guatemala at the British Museum of Natural History, which houses the weevil specimens collected by George Champion. In 2023, I had the opportunity to visit the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City, which hosts a significant collection of Dryophthorinae that were either collected by Patricia Vaurie or submitted by other entomologists for identification.

Visiting the AMNH's Coleoptera collection was relatively easy. I got in touch with Dr. Lee Herman (, who is the curator emeritus of Coleoptera and an extraordinary person. During my week-long visit to the museum, my main objective was to take pictures of the species of Dryophthorinae using a Nikon camera (D3300) equipped with a 105mm macro lens and a compact macro rail photo-stacking system. I used the Zerene Stacker software to stack the pictures.

I had a great time staying with Manfredo Barrios and Marilú Melgar, a Guatemalan family in North Bergen, New Jersey. They kindly hosted me, prepared delicious Guatemalan dishes, and played and sang original regional music during dinner. The museum is located opposite Central Park, and there are plenty of international restaurants nearby. Dr. Lee Herman and I used to walk and eat lunch together at some of these delicious places that are run by immigrants. Best places for having lunch around the AMNH were Nina´s Great Burrito Bar, Four Four South Village (I especially recommend the Spicy Beef, Tendon & Tripe Noodles Soup) and there is also plenty of Latin American restaurants in the center of Union City, NJ.

Moving from North Bergen, NJ, by public transportation was easy at any time. I used public bus routes from North Bergen to Port Authority Bus Station, NY, for $4.00 and then I took metro lines A or C to 81st, for this I bought a week pass for $33.00. I usually arrived at Museum at 6:30 in the morning and left around 4:30 pm, which is the staff schedule. On my way back, I usually enjoyed nature and took pictures as I walked through Central Park to the bus station, which was about a 30-minute walk. 

Regarding weevils, I took pictures of 39 specimens belonging to the genera Metamasius, Sphenophorus, Dryophthorus, and Rhodobaenus. On the last day, I reviewed the miscellaneous Cryptorhynchini drawers and found many interesting specimens from Mexico and Central America. Pictures will be available soon at the Biodiversity Portal of Guatemala, hosted by Arizona State University.

It was also great to meet some wonderful colleagues, Nayeli Gutierrez, a PhD student at Richard Gilder Graduate School, and Salvatore Anzaldo, whom I randomly encountered for the second time in a weevil collection. 

Last updated March 14, 2023