A Canterbury Museum research fellow who has collected over 140,000 insects over the past 57 years says it's not the number of insects that count - it's how they've been useful over the years.
Canterbury Museum has been awarded over $200,000 for the second stage of a project to catalogue the collection of Peter Johns, which will provide access to 140,000 invertebrate specimens.
"You don't think of numbers, you think of what is useful for solving problems in the health of forests, or the sea shore, or in dunes," Mr Johns said.
The collection is acknowledged nationally and internationally and includes craneflies, weta, millipedes and centipedes from all over New Zealand.
Mr Johns told NZ Newswire during the years his collection was mostly used as a teaching collection.
He was recently recognised for this work as a Fellow of the Entomological Society of New Zealand, an honour that only seven other living New Zealand entomologists have received.
The project has been the focus of the museum's natural history team for the last two years, with the first phase starting after a grant of $203,000 was awarded in late 2015.
The team are on track to catalogue 70,000 specimens by March and the aim is to catalogue the second 70,000 over the next two years.
Museum director Anthony Wright says cataloguing the collection will make available, for the first time, new baseline distribution data and specimens that add to our knowledge of the status of New Zealand's invertebrate fauna.
"This will directly lead to the promotion, protection and preservation of New Zealand's native fauna," he said.