The Invertebrates Zoology Section

The Invertebrates Zoology Section houses and deals with animals belonging to seven main groups (phylum): mollusks, roundworms, flatworms, echinoderms, sponges, cnidarians and arthropods. Over 95% of all animal species on Earth are invertebrates (animals without a backbone), with the phylum Arthropoda being the largest group in the entire animal kingdom. Arthropods are characterized by having an external skeleton, segmented body, and jointed limbs/appendages, and are grouped in five Classes. These are: Arachnida (e.g. spiders, scorpions, ticks& mites), Crustaceans (e.g. crayfish, crabs & shrimps), Chilopoda (centipedes), Diplopoda (millipedes) and the largest of them all, Insecta (e.g. house fly, butterflies, cockroaches, beetles& bees).

The main mandate revolves around three core areas:

  1. Research (pure & applied) and field collection of invertebrates within our borders,
  2. Their preservation & conservation (Curation), and
  3. Education, awareness and specialized training for visiting groups on the crucial role of invertebrates in nature, and supervision of students on attachment.

At the core of all these activities is the taxonomic component of invertebrate studies.


We pride ourselves as being the custodians of the largest collection of invertebrates in Sub-Saharan Africa which numbers more than three (3) million specimens. This collection was started in 1908 at a committee meeting of the east Africa Natural History Society (today Nature Kenya) following a proposal to start a collection of animals and plants by Sir Fredrick Jackson who was either then or later the Governor of Uganda. To start if off, he donated a box of butterflies. Materials for the collection were thus contributed by colonial settlers, administrators as well as the early missionaries. The oldest specimen in the collection is a blister beetle (family Meloidae) collected in Tanganyika in 1888. We celebrate the fact that our collection is probably the second largest (in terms of size) after the one in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and the only one of significance in the East and Central African region. The butterflies’ collection constitutes one of the largest and most complete of the African butterflies in the world. A detail of this collection is discussed below.

This collection is an important national resource which also serves as a reference collection for the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa. It comprises of material from terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. About ninety percent (90%) of the material is preserved dry in wooden cabinets while the remaining 10% is preserved in alcohol and on slides. The entire collection is being digitized for management purposes. The collection is from various parts of Africa with the majority of it being Kenyan.
Part of the collection comprises of type material with several holotypes, paratypes and syntypes. In total, there 2,737 type specimens comprising 441 species (excluding coleopterans and hemipterans that have been sorted into families) from only 11 Orders that have been published(see Otieno et. al., 2014) or contact the Head of Section.

Research Themes

The scientists in the Section and their national and international collaborators are undertaking research in various areas such as pollination ecology and food security, edible insects of Africa, invertebrates related to human and animal health, collection digitization among others.


  • An internship and attachment opportunity for students and for those who’ve completed their studies and would like to have a hands-on-experience in entomology as they shape up their careers.
  • Inaugural short course on “Fundamentals of Entomology’ is scheduled for September 2015, and shall be held annually thereafter.
  •  In-service training by visiting scientists.


  1. Specimens identification
  2. Digital imaging with a high resolution and magnification digital microscope.
  3. Specialized guided tours at an affordable fee.
  4. Consultancies in biodiversity inventories and Environmental Impact Assessments & Audits.
  5. Some field equipment may also be hired (at very special circumstances).
  6. We also regularly respond to the many inquiries on pests control in farms, businesses and at homes.

Ongoing Projects

The Section also collaborates with local and international institutions in research. Current collaborative research includes:

  1. Invertebrates biodiversity surveys in Protected Areas with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
  2. Invertebrates of wetlands of importance in Kenya with the Government of Kenya’s Ministry of Mining and Geology.
  3. Mosquitoes of the Kenya highlands with Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).
  4. Pests of Amaranth with Kenya Agriculture & Livestock Research Organization’s (KALRO) “Kenya Agricultural Productivity and Agribusiness Project (KAPAP)”.
  5. Biodiversity (Invertebrates) inventory in Ol Ari Nyiro (Laikipia Nature Conservancy) together with Gallmann Memorial Foundation.
  6. Edible insects of Kenya for food security, improved livelihoods and adaptation to Climate Change (funded by the National Commission for Science, Technology & Innovation, NACOSTI).
  7. Global Pollination Project, A GEF/UNEP/FAO funded involving seven countries and ten national institutions:
  8. DNA Barcoding together the International Centre for Insect Physiology & Ecology (ICIPE).

Collaborators and Affilliates

National Institutions

  • Bee Keeping Station, Lenana, Nairobi
  • Bondo University
  • Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology (JKUAT)
  • Karatina University
  • Kenya Agriculture & Livestock Research Organization (formerly KARI)
  • Kenya Medical Research Institute
  • Kenya Wildlife Service
  • Nature Kenya
  • University of Nairobi

International Institutions

  • Academy of Natural Sciences, Drexel University, PA, USA
  • California Academy of Sciences, CA, USA
  • Department of Ecology, University of Prešov, Slovakia
  • Texas A&M University, USA
  • Museum of Natural History, Madrid, Spain
  • Natural History Museum, London, UK
  • Smithsonian Institute, USA
  • Tsukuba, University of Tokyo, Japan
  • University of Calabria, Italy
  • University of Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain
  • University of Leicester, UK
  • University of Washington, Tacoma, USA

Staff list


  • Laban Njoroge (Research Scientist & Head of Section)
    Research Focus Area(s): Medical & Forensic Entomology; Conservation Entomology
  • Dr. Esther N. Kioko (Senior Research Scientist & Ag. Head Zoology Dept.)
    Research Focus Area(s): Conservation of invertebrates & commercial entomology.
  • Dr. Richard Bagine (Principal Research Scientist)
    Research Focus Area(s): Isoptera; Edible Insects.
  • Dr. Wanja Kinuthia (Senior Research Scientist)
    Research Focus Area(s): Agricultural Entomology; Bio-control; Pollination Ecology; Ecosystem Services.
  • Mr. John Kochey (Research scientist.)
    Research Focus Area(s): Aquatic (Marine & Freshwater) and Terrestrial Ecology; Taxonomy, Conservation and Aquaculture.
  • Mr. James Odanga (Research scientist)
    Research Focus Area(s): Conservation Entomology & General invertebrates ecology with strong interest in dragon flies, ants & tephritid fruit flies
  • Mr. Wanyoike Wamiti (Research scientist)
    Research Focus Area(s): Avain & Wildlife Parasitology, General Entomology; Nature Conservation
  • Jane Macharia (Research Technician)
    Research Focus Area(s): Bee ecology, collection, preservation & taxonomy; pollution ecology; dryland ecology
  • Ann Nyandiala (Research Technician)
    Research Focus Area(s): Environment conservation; Biology & Ecology of termites
  • Mr. Morris Mutua (Research technologist)
    Research Focus Area(s): Beetles and Collembola taxonomy and ecology; General invertebrates collection, preservation and taxonomy; Digital imaging


  1. Mr. Joseph Mugambi
  2. Ruth Achieng
  3. Mr. Reuben Mwakodi