Asa Fitch was appointed Entomologist of the New York State Agricultural Society in 1854 and was directed to study especially those insects injurious to plants and to build a collection of insects for the state. Many types of Fitch's species of Hemiptera are in the Museum's collection. From 1855 to 1872 Fitch produced 14 major reports on the noxious, beneficial and other insects of the State, as well as numerous short articles. In 1881 an act of the Legislature created the position of State Entomologist. Joseph Albert Lintner was appointed to the post, and he served until 1898. During the last 36 years of his life he wrote 900 articles and 13 reports, mainly on insects injurious to agriculture. Ephraim P. Felt succeeded Lintner as State Entomologist, and until his retirement in 1928 he continued the State Museum's tradition of interest in injurious insects, concentrating mainly on medical entomology and forest entomology. More than one thousand types from Felt's gall midge collection are on indefinite loan to the United States National Museum. Felt wrote 25 official reports and numerous other articles. Timothy McCabe is the current State Entomologist.
The State Museum's more recent past entomological work had concentrated on medical and forest entomology, mainly through the efforts of past entomologists R.D. Glasgow, D. Collins, D.P. Connola, H. Jamnback, and R.G. Means, but also included taxonomic studies (J.A. Wilcox [Coleoptera], M. Delfinado [Acari], and J.K. Barnes [Diptera]). The current emphasis is on the,taxonomy, systematics (morphological and molecular), biology, and life history of insects through the work of Timothy McCabe and Jason Cryan. The insect collection contains more than one million general specimens and approximately 1,000 type specimens (excluding the gall midge types), mainly from New York State. The last decade has seen rapid expansion both in number of specimens and area of coverage.
Dr. Timothy L. McCabe is the curator of the insect collection and Dr. Jason R. Cryan curates the frozen tissue collection. McCabe's research interests include the taxonomy, natural history, and immature stages of Lepidoptera, especially Noctuidae. Cryan's research interest is the molecular systematics of the Auchenorrhyncha (Hemiptera).