The Systematic Entomology Laboratory (SEL), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is responsible for the identification of insect specimens. Its work provides basic support for biological control projects, environmental studies, and research activities of federal and state agencies and other organizations. SEL scientists are also active in research focused upon insect groups of economic importance to American agriculture. SEL maintains offices and laboratories at the National Museum of Natural History and at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland.
Taxonomic work in entomology at the USDA was given separate status in 1925 with the creation of the Division of Taxonomic Investigation. Sievert Allen Rohwer was placed in charge of the Division. Prior to 1925 taxonomic work was performed by the Entomologist of the USDA, his staff, or outside specialists. During its sixty-one year history, the section responsible for entomological taxonomy at the USDA has undergone numerous administrative reorganizations and name changes. Over most of those years it has had four titles: Division of Taxonomic Investigation, 1925-1934; Division of Insect Identification, 1934-1952; Insect Identification and Parasite Introduction Research Branch, 1959-1972; and Systematic Entomology Laboratory, 1972- . The period 1952 to 1959 witnessed several name changes. USDA entomologists in charge of taxonomic work have included Rohwer, 1925-1927; Harold Morrison, 1927-1935; Carl Frederick William Muesebeck, 1935-1954; Paul W. Oman, 1954-1960; William H. Anderson, 1960-1966; Reese I. Sailor, 1967-1972; and Richard H. Foote, 1972-1976.