Entomology Highlights

  • People

    Get to know the Entomology Department.
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  • Projects

    Learn about current research.
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  • Resources

    Links and more information about Entomology.
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  • Collections

    Explore the Entomology collections.
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Welcome to the Department of Entomology! Insects and arachnids (spiders and their kin) account for more than four-fifths of the described species in the world. These web pages have been created to provide more information about the collection, departmental staff, and on-line resources. As you search through these pages, we hope that you will sense some of the same excitement that we experience working with these colorful and fascinating creatures.

Philippine Islands Biodiversity Project

by Norman D. Penny and Charles E. Griswold


In early 2011 the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) decided to launch a multi-disciplinary project to study the biodiversity of the Philippine Islands.  Researchers and students would go to the Philippines and together with Philippine scientists and students collect for up to six weeks during the period of May and June.

Curculionidae. Photo by Rachel Diaz-Bastin.

Chasing Beetles, Finding Darwin

QUEST on KQED Public Media.

It's been 150 years since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species. Yet his ideas remain as central to scientific exploration as ever. QUEST follows researchers who are still unlocking the mysteries of evolution, like entomologist David Kavanaugh, who predicted that a new beetle species would be found on the Trinity Alps. Find out if his prediction came true.

Research Expeditions

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Entomology Staff


















The collection of the California Academy of Sciences is one of the four largest entomology collections in North America. It contains about 10,000,000 curated specimens, representing all orders, nearly all families, and approximately 250,000 species of insects, myriapods, and arachnids.


  • What are the sources of the collection?

    The collection has developed and continues to grow through the acquisition of materials from diverse sources. Historically, field studies and expeditions by staff researchers have served as the primary source of materials for growth of the collection. About 50% of the entire collection of accessioned and unaccessioned specimens has been acquired through collections by staff. Especially during the past decade, donations from external sources have become a major component of collection growth. The acquisition of so-called "orphaned collections" has also contributed to collection growth. Fewer, yet significant, materials are also acquired through exchanges, direct purchases, and the financing of fieldwork by non-staff collectors and researchers, who obtain material for the collection in exchange for partial field support. During the period 1989-1993, more than 564,000 new specimens were accessioned into the collection. Of these, about 50% were additions by staff, the other 50% from other sources.

  • Where can I find job opportunities?

    Please visit the Employment website for job announcements.

  • Can you ID this insect?

    Please contact the Naturalist Center at Naturalist@calacademy.org, and attach a photo and short description.

  • How do I donate specimens?

    The Department has received tens of thousands of donations from over a thousand sources during its history. Control of collection growth from this source, even in keeping with a clearly defined acquisition policy, and the allocation of resources to processing these incoming materials is our most difficult collection management challenge. Please contact Senior Collections Manager Norm Penny at npenny@calacademy.org.

  • How do I become a volunteer?

    Please visit the Volunteer website and contact the Volunteer Department at volunteer@calacademy.org or (415) 379-5111.

Contact the Department

Academy Research News

natural history collection

The Importance of Natural History Collections


Front Cover Hearst Publication

CAS Special Publication: The Coral Triangle - The 2011 Hearst Philippine Biodiversity Expedition


The California Academy of Sciences is pleased to announce that 12 new members have joined the ranks of the Academy Fellows, a governing group of around 300 distinguished scientists who have made...