Entomology Collections Image

The entomology 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. Taxonomic strengths of the collection reflect the past and present research interests of the curators, including Coleoptera (beetles), Embiidina (web spinners), Diptera (flies), Hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps), Neuropteroida and Arachnida (spiders). Geographic strengths of the collection include western North America, Baja California, the Galapagos Islands, western South America, the Philippines, the Indo-Australian region, Africa, and most recently Madagascar.

Collection Highlights

All major taxonomic groups are well represented in the collection, but several areas of particular merit further description - Embiidina, Thysanoptera, Hemiptera/Homoptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Diptera, Lepidoptera, Scorpiones, Aranae and Insect fossils. 

Collection Databases

Type Collection Database

The Department of Entomology houses over 18,300 primary type specimens of insects, arachnids, and myriapods. All types have been cataloged and databased. Images of specimens and labels are available for some groups, including the families Carabidae (Coleoptera), Formicidae (Hymenoptera), Therevidae (Diptera) and Acroceridae (Diptera).

In addition to CAS holdings, the Academy also serves as a depository of primary types for 13 other institutions in the western United States. We receive these specimens on permanent or indefinite loan, depending on the institution and its regulations. By formal arrangement with institutions and authorities in several foreign countries (e.g., Peru and Papua New Guinea), we hold a few primary type specimens in trust, pending the establishment of permanent, long-term storage and service capabilities for type material within those countries.

It is difficult to check whether all of our type specimens have been validly published given such a large type collection. We urge specialists who recognize manuscript names or any invalid types to contact us.

Insect Collection Database

Thanks to generous support from the National Science Foundation, Department of Entomology has inventoried and databased our entire pinned insect collection. This species-level database includes data on 6,297,638 specimens representing 147,693 taxa. It does not include information on groups of arthropods normally kept in alcohol with the exception of the Trichoptera (caddis-flies) and Embiidina (web-spinners). It also does not include information on specimens out on loan (more than 700,000 specimens), and the approximately 3 million specimens gathered as part of the Madagascar Arthropod Biodiversity Project.

This database includes a considerable amount of geographical information. The number of specimens was recorded for all species and subspecies for each country. Additionally, the number of specimens was recorded for each state of North America (Canada, U.S.A., and Mexico) and each island group of Indonesia and the Galapagos Archipelago. Finally, the number of specimens was recorded for each county of California. For China, provinces were divided between Palearctic and Oriental Regions. For Indonesia, islands were divided between Oriental and Australian Regions. For Mexico, states were divided between Nearctic and Neotropical Regions. Florida was considered entirely Nearctic, and Japan was considered to be entirely Palearctic.

Collection Statistics

Antarctica   - < 0.00 %

Afrotropical Region – 5.97 %

Australian Region – 4.60 %

Nearctic Region – 63.45 %

Neotropical Region – 11.88 %

Oceania – 0.57 %

Oriental Region – 6.49 %

Palearctic Region – 7.04 %

 

Terms of Use

These databases and all images within them are owned and copyrighted by the California Academy of Sciences, ©2009, or licensed to it.  The data and images may be used freely by individuals and organizations for purposes of basic research, education and conservation.  These data and images may not be used for commercial or for-profit purposes without the express written consent of the California Academy of Sciences, and may not be repackaged, resold, or redistributed in any form.

Use of the data or images in publications, dissertations and theses, or other scientific reports, should be accompanied by an acknowledgement of the Department of Entomology, California Academy of Sciences, as the source for the information.  Please provide the Department with separates of articles resulting from the use of these data or images.  This helps us to document the use of specimens as “vouchers” in the literature.  It also helps us to justify continued funding for the collections so that these resources remain available into the future.

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.

Contact the Collections Manager

For inquiries please contact:

  • Norm Penny
  • Collections Manager
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • 55 Music Concourse Drive
  • San Francisco, CA 94118
  • 415-379-5320 (direct)

Loan Policy

For approved loans, the Lender agrees to:

1. provide requested materials, if available , as promptly as possible;

2. package requested materials so as to insure their prompt and safe shipment and receipt; and

3. cover the cost for shipment of requested materials to the borrower.

The Borrower must have an academic affiliation and agrees to the following.