• Catapaecilma evansi (Lycaenidae) Philippines
  • Eurhinus festivus Weevil
  • Acanthognathus teledectus
  • Adippe zebrina
  • Tiger beetle
  • Polychalca variolosa

The entomology collection of the California Academy of Sciences is one of the four largest entomology collections in the continental United States. It contains about 14,000,000 curated specimens, representing all orders, nearly all families, and approximately 250,000 species of insects, myriapods, and arachnids. In addition, there are approximately 3 million partially processed specimens from Madagascar and 4.5 million worldwide specimens in the unprocessed backlog.

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), Neuropterida (lacewings and antlions), Mecoptera (scorpion-flies), and Arachnida (spiders, scorpions and allies). Geographic strengths of the collection include western North America, Baja California, the Galápagos Islands, western South America, the Philippines, the Indo-Australian region, continental Africa, and most recently Madagascar.

Collection Highlights

Pentatomidae nymph

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.

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History of the Entomology Department

Entomology Department, 1929

The Department was established in 1862 with the appointment of Hans Hermann Behr as Curator, a position he held for 24 years (1862-67, 1882-86, 1892-1904). In the intervening years through 1904, the following entomologists served as curators for varied periods: E. S. Clark, Georg W. Dunn, Henry Edwards, Charles Fuchs, and Richard H. Stretch. Since 1905, the curatorial staff has included: Edwin C. Van Dyke (1905-1952), Charles Fuchs (1912-1914), Edward P. Van Duzee (1916-1940), Edward S. Ross (1939-1980; Chairman 1941-68), Edward L. Kessel (1945-1959), Hugh B. Leech (1947-1975), Paul H. Arnaud, Jr. (1959-present; Chairman 1968-1978, 1988-1990, Acting Chairman Jan - June 1994).

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Type Collection Database

Perdita scitula Label

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.).

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 6,698,868.0 specimens representing 157,693 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 900,000 specimens), and the approximately 3 million specimens gathered as part of the Madagascar Arthropod Biodiversity Project.

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Terms of Use

These databases and all images within them are owned and copyrighted by the California Academy of Sciences, ©2022, 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.


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Entomology Databases

The collection of the California Academy of Sciences is one of the four largest entomology collections in North America. It contains about 14,000,000 curated specimens, representing all orders, nearly all families, and approximately 250,000 species of insects, myriapods, and arachnids.

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Contact the Collections Manager

For inquiries please contact:

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

Entomology Loan Policy

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:

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