All major taxonomic groups are well represented in the collection, but several areas of particular merit further description.

1. Embiidina. Collection holdings (mainly the E.S. Ross collection) for this order are the largest and most diverse in the world, with about 1,000 species represented (including at least 90% of described species, most represented by topotypic material and many by primary types, and hundreds of undescribed species). The collection includes about 500,000 specimens.

2. Thysanoptera. Principal holdings include the important D. Moulton collection, which contains about 25,000 slide mounted specimens, including hundreds of primary types, and another 10,000 specimens in alcohol.

3. Hemiptera/Homoptera. The main component of our holdings for this group is the E.P. Van Duzee collection, which alone includes 164,442 specimens. Representation is particularly strong for Pentatomidae (more than 23,000 specimens representing about 1,150 taxa) and Miridae (about 32,000 specimens representing more than 1,500 species). The I. La Rivers collection of Naucoridae is also an internationally important taxonomic resource.

4. Coleoptera. Holdings for beetles in general are very rich, representing about 35% of the entire collection. Particular strengths include: Carabidae (more than 250,000 specimens, especially the Kavanaugh and E.C. Van Dyke collections); Hydradephaga and Hydrophilidae (about 160,000 specimens, mainly from the H.B. Leech collection); Scarabaeidae (about 200,000 specimens, including the L.W. Saylor (ca. 40,000 specimens), Alan Hardy, and E.R. Leach collections); Staphylinidae (more than 150,000 specimens, including the important A. Fenyes collection; Cantharoidea, especially the J.W. Green and K.M. Fender collections; Nitidulidae, especially the L.R. Gillogly collection (more than 25,000 specimens); Coccinellidae (about 65,000 specimens, including the W.H. Nutting, Jr. collection); Melyridae (about 30,000 specimens, especially the F.E. Blaisdell collection); Tenebrionidae (more than 180,000 specimens, especially the F.E. Blaisdell collection); Cerambycidae (more than 120,000 specimens); Chrysomelidae (more than 140,000 specimens)p and Curculionoidea (more than 125,000 specimens, including extensive material from J.L. Gressitt, 100,000 from Elbert L. Sleeper). Major additions to the general coleopteran holdings in past years include significant parts of or the entire collections of O. Bryant (180,000 specimens), J.L. Gressitt (125,000 specimens), F.C. Hadden (200,000 specimens, R. Hopping (97,000 specimens), A. Koebele (100,000 specimens[beetle portion only]), and E.C. Van Dyke (about 280,000 specimens).

5. Hymenoptera. Representation of this order is particularly strong for the Aculeata, especially the Sphecidae. Identified holdings for that family include representatives of at least 3,900 described species (roughly 41% of the known fauna worldwide) and hundreds of additional, undescribed species.

6. Diptera. Holdings represent the second largest component of the collection. Most significant holdings include: Tabanidae (about 34,000 specimens, including more than 17,000 specimens from the C.B. Philip collection, representing more than 1,7000 species-group taxa [a publication is available on general collection holdings of Tabanidae]); Asilidae (more than 42,000 specimens, including nearly 27,500 specimens from the J. Wilcox collection, representing more than 950 Nearctic species alone); Platypezidae (more than 12,000 specimens, mainly from the E.L. Kessel collection); and Apioceridae (about 3,500 specimens).

7. Lepidoptera. Over 700,000 specimens representing over 100 families from global collections. Important California microlepidoptera holdings from Hartford H. Keifer, skipper collections from C. Don MacNeill, and other contributions from Albert Koebele, James W. Tilden, Thomas W. Davies, Paul R. Ehrlich, and Noel LaDue.

8. Aquatic Insects. Significant Trichoptera holdings include the collection of D.G. Denning (about 28,000 specimens, mainly from western North America). The Larry E. Serpa Aquatic invertebrate collection was donated to CAS in 2021 and includes over 200,000 aquatic insects collected across California.




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 (1945-1974), Hugh B. Leech (1947-1975), Paul H. Arnaud, Jr. (1959-1995; Chairman 1968-1978, 1988-1990, 1994).

Today there are three full time curators in Entomology, including Brian L. Fisher (2000-present; Chairman 2004-2007), Michelle Trautwein (2014-present), and Lauren Esposito (2015-present), and one research scientist Matthew Van Dam (2022-present). Our currently active emeriti include David H. Kavanaugh (1974-2014; Chairman 1979-1983, 1990-1992, 1996-1998); Wojciech J. Pulawski (1983-2011; Chairman 1983-1987, 1992-1993, 1998 - 2001, 2007- to 2011); and Charles E. Griswold (1992-2014; Chairman July 1994 - July 1996; 2001-2004).  

Norm Penny served as the first collection manager of the department starting in 1984, until his retirement in 2016. Chris Grinter is the second collection manager taking over in 2017-present.

Other entomologists were full-time, part-time, or temporary employees during the last 60 years, and among these are: Frank R.Cole, J. Wagener Green, Hartford H. Keifer, J. O. Martin, C. Don MacNeill, Thomas J. Zavortink, David C. Rentz, Robert X. Schick, and Robert L. Usinger. Notable individuals who have helped the Department extensively as volunteers in past years include Frank E. Blaisdell, Sr., Francis X. Williams, Rev. Edward Guedet, J.Linsley Gressitt, Edwin R. Leach, and E. Gorton Linsley.

The first insects and arachnids for the Academy's collection were received in 1854. By 1900, the collection had grown to about 50,000 specimens (including types of 350 species) through donations and Academy expeditions. The fire which followed the 1906 earthquake destroyed most of it, but the types of 264 Coleoptera, Hemiptera, and Hymenoptera species were saved. The Academy had sponsored an expedition to the Galapagos Islands in early 1905, with F. X. Williams as expedition entomologist. When the earthquake struck, the expedition had not yet returned to San Francisco. Thus, the specimens saved from the fire and others collected by Williams and other expedition members served as the nucleus of the Academy's new collection. The 4,000 insects collected by Williams served as the basis of the study of Galapagos entomofauna for the following 50 years. Subsequent growth of the collection from its low point in 1906 to its present size and condition is discussed below, under Description of the Collection.

In July 2004, the Academy moved to its temporary location in the South of Market District of San Francisco. The new Academy reopened in Golden Gate Park in September, 2008.




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 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.

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.

We currently have complete, specimen-level, databased records for 170,000 California specimens.

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.



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:

1. sign and return all loan invoices to the Lender immediately following receipt of materials;

2. use the CAS Collection (CASENT) labels sent with loans to tag all specimens(except those already so labeled) upon their receipt (these labels to be left with each specimen upon return);

3. maintain borrowed materials in a secure and pest-free environment at all times;

4. obtain specific and prior written permission from the Lender for any dissection or other treatment of materials which will permanently alter their integrity, manner of permanent storage, or future usefulness;

5. forward no part of the loaned material to a third or subsequent party without written permission of the Lender;

6. inform the Lender of any change of address and/or location of the material borrowed and obtain prior written permission from the Lender for relocation of the material;

7. return all materials to the Lender on or before the original or formally renewed loan due date;

8. make written request for renewal of each loan prior to the due date of the loan;

9. place an identification label (printed or clearly written) on each individual pinned specimen, vial, or slide mount before return (exceptions possible only by special arrangement with the Lender);

10. return all specimens received to the Lender, including those duplicate specimens which the borrower may wish to retain (the latter to be labeled and thereby identified for consideration by the Lender, who will evaluate each request and return the requested specimens if appropriate. Exceptions only by special arrangement);

11. return all derivative products of the borrowed material including but not limited to data, sequences, alloquats, dissections, and photographs;

12. arrange all materials returned in a manner which will facilitate their re incorporation into the Lender's collection;

13. return materials in the same or similar pinning boxes (e.g. Schmitt boxes, etc.) as those received from the Lender;

14. assure that all specimens are properly and safely packaged for return shipment;

15. cover the cost for return, in the appropriate manner, of all loaned materials to the Lender;

16. return all primary type specimens by REGISTERED AIRMAIL; and

17. provide the Lender with reprint(s) of papers based wholly or in part on study of CAS specimens as soon as available.


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