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The Entomology collection holds approximately 980,000 pinned and labeled insects and 20,000 insects preserved in 70% ethanol. The specimens are primarily of insects and arachnids, with small holdings of various other terrestrial invertebrate specimens. The collection is especially strong in Coleoptera (Beetles) and Lepidoptera (Butterflies/Moths), with smaller but important holdings of Diptera (Flies) and Neuroptera (Lacewings). Material is representative of San Diego County and Southern California, with additional specimens from the southwestern United States.

Of additional interest are the collections from northwestern Mexico, primarily Baja California, that have been added over much of the past 60 years. A smaller specialized collection containing insects of forensic importance is also available. Read more about the collection.

The department is under the care of Curator of Entomology Dr. Shahan Derkarabetian with assistance from Collections Manager Pamela Horsley and numerous departmental associates.

The Entomology Department is supported in part by the John A. Comstock Entomology Fund, and donations from The Sahan Daywi Foundation.

Projects and News

Read what our scientists are working on. More.


The specimens in our Entomology collection document the past and inform the future. More.


We search and we research. We are keepers of the ecological record. Meet the team. More.


Understand this place we call home. More.

Checklists and Related Information

If you want to learn more about the insects and arachnids of our region, see our Reference section for species checklists, essays, books recommended by our staff, and other resources on our own site.

Checklists include:
Checklist of Butterflies of San Diego County
Checklist of the Spiders of San Diego County
Checklist of the Spiders of Baja California

The Story of the Schmidt Sting Pain Index

Join a young girl on her journey of discovery as she learns how to use the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. Thanks to the research of Justin O. Schmidt, who subjected himself to hundreds of stings from 78 different species of insects, we know the relative pain of their stings and how to colorfully describe the effects. For more information on the insects of southern California and beyond, visit

Use Policy and Contact Information

Please contact Entomology Collection Manager and Collections Registrar, Pamela Horsley, at 619.255.0193 for inquiries concerning access to the collection.