Natural history collections house over a billion insect specimens worldwide collected over several centuries. Specimen labels encode data denoting species, location, and date captured and are used to study biogeographic patterns, spread of invasive species, and responses to land use, climate, and other environmental changes. However, access to data is impractical for most of the research community. Because of enormous collection sizes, entomology has lagged behind other disciplines in digitizing collections.

In 2010-2015, funded by the National Science Foundation, the eight major terrestrial arthropod collections in California [California State Arthropod Collection, UC Davis Bohart Museum, UC Berkeley Essig Museum, California Academy of Sciences, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, San Diego Natural History Museum, UC Riverside Entomology Research Museum] formed CalBug, a collaborative effort to digitize and georeference insects and spiders collected throughout California, adding hundreds of thousands of records to the California Terrestrial Arthropods Database.

For more information visit the CalBug website.

Want to get involved? You can help us with our effort to transcribe records locked away in California’s entomology collections.