May/June 2015 California Bountiful magazine
Story by Kate Campbell
Photo courtesy of Kathy Keatley Garvey
Insect zoos in California
Because bugs are everywhere, kids don't have to go far to find them. But there's a whole lot more to the insect world than finding a critter under a rock. California is home to many fascinating entomology museums (aka insect zoos) with amazing collections for families to "go buggy." Here are a few:
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
The Natural History Museum's entomology collection has more than 5.8 million specimens of insects and spiders. It's the largest in Southern California and has specimens from all over the world. Highlights include a plethora of ants, phorid flies, scarab beetles and moths from North and Central America.
San Francisco Zoo
The San Francisco Insect Zoo was originally created as a temporary exhibition in 1979, but proved so popular it became a permanent exhibit. Visitors will find terrariums filled with a variety of live insects—from backyards and afar—including millipedes, centipedes, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, tarantulas, scorpions, velvet ants (actually a type of wasp) and termites, to name a few.
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
The academy's entomology collection is one of the four largest in the continental U.S., with more than 10 million specimens representing all insect orders and nearly all families. Look for insects from North America, Baja California, the Galapagos Islands, western South America, the Philippines, the Indo-Australian region, Africa and, most recently, Madagascar.
R.M. Bohart Museum of Entomology, Davis
This museum on the University of California, Davis, campus houses the seventh-largest insect collection in North America and is worldwide in its specimen coverage. It includes more than 7 million specimens of terrestrial and fresh water arthropods, and is home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity of California deserts, mountains, coast and the Central Valley.