The major California Entomology Collections represent an enormous amount of information about the insects and other arthropods of the state of California developed over the past 150 years. They include the combined efforts of hundreds of professional and amateur collectors using many different techniques in all parts of the state. These specimens could be used for studies of crop pests, crop pollinators, vectors of disease, documentation of previous presence in cases of environmental catastrophe, or documentation of shifting geographical distributions.
Unfortunately, few people have been able to use these collections because it is so cumbersome and time consuming to study the labels and make accurate identification of the species. In 2011 a consortium of California collections received a grant from the National Science Foundation to digitize records of 29 major groups of insects and spiders in California. The collections involved are: Essig Museum of Entomology (lead institution ? U.C., Berkeley); Bohart Museum of Entomology (U.C., Davis); California State Collection of Arthropods (Sacramento); Santa Barbara Natural History Museum (Santa Barbara); University of California, Riverside; Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History; San Diego Natural History Museum; and the California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco). These collections were later joined by the University of California, Santa Cruz; and the Oakland Museum of California. It is estimated that when completed, there will be digitized records for 1.5 million California specimens in these collections. The CAS Entomology Department began working on this project in 2012 and to date have digitized records for almost 200,000 specimens. When complete, the records for the various collections will be combined into a unified database available for anyone to use. For more information visit http://calbug.berkeley.edu/.