Insects of the San Francisco Bay Area (ISFBA)


The ISFBA program adds to the knowledge about insects of the San Francisco Bay Area by photographing and cataloging Bay Area insects, and then creating regionally specific publications. The program began as a project to write a field guide, but expanded to engage citizen scientists in an exploration of Bay Area insect diversity and to conduct training needed in that exploration.


Inspiration for this effort began in 1997 at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1996, Felix Sperling , Ph.D. (now at University of Alberta) spearheaded a grant to the Interactive University named “Exploring Urban Biodiversity” (“CityBugs,” informally). Also on the faculty committee were the late Don Dahlsten, Ph.D. Associate Dean, College of Natural Resources; Vernard R. Lewis, Ph.D. Senior Cooperative Extension Specialist, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources; and Jerry Powell, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Essig Museum of Entomology, University of California, Berkeley. The goal of CityBugs was to bridge the digital divide between underserved communities in Oakland and the University of California. Associations were created between the UC faculty and students at McClymonds High School who were engaged to help write a primitive, web-based version of “Insects of the San Francisco Bay Area.”

The ISFBA program differs from CityBugs. In CityBugs students were trained in the technology used to create content. The goal of ISFBA is to foster citizen science. The major lesson learned in CityBugs is that non-scientists do make worthwhile discoveries, but in a non-academic context these contributions are not recognized or are undervalued. ISFBA seeks to build a bridge from lame to fame where people in non-traditional scientific communities can have their contributions supported, affirmed and celebrated.


In support of the goals of ISFBA to photograph and catalog insects ISMC hosts the following events:
OctoberInfest - Like Octoberfest, but with bugs and suds.
Mid-Summer Moth Madness – An annual event that is part of a national observance to appreciate the role moths play in the environment.
Insect Photography Clinic (and variations) – Workshops and field photography events held to increase the abilities of photographers throughout the Bay Area to take and share better insect photos.
Annual & Other Bug Camps – Camps held for ISMC participants that teach how to observe, collect and photograph insects.
Site-based Insect Surveys – Collecting and/or photography workshops at ~15 sites where ISMC teaches insect appreciation.

Participation with Other Organizations

In addition, ISMC participates in activities led by other organizations that further ISMC’s goals for photography, insect cataloging and training of citizen scientists.

These organizations include:

California Center for Natural History
Environmental Stewardship, Public Works, City of Oakland
Nerds for Nature
Pollinator Posse
Rotary Nature Center, Parks & Recreation, City of Oakland


Insects of the San Francisco Bay Area field guide (in preparation)
Insects of the San Francisco Bay Area field guide
>2,256 Photographs & Webpages
>58 Sites-based Field Guides


Facebook Group:
Facebook Page:
Meetup Group:
iNaturalist Project:
Share Your Photos: SHARE PHOTOS NOW

Contact Information

Eddie Dunbar
Telephone: (510) 506-2837