Insects and other Invertebrates

Norris Center Collections

The Norris Center houses three distinct insect collections:

  • The Randall Morgan Insect Collection includes approximately 72,000 specimens collected from 39 different locations in Santa Cruz County. In 1993, Morgan published a description of a new species of tiger beetle (Cicindela ohlone) known only to occur in several small patches of coastal grassland in Santa Cruz county. His efforts led to the eventual recognition of the Ohlone tiger beetle as a federally endangered species. The Norris Center is currently supporting graduate student projects that involve re-visiting some of Morgan’s original study sites to study changes in insect diversity and plant phenology. Read more about Morgan's work at the Randall Morgan Initiative website,  and search our collections on SCAN bugs
  • The Gerhard Ringel Butterfly Collection includes approximately 5,000 specimens collected from around the world. In addition to featuring butterflies from tropical regions throughout the world, the collection also includes many of the species from the central coast of California.  Professor Ringel hand-raised many of the butterflies from eggs or caterpillars, resulting in perfect specimens with no wing damage.  The late Gerhard Ringel was a professor of mathematics at UC Santa Cruz who had a passion for butterflies.  In 2007, he donated his collection to UCSC.
  • The Insect Teaching Collection includes approximately 5000 specimens with an emphasis on taxonomic diversity appropriate for teaching entomology.

Other Norris Center Resources

The Natural History of the Family Syrphidae, and a Field Guide to the Common Genera of Syrphidae in Santa Cruz County

Norris Center undergraduate Jessica Correa created two guides to the hoverflies (family Syrphidae) of UC Santa Cruz for her senior thesis.

Common Aquatic Insects of West Marin County: An Informational Booklet

Norris Center Student Award winner Teague Corning created a field guide to the common aquatic macroinvertebrates of Marin County. Corning also focused on how benthic macroinvertebrates might function as envrionmental indicators

The Influence of Sugar Concentration on Bumblebee Thermoregulation: Implications Under Climate Change

Norris Center Student Award winner Alexander Prieto studied how temperature affected bees ability to thermoregulate. Prieto found that bees that had recently consumed nectar could more efficiently thermoregulate. His results are worrying in a warming climate where plants are predicted to produce less nectar.

Causes of Mortality to an Overwintering Population of Western Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus) at Lighthouse Field in Santa Cruz, California

Norris Center Student Award winner Ricardo Ruiz collected 1,711 dead monarchs from Lighthouse Field to determine how monarchs were dying. Ruiz found that over 60% of monarchs likely died from either yellowjacket or birds. Ruiz's results are important for manging the population of overwintering monarchs at Lighthouse Field.

Odonata of Santa Cruz

Norris Center interns Marissa Salamat and Jewel Palanca created an internet-based field-guide to the dragonflies and damselflies of Santa Cruz.

spiders of ucsc coverWhile not insects, a recent Norris Center undergraduate, Maycee Hash, published a field guide to the spiders of UCSC. Check it out on Amazon, or come to the Norris Center for a discounted price. 

Using Solitary Bees for Pollination in Agricultural Settings

Norris Center Student Award winner Forest Peri studied the factors influencing how native bees choose artificial nests near community gardens around Santa Cruz County. Peri studied the effects of nest substrate, cavity size and nest location on colonization rates of six nests at three sites around Santa Cruz County.


Guide to Ticks of Santa Cruz County

Norris Center Student Award winner Vanessa Cabrera and advisor Tina Cheng compiled important identification and public health information on the ticks of Santa Cruz County.

Using the Randall Morgan Insect Collection to explore bumblebee phenology, plant associations, and their implications for conservation

Daniel Simoni (Environmental Studies, 2018) studied emergence patterns and plant associations with various bumblebee species (Bombus spp.). Simoni tracked the behavior (emergence, reproduction and feeding) of male and females of multiple bumblebee species using Randy's detailed data.

Characterizing the Plant-Pollinator Interactions of Bombus in Santa Cruz County

Jesse Laine (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2018) examined bumblebee community dynamics over the 10 years that Randy sampled bumblebees in Santa Cruz County. He looked at temporal changes in bee richness as well as changes in the network of plants visited by these important pollinators.

Tracking the Lycaenid Butterflies using Randy Morgan's Insect Collection

Alexandra Ahmad (Environmental Studies, 2019) summarized how lycaenid butterfly diversity had changed over the 10 years that Morgan collected insects in Santa Cruz.


Other Insect and Invertebrate Resources

Bugs That Invade Your Home

Explore the many different insects that may be invading your home with this to-the-point guide that includesc helpful ideas for shooing them away.

National Geographic: bugs

Website by the publishers of the world famous magazine, chock full of amazing insect photographs, videos, and articles.

Insects Open Access Entomology Journal

An electronic peer-reviewed entomology journal published by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute. This journal is free to access - great for research papers!

LiveScience: Insect

Fascinating articles and videos on the latest research on insects and other invertebrates.


Bug Guide

A massive database of taxonomically sorted arthropod photos. Users can submit high quality photographs of North American arthropods to be identified.

The Outdoor Enthusiast's Guide to Bugs

A wonderful compilation of links to articles, fact sheets, and other educational resources on a variety of insect topics.

Entomology at Home

A simple guide to the common insects found around North American houses.