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New Museum Exhibit: The Intriguing World of Insects

The new exhibition illuminates the extraordinary world of insects through the collection of the Essig Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Berkeley

Insects are the most diverse macroscopic organisms on the planet. Researchers have identified over one million species of insects and estimate that five to thirty million more are waiting to be discovered. In fact, there are more species of ants than species of birds, and more species of beetles than all species of plants combined. Insects are everywhere—from shoreline to mountaintop, deserts to ponds, deep in the soil to the tips of the tallest redwoods.

Insects, spiders, lobsters, and their cousins are arthropods, meaning they have jointed legs and an external skeleton. The first insects appeared around 400 million years ago and evolved wings over 300 million years ago. Fossils of dragonfly ancestors, called griffinflies, had wingspans of over sixty centimeters. In contrast, the tiniest insects today have wingspans of less than one millimeter. But not all insects have wings. Some species, like silverfish, never evolved wings, while others, like camel crickets, lost them millions of years ago.

Insects play integral roles in ecosystems. They pollinate the flowers of many fruits and vegetables, produce wax and honey, keep pest plants and insects at bay, recycle nutrients through decomposition, and are important food sources for other species. Due to their small size, ability to fly and adapt to various habitats, and prolific reproductive abilities, insects permeate the Earth’s surface. Exhibited objects include more than 1000 specimens, fine art photography, rare books, and a remarkable anatomical model of Musca domestica, commonly known as the house fly.

This exhibition was made possible through a generous loan from the Essig Museum of Entomology, University of California, Berkeley. Special thank you to Peter Oboyski, Curator, Essig Museum of Entomology and photographer David Garnick.

Visit www.flysfo.com/museum/exhibitions/intriguing-world-insects for more information on the exhibition.


The Intriguing World of Insects is located pre-security in the International Terminal, Departures Level, San Francisco International Airport. This exhibition is accessible to all Airport visitors from April 27, 2019, to August 18, 2019