Entomology is the study of insects. This can also include arachnids and other terrestrial invertebrates.
The Spencer Entomological Collection holds specimens from as far back as the 1830s. Dr. George J. Spencer began the collection in the 1920s, but it wasn’t formally established at UBC until 1953. By the time he left in 1958, the collection had grown to over 300,000 specimens. Dr. Geoffrey G.E. Scudder served as the collection’s director from 1958 to 1999. Both Dr. Spencer and Dr. Scudder were avid collectors and expanded the collection greatly, particularly its holdings of fleas, lice, and the true bug families Lygaeidae and Miridae. Dr. Wayne Maddison became the collection’s director in 2003 and enlarged the collection of jumping spiders into one of the world’s best through field work in tropical and temperate regions.
The collection today holds over 600,000 specimens and is the second-largest entomological collection in western Canada. It contains numerous holotype specimens, such as the planthopper Achrotile distincta, which Dr. Scudder discovered in the Cariboo-Chilcotin in 1959 and described as a new species in 1963. It also holds historical specimens of species that have disappeared from the province, such as the viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus), last collected in Lillooet in 1930.
Over half a million pinned specimens, 75,000 alcohol-preserved specimens and 25,000 specimens on slides showcase BC and the Yukon’s spectacular insect diversity. Past collectors’ particular projects have shaped the collection, and have resulted in particularly strong holdings of Hemiptera (true bugs), Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies), Siphonaptera (fleas) and Anoplura and Mallophaga (lice).
Using the Collection
Visit the Spencer Entomological Collection Online Database for
- Main Collection: photographs of all species represented in the collection
- Type Collection: Holotypes and Allotypes in the collection
- Notable Collections: descriptions of important collections
- About: history of the collection
- Contact: for insect identification and research queries
For studies showing how the Spencer Entomological Collection has been used, please see our Articles & Papers page.
Watch this video to learn how to collect jumping spiders.
The collection was begun in the 1920s by G.J. Spencer.