San Francisco Bay Wildlife
Wildlife of the San Francisco Bay Area


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Insects of San Francisco Bay Area

Tarantula Hawk
Tarantula Hawk - Pepsis pallidolimbata (Mount Diablo)

Tarantula Hawk
California Yellowjacket - Vespula sulphurea (Mount Diablo)

Devastating Grasshopper
Devastating Grasshopper - Melanoplus devastator (Sunol Regional Wilderness)

Cobalt Milkweed Beetle
Cobalt Milkweed Beetle - Chrysochus cobaltinus (Morgan Territory)


Jerusalem Cricket
Dark Jerusalem Cricket - Stenopelmatus fuscus (Point Reyes Station)
Credit: Jeff Deitchman

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to a number of insects, including different types of butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies, beetles and grasshoppers. You can find them in all types of habitats including urban areas.

The San Francisco Bay Area has a high diversity of insect species because of the diversity of the local environment. The juxtaposition of high insect diversity and an area intensively used by humans led to the first recorded extinction as well as the first efforts to conserve insects in the United States.


Over 100 species of ants are native to the Bay Area. The invasion of the introduced Argentine Ant - Linepithema humile, has mostly driven the native ants out near urban areas.

Some local species:

Some links:

  • Bay Area Ants, section on AntWeb. This site has detailed photos and scientific descriptions. You can generate lists by local counties. 
  • Ants of Marin County, by Brian Lee Fisher on iNaturalist 
  • Ants section on - this site has great photographs of many ant species and some other insects too. 
  • A key for identifying 16 common species of ants found in San Francisco area by Kevin M. Clarke 
  • Dr. Eleanor's Book of Common Ants. Descriptions, photos, habits and range maps for several common ant species, downloadable pdf file. 
  • Anting in Morgan Territory, Contra Costa County with great photos and notes 


Around 90 species of native bees, from 5 families, are found in urban parts of the Bay Area. These are Apidae, Andrenidae, Colletidae, Halictidae, and Megachilidae. The most common species, the Honey Bee - Apis mellifera, is however an introduced (exotic) species from Europe.

Some local species:

Some links:

  • Some nice Bee photographs in our Flickr group - 
  • Common Bee Groups in the San Francisco Bay Area - 
  • A Practical Guide to Bee-friendly Urban Gardens by the Bee Lab at the College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley. 
  • Native Bees Found In The Greater San Francisco Bay Area Region, With Some Of Their Likely Plant Hosts, Yerba Buena Nursery. 
  • Guide to the Bombus of San Francisco By Quinn S. McFrederick 
  • Pictorial guide to North American bumble bees 
  • Pocket guide to identifying the Western Bumble Bee - Bombus occidentalis 


Some local species:

Some links:

  • Some nice Wasp photographs in our Flickr group - 
  • Summary of Napa County Yellowjackets - 


Some local species:

Some links:

  • Beetle photographs in our Flickr group 
  • Ladybug Pajama Party - KQED Quest video about wintering ladybugs in Redwood Regional Park 
  • The Ladybug Hotel - a humorous approach to the large numbers of wintering ladybugs in Oakland's Redwood Regional Park. 
  • Field guide to Ladybug species from the Lost Ladybug Project 
  • It's Raining ... Rain Beetles? by Kate Brittain, Bay Nature, October 2008. 

Grasshoppers, Crickets and Katydids

They are all included in the order Orthoptera. Some local species:

Some links:

  • Orthoptera photographs in our Flickr group 
  • Grasshopper Identification guide on Flickr by Alice Abela. Very nicely done with annotations pointing out identification characteristics. 
  • Singing Insects of North America is a comprehensive site for Crickets, Katydids, and Cicadas. 
  • Spelunking for the Farallon Cave Cricket (Farallonophilus cavernicolus) - a species endemic to the Farallon Islands. 


They are in the order Mantodea and are commonly called Praying Mantis. Some local species:


  • A selection of useful reference books can be found here - Insect Books  ...more 
  • Eddie Dunbar has produced a CD guide to Lake Merritt and Greater Oakland Insects. 

Insect Articles and Links

  • BugPeople is an Entomology Outreach program based in Oakland. Their website has many photographs and other resources for studying Bay Area insects. 
  • Insects of the Bay Area - a collection of photographs by the Insect Sciences Museum of California 
  • Photographs of insects in Lake Elizabeth area of Fremont, by Alice Cavette. Covers a pretty wide varietly of insects and spiders. 
  • Insects of Pepperwood Preserve, a guide on iNaturalist 
  • BugGuide.Net is a great resource for insects and spiders. It contains a vast collection of photographs submitted by users all over North America. You can browse by taxonomical arrangement or search using different fields. 
  • An illustrated overview of the orders of insects in BugGuide. 
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