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Stéphane Le Tirant, the gentleman collector

Eupholus brossardi (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), a new species named in honor of the founder of the Insectarium, Georges Brossard, by René Limoges and Stéphane Le Tirant, in 2010.
Credit: © Insectarium de Montréal (René Limoges)
Eupholus brossardi
Stéphane Le Tirant, the gentleman collector

Elytrimitatrix charpentierae, Viracocha limogesi, Pseudocometes harrisoni – these are scientific names that belong to beetles. But they have something else in common: they were named in honor of members of the Insectarium team. Anne Charpentier is director of the institution, and René Limoges and Paul Harrison are technicians there.

In entomology, it’s quite rare for arthropods to bear the names of people who are neither famous nor entomologists themselves. But Stéphane Le Tirant is the happy exception to that unwritten rule.

Mr. Le Tirant is curator of the Montréal Insectarium collections. He’s the one who oversees the sorting, the installation, the presentation and the importing of the insect collections. Discovering news species is part of his trade. Whether he’s on an expedition or taking delivery of a new collection, no previously unknown species escapes his expert eye. An eye he’s been focusing on insects since a very young age: when he was five he was already on the trail of ants, armed with his magnifying glass!

If some of his taxonomist colleagues use their sense of humor in naming discoveries, Stéphane Le Tirant prefers to pay tribute to colleagues who, without his initiative, would not have enjoyed the honor. For this leader in the field, the work of technicians and everyone else involved in the presentation and maintenance of the collections is crucial, and mustn’t be allowed to remain in the shadows.

As an example, he cites what is doubtless his greatest achievement: the co-creation, with Mr. Fernand Boivin, of the Butterflies Go Free event. “Without the contribution of the technicians, that would never have been possible. You have to hook up the chrysalises, horticulturists produce the plants… There’s the original idea, then there’s a huge job that needs to be done afterwards.”

Stéphane Le Tirant has been part of the Insectarium team since the very beginning. For him, presenting insects to the public is more than a passion: it’s also a mission, a responsibility! “What interests me more than anything is the idea of the museum. Showcasing insects, with stories, themes… What we have to do is raise people’s awareness about insects, first about their beauty, and then about their role in the ecosystem.”

Mr. Le Tirant is working on a major project that will take the concept of Butterflies Go Free even further. An immersive nature experience, which will open in 2019. You’ll have to be patient: that’s all we can say about it right now!

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