So you’ve found an intriguing insect, spider or centipede? You’d like to know what it is and find out more about it? The Montréal Insectarium’s Entomological Information Service can answer your questions.
The goal of this free service is to:
- help members of the public identify the group (family) to which insect and other arthropod specimens belong;
- refer members of the public to different sources of information on arthropods.
You can reach us:
- by using our E-mail forms: Identify an insect, Concern about your health or have problems in or around your home
- by fax: 514 872-0662
- by mail:
Entomological Information Service
4581, rue Sherbrooke Est
Montréal (Quebec) H1X 2B2
Note that telephone, in-person or home consultations are not available.
It will take anywhere from just a few days to a month, during busy periods, to answer your questions. Request are handled on a first-come, first-served basis.
Leave live specimens in the wild
Many people bring live specimens to the Insectarium for identification, including some of Quebec’s loveliest insects. Most of these insects will die soon after they are collected.When you find an interesting live insect, we suggest that you leave it in its natural habitat, where it can complete its life cycle, contribute to maintaining its population and play its vital ecological role.
A picture is worth a thousand words!
Photographing insects and other arthropods is a fun pastime and a great way to help you and other people appreciate them ... without removing them from their natural habitat. The Insectarium accepts photos uploaded to its Website, in the following format: JPG, low resolution (72 dpi), at most 800 x 600, maximum 1 MB. You can also send us a print. Please make sure that your photos show the specimen in clear focus and, if possible, from different angles. That will make it easier for the entomologist to see all the details needed to identify it.
If you bring us a dead specimen, how should you preserve it?
To identify an insect, entomologists often have to be able to see some highly specific morphological features, such as hairs in a given spot on its body or the particular shape of a body segment. A complete and well-preserved specimen makes the entomologist’s job much easier.
Make sure that the specimen you wish to have identified is really dead, and not just injured. There are different ways of killing arthropods.
This is a simple and efficient method. Just put the specimen in the freezer for at least three days. Little pill bottles are perfect for small insects. Baby food jars and plastic bottles are good for larger specimens.You can place a piece of paper towel in the container to prevent condensation and stop the specimen from breaking if it bumps against the side of the container. Keep the specimen in the freezer until you bring it to the Insectarium. If you send it in by mail, remove the lid and let it dry for a few days first, then place it in a container with small air holes.You can add cotton batting or tissues to the container to protect the specimen in the mail.
Soft-bodied arthropods, like spiders, flies and many immature insects (caterpillars and other larvae), lose their shape when dried. This makes it difficult or even impossible to identify them. To keep them in good condition, you can preserve them in rubbing alcohol.Alcohol is recommended for killing small specimens, but not for butterflies, moths or other insects covered with scales or hairs. Make sure that the bottle containing the alcohol will not leak or break in transit.
Other notes concerning the Entomological Information Service
Students are encouraged to visit our Website which contains lots of information on arthropods from all over the world, and are sure to be useful for homework and research projects.
Any question concerning arthropods and health must be referred to your local Centre de santé et de services sociaux (CSSS).
Our Entomological Information Service does not:
- identify personal collections (specimens or photographs);
- assess the monetary or scientific value of personal collections;
- provide legal expertise;
- sell, loan or donate specimens from the Insectarium’s collection.
- With the exception of ticks (see below), specimens, containers and any other objects (e.g. pieces of wood or cloth) left with our specimen drop-off service will not be returned to you.
- If the specimen left with our drop-off service is identified as a tick, we will ask you to come and retrieve it and take it to your family doctor so that it can be sent to the Quebec public health laboratory (LSPQ). This is to help the Quebec government track the spread of Lyme disease in the province.
- If you think you have found a black widow spider or other exotic arthropod in any imported fruit or other goods, you must call the Quebec department of agriculture, fisheries and food (MAPAQ), which is in charge of handling imported exotic species: 514-280-4300, from Montréal island 1-800-463-5023, from elsewhere in Quebec.
For any sales-related information, please send your request in writing to:
4581, Sherbrooke Est
Montréal (Quebec) H1X 2B2
The Montréal Insectarium reserves the right to refuse any requests it considers unreasonable.
Just like the Insectarium,
how important it is for insects
and humans to coexist.