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Insects and other arthropods

The strangers around us

English
Locust borer, adult on goldenrod.
Photo: André Payette

Insects and humans are hardly physically similar. They have six legs, we have only two. Humans naturally move around by walking; insects can fly, swim, dig, climb or do huge jumps. Their skeleton is external; ours, internal. To grow, they have to shed their tight old skin and replace it with a new one. Many have compound eyes, either big or small, often facetted. Some use their legs to taste their food, some sing with their wings, and yet others emit light or secrete hormones that are discernable from far away. We share the same planet, but the way we and they inhabit it is vastly different.

Insects are all around us as soon the weather warms up. Because they take up so little space and are so much a part of our everyday lives, we often don’t even notice them. At other times, though, they become pesky enough that we try to get rid of them, whether it’s because of their irritating noises, their bites or their mere presence in “our” territory. The vast majority of these tiny animals are unknown to most of us. When they do spark our interest, however, our enthusiasm to learn everything about them knows no bounds.

Observing the insects around us provides endless opportunities. The first step is to take the time to discover the ones in our own backyard by observing their amazing range of behaviour and admiring their shapes, size and colours. Regardless of our ability – or inability – to identify them, we can always enjoy learning what they eat, how they move, and what their shelter looks like. Even experienced entomologists are surprised, after years of observation, to discover a new insect or a new behaviour in a known species.

We humans are a minority in a world largely dominated by insects. According to one estimate, there are 200,000 ants per human on our planet, as well as thousands of flies, fleas, bugs and beetles. Insects form the majority of living things that have scientific names, and it is very likely that there are millions more still to be discovered and formally named.

We invite you to visit this section of our site to learn more about the insects you may have seen in your garden, in the city, in a forest or in the countryside. These details will give you a good overview of some of the major insect groups you might find in your neighbourhood.

Learn about

  • Jewel beetles
  • Leaf beetles
  • Ladybird beetles
  • Springtails
  • Click beetles
  • Long-horned beetles
  • Fireflies
  • Mantids
  • Myriapods
  • Sap beetles
  • Aphids
  • Scarab beetles

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