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The entomological information service: learning about the insects that surround you!

The virescent green metallic bee (Agapostemon virescens) is recognized by its metallic green head and thorax.
Credit: Insectarium de Montréal (André Payette)
The virescent green metallic bee (Agapostemon virescens) is recognized by its metallic green head and thorax.
  • The virescent green metallic bee (Agapostemon virescens) is recognized by its metallic green head and thorax.
  • The giant water bug (Lethocerus americanus) is frequently found in swimming pools. Often it spends no more than a single night there.
  • The garden spider (Argiope aurantia) is generally found immobile, head down, at the center of a large web marked by a zigzag known as the stabilimentum. It ranks with the most beautiful spiders in Québec.
The entomological information service: learning about the insects that surround you!

What’s the name of that little green metallic bee? What’s that scary-looking thingy doing in my swimming pool? Is that big spider venomous? How can I control Japanese beetle populations without harming the environment? Those are some of the questions that the Insectarium’s entomological information service is delighted to answer. The service has been there since the museum opened in 1990, and every year receives hundreds of questions from the public. Each of them is answered free of charge by an entomologist. If necessary, the entire Insectarium team can be consulted to find the most precise answer!

Requests as instructive for us as for you!

What the entomological information service first and foremost suggests are tips or behaviors that will help you live better with the insects around you. Your questions, which come in all varieties, are unique and important. Some of them, which we’ve never even wondered about ourselves, are a challenge, and answering them brings us a sense of satisfaction and pride. In addition, dealing with you from day to day allows us to take the pulse of the population in terms of its entomological knowledge. For example, certain questions asked 30, 20 or even 15 years ago are almost never asked today, because people are more and more familiar with the entomological wildlife surrounding them. Finally, this service is a way of documenting the succession of species as seasons change, and many of you keep us informed as much about the arrival of the first Saturniidae in early June as the presence of garden spiders in late summer.

Easy queries online

The arrival and accessibility of digital photography give us a better understanding of your requests. Moreover, if you have a question, a photograph makes it possible to answer you more quickly. Still, for us to identify the insect presented with certainty, it’s important that you represent your specimen from different angles to show a maximum of morphological features. And since in order to identify certain insects it’s sometimes necessary to actually have a specimen, requests by mail are also accepted. In that case you have to make sure that the specimen is really dead, that it’s well preserved and that we get it in one piece! In all cases, precision is what’s required, and above all bear in mind that when you send us a picture instead of a specimen you’re contributing to the survival of our species, which when allowed to remain in their habitats continue their life cycle and maintain their populations.

Spotlight on citizen science

The Insectarium’s entomological information service is just one example of a project that answers citizens’ questions and encourages them to get closer to nature. In that light, if you’re interested in identifying butterflies and learning more about them, you can also participate in the eButterfly and Mission Monarch programs. Lastly, if you want to attract insects to your yard, you can also organize a Monarch Oasis or else a Biodiversity Garden. The choice is yours!

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