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Insects and other arthropods

Buying insects

Chysalids of the Idea leucone butterfly
Photo: Espace pour la vie (Insectarium de Montréal)
Chrysalids of the Idea leucone butterfly, South Asia

While many collectors have only the insects they have caught themselves, others are willing to pay to obtain specimens they want for their collections. It’s worth thinking twice before you buy any specimens, however, to avoid further diminishing some species that are already in danger.

Insects that are popular with collectors, like other animals and wild plants, can be considered a natural resource. Although it is renewable, this resource can sometimes come under so much pressure from insect collectors that some species may become threatened or rare. This makes them even more desirable in the eyes of certain collectors, and this in turn increases their scarcity.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is intended to ensure that international trade in animals and plants does not threaten the survival of their species. It regularly updates and publishes data to combat illegal trade in threatened species, many of them insects.

Fortunately, there are various businesses today that raise insects popular because of their beauty or scarcity. Many of these “insect farms” are supported by nature protection organizations like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). They are often located in tropical countries, and encourage biodiversity conservation. They can even contribute to local economic development, and to sharing knowledge relating to insect ecology.

If you are interested in buying insects, either at fairs or from specialized dealers in Quebec, or while travelling abroad, always ask about their origin. Ideally, you should look for ones from recognized butterfly farms or private breeders with strict codes of ethics, so as not to harm the sustainable development of the resource.

You can also purchase live butterflies to be released at weddings and other events. If you would like to hold this kind of event, make sure the insects were raised in captivity and not collected in the wild. You can check with the vendor, but there is also an international butterfly breeders association that can provide you with a list of reliable distributors.

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