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25 years of favourites

Coleomegilla maculata
Photo: Guillaume Dury

The Insectarium is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2015, and we will be observing this milestone throughout the year by presenting the Insectarium staff’s 25 favourites. Insects whose colours, behaviours, functions, songs and beauty have fascinated or grabbed the attention of those who work with them every day.

  • Ladybug (Coccinellidae)

    Coccinella septempunctataNoémie La Rue Lapierre, director of Friends of the Insectarium:
    “As far back as I remember, the ladybug always came along with me on my summer wanderings. The little creature watched over me and kept me company. On the patio, in the garden, on the windowsill, I felt that this wonderful little scarlet-colored friend followed me wherever my life happened to go. So how distressing it was to learn that my one-of-a-kind friend was in fact very common, and that there were thousands of species of it. I got over that youthful shock, and now when I see a ladybug I can’t help smiling, remembering the sagas from earlier days.” 

  • Cicadas

    CigaleLydia Benhama, nature interpreter at the Montréal Insectarium:
    “Cicadas fascinate me because of their singing, which livens up the warm summer months with its electrifying rhythm. It’s the announcement of extraordinary discoveries and a call to love! And yes, I sometimes come across a cicada larva clinging delicately to the rough surface of a tree trunk, a sign it’s getting ready to transform one last time. A short while later, the adult takes its first flight. The males settle in the treetops to sing their courtship song to females.” 

  • The Troides genus (birdwing butterflies)

    Troides rhadamantusVéronique Archambault-Gendron, head of member relations with the Friends of the Montréal Insectarium:
    “Out of all the Insectarium’s vast and varied collection, my favourite is butterflies of the Troides genus, and especially the males! The contrasting colours of their wings make them easy to spot. You can also admire these mysterious and elegant butterflies during Butterflies Go Free.” 

  • Uropygid or whip scorpion

    UropygeJuliette Duranleau, nature interpreter at the Insectarium:
    “It may look repulsive at first glance, but the uropygid, or whip scorpion, is actually adorable! What I like about it is that it can change the way we think of arachnids. Here’s a funny fact: it’s also known as a vinegaroon, because it can spray a mist of acetic acid for up to 30 to 50 cm! The liquid is harmless to humans, but it makes the uropygid smell slightly of vinegar. I feel very privileged to be able to work with such amazing and delightful arthropods every day!” 

  • Giant prickly stick insect

    Extatosoma tiaratum.Marie-Ève André, nature interpreter at the Insectarium:
    “Nearly a decade ago, I fell in love with a giant stick insect as it nestled in the palm of my hand. Today, I get to share the experience with visitors who want to touch this fantastic species. Getting over your fears and exploring the fabulous universe of insects is a way of discovering how magical our world really is!” 

  • Fishing spiders

    DolomèdesCharles Montbriand-Leduc, nature interpreter at the Insectarium:
    “Fishing spiders are the largest spiders you’ll find in Quebec! I’m always amazed by their size and their ability to walk on water. Some of them can be up to 2.8 cm across – not counting the legs! You can also sometimes see them carting around a silk cocoon full of their tiny eggs. I love to watch them hunting off the end of my dock.” 

  • Polybothris sumptuosa from Madagascar

    Polybothris sumptuosaHélène Goupil, Administrative Secretary at the Insectarium:
    “The Polybothris sumptuosa from Madagascar can grow up to 35 to 38 mm long. What caught my eye is this insect’s lovely metallic blue-green colouring. It looks like a little piece of jewellery that’s both old-fashioned and modern.” 

  • Chrysiridia rhipheus moth

    Chrysiridia rhipheusPierre Veilleux, Entomology Technician at the Insectarium:
    “This iridescent moth is considered one of the world’s most beautiful. The shiny purple colour of its hind wings is entirely unique among the Lepidoptera. Judging by its behaviour, its bright colours and its shape, you might think it’s a butterfly. But you’d be wrong! It’s actually classified as a moth. It’s just that it has adopted a lifestyle that lets it take advantage of the sunny days in Madagascar. Despite the fact that it is active in broad daylight, much of its biology remains a mystery.” 

    Watch the video blog with Pierre Veilleux

  • Twelve-spotted lady beetle (Coleomegilla maculata)

    Coleomegilla maculataMarjolaine Giroux, Entomological Information Service:
    “I like this native Quebec species because of its colour and shape. After the Asian lady beetle arrived, the twelve-spotted lady beetle seemed to desert our gardens and move to farmland where it could find the aphids it needs to eat. Over time, though, its population appears to have recovered. In the past few years, we are seeing it again in our flower beds and vegetable gardens.” 

    Read Marjolaine Giroux's articles

  • Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus

    Danaus plexippus.Sonya Charest, educational programs officer and co-ordinator of the Monarchs Without Borders program at the Insectarium:
    “They’re colourful and elegant, a sign that summer’s finallya here. They migrate the length of the whole continent. They are adored by tens of thousands of people who have helped raise them. Yet they’re fragile. For me, monarchs are extraordinary ambassadors that encourage us all to protect nature.”

    Read Sonya Charest's articles

  • Giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

    Papilio cresphontesMaxim Larrivée, head of the entomological collections and research section at the Insectarium:
    “It’s not every 25 years that Quebec gets to add a new native butterfly species! This one is called the giant swallowtail or Papilio cresphontes. It’s the largest butterfly in North America, with a wingspan of up to 113 mm. It’s so large that it has to beat its wings constantly while browsing, so that the flowers don’t collapse under its weight! It was last spotted in Châteauguay in the 1880s before a giant swallowtail population was rediscovered in Quebec by the Insectarium team in 2012. Now they’re found in lots of places in southern Quebec, including at the Botanical Garden and in people’s yards!”

    For more information on the giant swallowtail (in french)

    Monarch oasis

  • Greta oto, a glasswinged butterfly

    Greta otoLorraine Bluteau, specialized horticulturist at the Insectarium:
    Greta oto is a butterfly with transparent wings that act as camouflage, allowing it to blend into the background. It’s so incredibly delicate! This is a fascinating feature, rare in the animal kingdom. I was so lucky to be able to admire it in its natural habitat in Panama.”

  • Hercules beetle, Dynastes hercules

    Dynastes hercules.Paul Harrison, Entomology technician:
    “Hercules beetles, Dynastes hercules, a kind of rhinoceros beetle, can be up to 17.5 cm long, making them some of the world’s largest insects. I have the pleasure of raising them for the Insectarium. It’s quite a challenge, since the larvae, which can also be really large and weigh up to 120 g, take two to three years to grow. So raising them takes lots of care and patience, but the results are truly spectacular!”

  • Proscopia sp. stick grasshopper

    Proscopia.Sonya Charest, educational programs officer and co-ordinator of the Monarchs Without Borders program at the Insectarium:
    “I just love the way grasshoppers and their cousins the Proscopiidae always look so surprised. With their expressive antennae, bulging eyes and constantly moving mouths, they always make me laugh. They remind me how you can always find wonderful surprises in the tiniest members of the natural world, if you just take the time to look.”

    Read Sonya Charest's articles

  • Marmessoidea rosea walking stick

    Marmessoidea roseaThérèse Cartier, Building Manager at the Montréal Insectarium:
    “My favourite insect is the Marmessoidea rosea, a member of the Phasmatoptera order. This attractive walking stick is found in Indonesia, and it eats leaves year-round. What I really like about it is how delicate it looks. When it spreads its wings, it looks like it’s wearing a pale pink skirt and a green camisole. A perfect outfit for a sunny day!”

  • Fireflies

    LucioleThe Insectarium team:
    With just a few days left before the Bearers of Light event opens, what other insect could the Insectarium team choose? Fireflies (or lightning bugs) are beetles that produce light signals as a way for males and females to communicate and find each other in the dark.  This amorous ballet inspired the multimedia installation where humans will be able to create their own dancing virtual fireflies. 

  • Trachelophorus giraffa

    Trachelophorus giraffa mâleRené Limoges, Entomology Technician at the Insectarium:
    “The giraffe weevil is an amazing beetle found in the tropical forests of Madagascar. The male has a very long head, which he uses to fight his rivals and protect the female while she is laying her eggs. The female deftly uses her legs and mandibles to shape leaves into small tubes to shelter and feed her brood.”

  • green darner

    Anax juniusVanessa Alarie, head of member relations with the Friends of the Montréal Insectarium and operations co-ordinator for Monarchs Without Borders:
    “You may have seen a green darner before. These charming dragonflies can be found throughout southern Canada and the United States. I like them because their colours remind me of summer. They’re considered the largest dragonflies, and can be 6.8 to 8.4 cm long with a wingspan of up to 9 cm! They’re still delicate, despite their size, and their wings make me think of lace.”

  • Macrodontia cervicornis

    Macrodontia cervicornis.Stéphane Le Tirant, Assistant Entomologist at the Montréal Insectarium:
    “The Macrodontia cervicornis is one of the largest longhorned beetles, but also one biggest of the 400,000 species of beetles on Earth! It has amazing characteristics: gigantic mandibles, a body length of up to 16 cm, spines on its prothorax and markings on its elytra for camouflage. There are 11 species of Macrodontia. All of them live in Central and South America. Some of them feature in local myths, like the Macrodontia jolyi said to live at the foot of the Venezuelan mesas.”

    Read Stéphane Le Tirant's articles

  • Damon diadema

    Amblypyge (Damon diadema)Paul Harrison, Entomology Technician:
    “We had an extraordinary event at the Insectarium recently. For a few weeks we had seen eggs forming under the bodies of two of our tailless whipscorpions. And then it happened: the eggs hatched! For a few weeks the young will hold on tight to their mothers’ backs for protection. They won’t disperse and start feeding until after they moult for the first time. It’s a rare sight for our visitors to enjoy!” 

  • Sunburst diving beetle

    Thermonectus marmoratus.Elizabeth Boileau, Nature Interpreter at the Insectarium:
    “You can see these incredible insects in ponds in Quebec. Sunburst diving beetles can both fly and swim! There are American sunburst diving beetles in the aquarium at the Insectarium and visitors think they look like miniature turtles. To breathe, a sunburst diving beetle traps a small bubble of air at the surface, then dives with it. It’s like a scuba diver with an oxygen tank.” 

    More information about aquatic insects

  • Thysania agrippina moth

    Thysania agrippinaVanessa Alarie, Member Relations Co-ordinator with the Friends of the Montréal Insectarium and Operations Co-ordinator for the Monarchs Without Borders project:
    “Did you know that this magnificent moth, called the white witch, is one of the world’s largest? Its wingspan can reach 30 cm. They say that people sometimes even mistake it for a bat or a bird at night! In addition to its impressive size, what I like about this moth, which looks a bit like a caramel mille-feuille, is that its wings and body are covered in a beautiful detailed pattern. Just imagine it in flight!” 

  • Atta Ants

    Fourmis AttaCarolina Torres, Nature Interpreter at the Insectarium:
    “I love to watch the thousands of female ants working in the highly organized ‘city’ of the ant colony. The stars of the show are the ones that carefully cut the leaves and haul them all the way to the nest. They form a long line as they carry their huge loads. It’s an amazing sight!” 

    See the exhibition schedule

  • Hummingbird clearwing moth Hemaris thysbe

    Hemaris thysbeMarjolaine Giroux, Entomological Information Service:
    “I like this species of moth because of the way it darts around, visiting our lilacs and the nectar-bearing blooms in our flower beds. It’s always a very welcome addition to our gardens. It hovers in much the same way as a hummingbird, so you can watch and photograph it in action.” 

    Read Marjolaine Giroux's articles

  • Weevil Eupholus schoenherrii

    Eupholus schoenherriiAnne Charpentier, Insectarium director:
    “There’s an amazing diversity of insects at the Insectarium, and they can be stunningly beautiful. I’m particularly fond of the weevil Eupholus schoenherrii, which lives in Papua New Guinea. Did you know that the blues and deep turquoises of its exoskeleton are the result of the light reflecting off scales that act like crystals? In anticipation of the Insectarium’s metamorphosis, our team hopes to start breeding these weevils so that you can see them alive and moving around!” 

    Read Anne Charpentier's articles

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