The Montréal Insectarium works to safeguard the world's entomological heritage, by exhibiting its collections of mounted and live insects.
These collections consist of major donations: Georges Brossard, founder of the Insectarium, gave the institution his entire collection, Brother Firmin Laliberté donated 100,000 specimens, Gilles Deslisle, lepidopterist, offered a collection of 1,000 ornithoptera. In addition, there are numerous other collections from amateur entomologists.
The great diversity of specimens conserved at the Montréal Insectarium represents a very useful reference source for making entomological identifications. The collection comprises some 150,000 mounted arthropods. Parts of it have been computerized and are available through the national natural science database of the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN).
Since the Insectarium opened, the live collection has grown to about 300 species including 70% insects and 30% of arachnids. The breeding laboratory makes its collection of live specimens available to university research and teaching institutions in both Canada and the United States.
The Insectarium's mounted collection includes the scientific collection (150,000 specimens) and the exhibition collection (20,000 specimens). These 170,000 specimens of arthropods are divided up as follows:
- 97% insects
- 2,5% arachnids
- 0,5% myriapoda
Most specimens have been identified and labelled by Insectarium staff.