Behind the scenes at the Insectarium

Goliathus goliathus du Cameroun, la plus grande cétoine du monde en élevage © Insectarium de Montréal
Behind the scenes at the Insectarium

Did you know that the Montréal Insectarium is a museum that is unique in North America thanks to the wealth of its living naturalized collection and its museum-type concept? The collections team has over the years developed an expertise relating not only to the diversity of its live collection but also to the originality of its presentation to the public.

Throughout the year the public can discover a multitude of living insects without ever suspecting all the work that goes on behind the scenes every day. Before a live insect can be presented to the public, official permits issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have to be obtained. Also, the insect’s life cycle has to be studied and a breeding protocol needs to be developed: if the insect feeds on a certain plant, the host plant has to be found and cultivated in the Insectarium greenhouses to provide for the insect’s needs all year long. A strain of that insect can then be imported, raised, studied and put on display in a vivarium. The technicians make every effort to re-create their microhabitats as naturally as possible in order to exhibit them to the public as though they were in their native environment. Vivarium, aquarium, or even an anthill – whatever it takes to present insects in an original way!

The impressive anthill

The outdoor colony of leafcutter ants is worth a trip all by itself. Observing these workers tirelessly transporting bits of leaves or flowers of every color that weigh several times more than they do is a fascinating experience. But this live collection requires daily care. Beginning at seven in the morning, our technicians start their routine: changing fruit, water, vaporizing the aquarium to achieve the appropriate humidity, changing the flowers and leaves for the Atta ants– and much more. The amount of preparation and maintenance work that you don’t see is enormous.

A couple of things we’re proud of

Among our finest breeding successes we should mention a wonderful diversity of beetles, de stick insects and tropical leaf insects, including a beautiful little species from Peru, very rare, and today protected. The aquarium, meanwhile, contains little aquatic insects (water beetles) hailing from the Arizona desert.

To learn more about the essential role of insects and arthropods
Subscribe to the Our Neighbours the Insects newsletter

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