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Insects and other arthropods

The ABCs of observing arthropods

This female leafcutter bee uses leaf fragments in the construction of her nest, made up of a series of thimble shaped capsules, laid end to end.
Photo: Insectarium de Montréal (André Payette)
Megachile frigida, Québec, Canada.
  • Megachile frigida, Québec, Canada.
  • Philaenus spumarius, Québec, Canada.
  • Tibicen canicularis,  Québec, Canada.

A: Learn to move slowly, without making sudden gestures.

Once you’ve found insects, the real detective work begins. What are they doing? Why are they moving around? Most insect behaviour is related to:

  • Diet: Eating or looking for food.
  • Movement: Flying, jumping, walking, swimming.
  • Communication: Showing colours, emitting odours, dancing (like bees do).
  • Reproduction: Looking for a partner, courtship, mating, laying eggs.
  • Defence: Hiding, fleeing or attaching an enemy, defending territory.

Sometimes, people capture live insects to observe them more closely. However, it is best to set them free in the same place where you caught them once your observation is complete.

B: Sharpen your gaze, and try to look for small clues that reveal the insect’s presence.

C: Stay alert and listen: Some insects reveal their presence with a sound or a rapid movement.

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