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Insects and other arthropods

The evolution of insect populations

Photo: Insectarium de Montréal (Marjolaine Giroux)
Speyeria cybele, Québec, Canada.
  • Speyeria cybele, Québec, Canada.
  • Araneus diadematus, Québec, Canada.
  • Vespula germanica, Québec, Canada.

Are there more ants and mosquitoes this summer? Do there seem to be fewer butterflies than in past years? Are spiders more abundant? These questions usually come up at the beginning of the summer for ants and mosquitoes and the beginning of the fall for social wasps. Is there any way to tell?

It’s nearly impossible to say whether there are more or fewer insects – mosquitoes, ants, wasps or butterflies – from one year to another. Researchers would have to monitor populations from year to year in different regions. Some major pests, such as the spruce budworm, merit such attention because of their impact on our economy. This is not the case, however, for insects considered to be harmless (other than their bites, stings or annoying behaviour) that do not cause damage to vegetable crops or the forest industry.

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