Happy Canada Day!

To celebrate, Crystal & I thought we would highlight Canada’s official insect, because a country with the rich entomological heritage that Canada has must have one. As we began researching further however, we were dismayed to discover that Canada doesn’t have an official insect!

White Admiral Butterfly - Tom Murray

White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis) – photo by Tom Murray and used under Creative Commons License

In fact, the only province or territory to adopt an official insect is Quebec. After a public vote held by the Montreal Insectarium in 1998, the White Admiral butterfly (Limenitis arthemis) was selected as the provincial insect, which was later ratified by the National Assembly of Quebec.

It seems only two nations have insects as officially recognized symbols: Mexico with the grasshopper as its National Arthropod (perhaps in honour of Chapulines, grasshoppers in the genus Sphenarium which are a common food item in several regions) and Sri Lanka, which designated a National Butterfly (an endemic swallowtail butterfly, Troides darsius).

As the Entomological Society of Canada & the Entomological Society of Ontario approach their joint 150th anniversary, perhaps it’s time we start thinking about choosing an official insect for Canada.

Entomological Society of Canada LogoThe obvious choice would be the insect adorning the ESC logo, an ice-crawler in the family Grylloblattidae. Canadian entomologists Edmund Murton Walker (who would later found the Royal Ontario Museum’s invertebrate collection) and T.B. Kurata first discovered Grylloblatta campodeiformis in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and placed it in its own, new order, the Grylloblattaria (although it is now treated as a suborder within the Notoptera).

Other choices might include any of the insects featured on the logos of the provincial/regional entomological societies in Canada:

Entomological Society of British Columbia – Boreus elegans a winter scorpionfly.

Entomological Society of Alberta – a moth (if anyone knows the species, let us know).

Entomological Society of Saskatchewan – a short-horned grasshopper (if anyone knows the species, let us know).

Entomological Society of ManitobaBig Sand Tiger Beetle (Cicindela formosa).

Entomological Society of OntarioMonarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus).

Société d’entomologie du Québec – White Admiral Butterfly (Limenitis arthemis)(?).

Acadian Entomological SocietyApple Maggot Fly (Rhagoletis pomonella).

We don’t want to limit your imagination to just these insects of course! Perhaps you think our national insect should tie in with other national symbols, like the beaver. In that case, the Beaver Parasite Beetle (Platypsyllus castoris) might make an excellent candidate. An insect unique to the Canadian territories might also be a good idea as they aren’t represented among regional societies.

Platypsyllus castoris - Joyce Gross

Platypsyllus castoris – photo by Joyce Gross, used with permission

What do you think, should Canada have an official insect? If you have other suggestions for an insect that you believe represents our fair nation, or would like to place your vote for any of those already mentioned, let us know in the comments. If we receive enough feedback, we can take your ideas and the project to the Entomological Society of Canada governing board and maybe one day have an insect officially recognized by the government of Canada!

25 replies
  1. gunnarmk
    gunnarmk says:

    For some reason I think the ideal insect would be one of the fancier Symphytans, maybe one of the Diprionids with branched antennae?
    After all, it conforms to the lumberjack stereotypy, is related to some Canadian research traditions and looks freakin’ awesome.

  2. Paul Manning (@Paulisporin)
    Paul Manning (@Paulisporin) says:

    I think it should be a insect specific to maple trees would be neat. Would fit in well with another of our national symbols. Rosy maple moths are easily recognized by many people in parks, and their own backyards. Maple callus borers are also pretty incredible, and such a delightful insect to draw.

  3. Laura Stevens
    Laura Stevens says:

    Surely it has to be dragonfly that eats the most mosquitoes. A northerner’s best friend.

  4. felixsperling
    felixsperling says:

    I immediately thought it has to be the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail when I read this post, and I’m delighted to see that Emily has beat me to it. So I’ll just enthusiastically second the motion.

  5. Nora B
    Nora B says:

    UNLIKE our maple icon which is NOT represented in all Provinces, I suggest a critter that is found all across Canada – the variable Darner, Aeshna interrupta. It’s big enough, bold enough and beautiful enough to be appreciated by all peoplem but not as cliche as say a butterfly or a lady beetle. Thoise bugs get enough PR! . And it eats those other pesky Canadian bugs we all know too well.

  6. Dave
    Dave says:

    Over at AB Bugs and Altaleps the suggestions for a Canadian National Insect seem to be divided between the masochists like Adrian who promote blackflies or mosquitoes and the progressives like Laura and Nora who promote the Darner. I appear to be the only cynic and Felix the only opposite of whatever a cynic is.

    Re the (definitely) moth on the ESAB logo, Greg Pohl thinks: “logo is intended to repr. the cutworm moth spp that first brought Strickland to the west- it was outbreaking in the 1920s. the pale western cutworm if memory serves, but check Regert’s book”

    Anyone have Regert’s book?

  7. Chris MacQ
    Chris MacQ says:

    I just checked Riegert’s book (From Aresenic to DDT). There is no mention of the ESA, but I can confirm that Strick was brought out to work on pale western cutworm.

  8. mrbugman
    mrbugman says:

    A quick look through Riegert’s Aresenic to DDt seems to confirm Greg’s guess. Strick was brought out to AB to work on pale Western cutworm.

  9. Tom Lowery
    Tom Lowery says:

    A species of dragonfly would be an excellent choice. In addition to their inclusion in many Asian mythologies, they were symbolic to most North American tribes, variously representing such things as transformation or carriers of messages from the dead. They are also a link between water (clean) and air and can represent change. Having an easily recognizable species of insect that occurs across Canada would appeal to the public.

  10. Morgan Jackson
    Morgan Jackson says:

    Thanks for the awesome suggestions so far everyone! It’s great to see so much enthusiasm for finding Canada an official insect. Since ideas and votes are coming in on a regular basis, we’ll wait a couple of weeks, compile some of the most suggested species and see if we can present them to the ESC Governing Board to make this an official search!

    Be sure to stay tuned to ESC Blog as this initiative develops, because I’m sure we’ll need all of your help down the road.

  11. Suzanne Kettley
    Suzanne Kettley says:

    How about the May fly. Doesn’t bite and is representative of our springtime season

  12. Don Davis
    Don Davis says:

    The Monarch would be a good suggestion. It has been seen in 9 Canadian provinces this year so far (awaiting British Columbia sightings). The new 3D IMAX documentary about Dr. Fred and Mrs. Norah Urquhart (and monarch migration and biology) entitled “Flight of the Butterflies” to be released in October.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] selected as the provincial insect, which was later ratified by the National Assembly of Quebec. An Insect for Canada | ESC-SEC Blog So far, it's the one and only province in Canada that has a provincial insect, hmmm. I wish others […]

  2. […] It’s a holiday today in Quebec – St. Jean Baptiste day – lots of fireworks and celebrations this past weekend! Did you know Quebec has a Provincial insect? By public vote… here’s the winner!  It’s time for the rest of Canada to get with the program. […]

  3. […] was plenty of talk about national insects this week. I brought up Canada’s distinct lack of a national insect over at ESC Blog, while Brian Cutting noted how lame many of the state insects are in the US. Meanwhile, across the […]

  4. […] ESC Blog is asking Canadians for ideas for a National insect. Most go for the big shiny bugs like […]

  5. […] An Insect for Canada – ESC Blog Posted by Morgan Jackson at 12:39 pm Tagged with: ESC, ESC Blog, Politics […]

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