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An Insect for Canada

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!

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