Articles

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Heavy metal insects!

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PRAYING MANTIS Sterling silver, copper, 14K & 18K gold 18.5″l x 12″w x 9.5″h

 

We have featured the wonderful metalwork of Canadian artist Elizabeth Goluch before, in this awesome interview by Crystal Ernst. Now Ben Proudfoot of Breakwater Studios has produced this wonderful video featuring Elizabeth, her inspiration and work. If you are fascinated by insects aesthetically, or have a love for metalwork and sculpture, this is a great introduction to the artistic process!
[vimeo 125539638 w=560 h=315]

Lady Bug from Breakwater Studios Ltd. on Vimeo.

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BUMBLEBEE Sterling silver, 14K & 18K gold 7″l x 7″w x 4″h

 

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Snapshots from two Canadian Entomologists in Honduras

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Catherine Scott and I continue on our Honduran odyssey, finally making it out into the field to begin our work on Red-throated Caracaras. We are working in a medium-elevation pine forest, consisting of mainly Pinus oocarpa and a couple oak species. This makes the surroundings seem very much like the foothills of the Rockies, except the species composition is way off!

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In these pine forests, one of the main defoliating species are fungus-rearing leafcutter ants!

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On some of the flowering plants, mantids lie in wait of unwary pollinators.

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Catherine Scott and Isidro Zuniga, our main Honduran collaborator, check out the cryptic mantid.

Being weird gringos, and something of a novelty, we get great opportunities to chat with curious kids. Some of them are really enthusiastic about birds and insects, and some can be persuaded to show us where to find the cool bugs. 

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We will keep searching out these cool bugs, as our Honduras fieldwork continues. Please stay tuned for more updates from the field, when and where we can fit them in.

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Light, warmth and insects to beat the winter cold

By Sean McCann, ESC/SEC blog coordinator and PhD student at Simon Fraser University —— © 2011 S. McCann, all rights reserved It seems that a popular pastime for Canadian entomologists in winter is to reminisce about warmer times and abundant insects. Edmonton bug photographer Adrian Thysse just posted a video of his National Moth Week experience at Devonian Gardens in Edmonton over the summer, and it looks like an entomological wonderland compared to the insect famine that is the Canadian winter. That video reminded me of my own light trapping experiences in much warmer times, namely in the rainforest of French Guiana. I was not actually doing the trapping, but I had the good fortune to do some observation. Guelph’s own Alex Smith and Rodolphe Rougerie were using UV lamps and white sheets to do their sampling, but of course all kinds of amazing insects were coming to the sheets. If you have never experienced tropical light trapping, the video below provides a taste of the sheer biomass of insects coming to a single sheet. [flickr video=11200757316 secret=7ec05d78b3 w=560 h=315] Here is a small gallery of images of insects that caught my eye (bonus points if you can ID them in the comments!).

Human hangers-on were not the only beneficiaries of this insect bonanza. Under the sheet, toads gathered to feast, while bats swooped in from above. The next morning, the diurnal predators took over, with scores of birds waiting above to snatch the tasty morsels from the  air as they tried to fly back to their homes in the trees. Here a Black Nunbird (Monasa atra) shows up on a perch with a gift. [flickr video=11200587055 secret=bdf1a44633 w=560 h=315] This gift-giving was a bit of a theme, with a Black-bellied Cuckoo offering a large katydid to an associate. mag (10 of 19) For an entomologist who studies birds such as myself, the light traps were a wonderful thing to see. Waking up at dawn to see a concentrated slice of bird-insect interaction in the warmth of the tropical rainforest is something I will never forget. As the winter tightens its grip on Canada, its insects, and those who study them, I hope this post helps warm you up!

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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!

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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.

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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!