Terrestrial Arthropods of Newfoundland and Labrador


The terrestrial arthropod fauna of Newfoundland (NF) is interesting because it reflects mainly postglacial immigration from the mainland with 'enrichment' by numerous European introductions. In fact, NF is the most 'Europeanized' part of North America in terms of the proportion of its fauna represented by Palaearctic introductions. The fauna of Labrador (LB) is likewise of great interest, as it represents the easternmost limits of the arctic, sub-arctic and mainland boreal regions of North America. Interest in the arthropod fauna of NF & LB has been evident since 1766 when Joseph Banks made, over a 6-month period, the first extensive and documented natural history collections from the area, including some arthropods. From 1832-35, Philip Henry Gosse collected and observed insects in NF and made hand paintings of nearly 250 species, included in his unpublished treatise Entomologia Terrae Novae. Over the last 75 years, knowledge of the terrestrial arthropods of NF & LB has benefited from formal surveys (e.g. from the Northern Insect Survey, Forest Insect and Disease Survey, Fenno-Scandinavian expeditions of 1949 and 1951, surveys by the British Schools Exploring Society), and collecting trips by numerous specialists. Unfortunately, few of the results of these efforts have been reported and the existing published records of the NF & LB fauna are widely scattered through the entomological literature.

Since its inception, the Biological Survey of Canada (BSC) has been interested in the terrestrial arthropod fauna of this province, especially that of NF, and recognized that a comprehensive survey, based on new collecting and study of existing collections and literature, was warranted. The interests of the BSC were boosted in 1977 upon the arrival of David J. Larson at the Memorial University of NF, and since then, faunistic activity on NF & LB arthropods was sustained by Larson, students and colleagues. This activity has been embraced by the BSC as one of its projects since 1977.

Until 1998, most effort focused on surveying the fauna of NF & LB, especially aquatic and semi-aquatic groups, resulting in numerous and sundry publications. Since 1998, a larger synthetic effort was undertaken to develop comprehensive lists, databases and analyses to describe the terrestrial arthropod fauna of NF & LB and, where feasible, to produce illustrated keys to all known species. It is expected that over the next 5-8 years a series of 5-6 monographs will be published on the provincial fauna, including keys, distribution, biological notes, illustrations and references. Eventually a complete faunal analysis will be completed. Other activities include an overview of entomological work in NF & LB, a bibliography of the entomological literature of the province and a database of species, collection localities and habitus photographs.

The number of participants in the Project has been few to date and include David Larson (Project Leader, all insect Orders); David Langor, Barry Hicks and Jan Klimasewski (Coleoptera); Geoff Scudder (Heteroptera); and Roger Pickavance (spiders). The current database of NF & LB insects includes over 4700 species, based on literature records and museum specimens. Preliminary keys have been constructed for: Archaeognatha, Thysanura, Ephemeroptera, Odonata, Orthoptera sensu lato, Dermaptera, Plecoptera, Heteroptera, Megaloptera, Neuroptera, Coleoptera, Trichoptera, and Siphonaptera; species of some of the families of Lepidoptera, Diptera, and Hymenoptera. No keys have been prepared for Homoptera, Phthiraptera, Thysanoptera, and Psocoptera. A list of current keys is available here. The Project could benefit from the involvement of other faunal specialists insofar as to build on current checklists and to test and improve existing keys. If you are interested in participating please contact David Langor.

List of families of insects of Newfoundland and Labrador (including number of recorded species and status of species identification keys)

Page updated on Jun 28, 2014