Canada's Insect Fauna

Canada’s insect fauna contains many thousands of species and plays a wide variety of natural roles.

Composition of Canada’s Biota

Insects and their relatives belong to the most varied group of animals. Information compiled by the Biological Survey shows that in Canada alone:

  • There are about 55,000 species of insects.
  • There are about 11,000 species of mites and spiders.
  • About 4,000 species live in arctic regions beyond the limit of trees.
  • Only about half the species living in Canada have even been described.

Diverse roles of the fauna

Insects and their relatives are found in almost every conceivable habitat, and play many roles in Canadian ecosystems. These ecological roles have led to a pervasive economic importance, though this is not always obvious because many species are small and inconspicuous. Included in the group are species that eat living plants, species that feed on decaying materials, species that prey on other invertebrates, and parasites of other insects or of vertebrates. Many of the larger forms serve as the basic food of fish, birds, and mammals. Some species transmit various diseases to animals, including man, and to plants. Over half of Canada’s flowering plants are pollinated by insects.

Insects of Canada (Survey publication)

A general account of the nature of the Canadian insect fauna and of entomology in Canada was prepared by the Survey as a booklet entitled “Insects of Canada”, distributed at the International Congress of Entomology held in Vancouver in 1988. Link can be found here.