Terrestrial Arthropods of Newfoundland and Labrador​

The terrestrial arthropod fauna of the island 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Philip Henry Gosse collected and observed insects in NF and made hand paintings of nearly 250 species, included in his unpublished treatise Entomologia Terrae Novae.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.


There has been much work focused on surveying the fauna of NF & LB, especially aquatic and semi-aquatic groups (David Larson, Murray Colbo), Coleoptera (David Langor and David Larson), spiders (Roger Pickavance), and Lepidoptera (Ray Morris, Greg Pohl, Doug Macaulay), resulting in numerous and sundry publications. As well, there has been recent synthetic effort to develop comprehensive lists, databases and analyses to describe the terrestrial arthropod fauna of NF & LB. Eventually a complete faunal analysis is anticipated. 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.


Currently, most work on the fauna is focused on Coleoptera and Lepidoptera. Many new records of Coleoptera are in the process of being published (especially Staphylinidae) and there is ongoing work updating the list of Lepidoptera for the province. The Project could benefit from the involvement of other faunal specialists. If you are interested in participating please contact David Langor. The terrestrial arthropod collection of Memorial University of Newfoundland currently resides on long-term loan with David Langor. Please contact him to arrange for loans of material.