logo insecte emblème

and popular wisdom

1-To be or not to be ... an insect
2-Insects and popular wisdom

As the old saying goes...
Expressions (associations)
Self-defence (tune)
True or false?

3-Close-up on insects
4-Home sweet home
5-Multi-talented actors

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Insect inspiration

Insects have inspired people since the dawn of time, with their fascinating behaviour and appearance. They have even crept into our day-to-day language and sayings.


Honey is sweet, but the bee stings.

Sometimes you have to suffer to enjoy something.


If you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas.

You have to accept the consequences of your actions.


You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

You are more likely to get what you want by convincing people than by threatening them.


If a bee stings you once, it’s the bee’s fault. If it stings you twice, it’s your fault.

Learn from experience.


And, from other cultures:


Celui qui est trop endormi doit prendre garde à la fourmi.

(Even ants are a danger for someone who is not paying attention.)

You are best to be on your guard at all times.


Le plus beau papillon n’est qu’une chenille habillée.

(The most beautiful butterfly is merely a well-dressed caterpillar.)

Don’t judge people by their appearances.



  • Read the proverb without giving the name of the insect, and then ask the participants to identify the insect. For example, "You catch more ____ with honey than with vinegar."


  • Read the proverb out loud, and then invite everyone to discuss its meaning.


  • Suggest that participants draw and mime different proverbs for the others to guess (Pictionary type game).


  • Organize a Reach for the Top type quiz with the information in this leaflet. You can also use details from the other leaflets.



Match each expression with right definition

Click here for the solutions


Insects use all kinds of tricks to protect themselves from predators and avoid becoming another animal’s lunch. Here are a few self-defence techniques, to the tune of "Itsy-bitsy Spider".


The spider in your garden can give a nasty bite

The snakehead on the cobra moth gives enemies a fright

The stinger of the honeybee makes predators take flight

And moths are dark and camouflaged, especially at night.

Some flies can fool their enemies -- they look like what they’re not

Because they copy wasps’ stripes, the flies will not get caught

A butterfly with owl’s eyes scares hungry birds away

And walkingsticks resemble twigs as motionless they stay.




 People of all cultures hold all kinds of beliefs about different insects. Are they all true? Are any of them true? It’s up to you to uncover the whole truth and nothing but the truth!


1. You can tell how much snow is going to fall over the winter by looking at how high up wasps build their nests.

True or false? ________________


2. Ripe fruit produces fruit flies.

True or false? ________________


3.If you see damselflies near a creek, you can be sure that the water is reasonably clean.

True or false? ________________


4. Most insects are harmful.

True or false? ________________


5. To find out how old a lady beetle is, count the number of spots on its elytra (hardened wings).

True or false? ________________ 

6. Earwigs are so called because they like to get into people’s ears.

True or false? ________________


7. Dragonflies fly so fast that they can fly into your eyes and blind you.

True or false? ________________


8. Insects in a house are a sign of uncleanliness.

True or false? ________________


9. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in cedar hedges.

True or false? ________________


10. If you see a wasp coming, the best thing to do is run.

True or false? ________________



Click here for the solutions


A whole hive-ful of expressions

1-C, 2-J, 3-G, 4-K, 5-D, 6-F, 7-H, 8-B, 9-A, 10-I, 11-L, 12-E.


True or false?

1. False.

This is a popular misconception that has no scientific basis. Some species of wasps make their nests in the ground, while others make them high up off the ground. Wasps don’t care how much snow there will be, for they are almost all dead before the first flake falls. The only survivors are the future queens, who spend the winter months hidden away somewhere else—under dead leaves or in a woodpile, for example.


2. False.

The flies buzzing around the fruit were there when you first brought it home, as eggs or larva. The eggs could also have been laid on the fruit by other flies that have entered your home.


3. True.

Damselflies spend much of their time around riverbanks, and are sensitive to environmental disturbances, including logging operations, deteriorating banks and toxic discharges. Such changes all affect these insects, who prefer watercourses that are in good health.


4. False.

Less than 1% of all insect species in the world are considered dangerous or harmful to human activities.


5. False.

Only adult lady beetles have spots that can sometimes be used to tell one species from another. Young lady beetles (larvae) are quite different in appearance and look more like tiny crocodiles.


6. False.

Earwigs don’t have any special affinity for ears, and their long pincers are used only to intimidate potential predators.


7. False.

Dragonflies are totally harmless. They may zip by close to you, but it’s only because they’re doing you a favour by chasing flies.


8. False.

Insects may enter your home because it is in their path, or because it offers the conditions they need to survive, i.e. food, warmth, moisture and shelter. A clean house can be just as attractive to insects as a dirty one.


9. False.

Mosquitoes reproduce in stagnant water. If you find any in a cedar hedge, it is only because they are resting there.


10. False.

You are better to allow the wasp to go about its business and avoid any abrupt movements that might frighten it into stinging you.



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ConceptInsectarium de Montréal French text: Marie Dufour Translations: Terry Knowles and Pamela Ireland
 Illustrations: Bruno Laporte Graphics: Studio multimédia, Ville de Montréal
This project has received financial support from the Action Environnement et Faune program
Our thanks to everyone who helped in producing this educational material
Web site by: Stéphan Giroux