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Home sweet home

1-To be or not to be ... an insect
2-Insects and popular wisdom
3-Close-up on insects
4-Home sweet home

Protecting insects
To each its own
Surviving winter

5-Multi-talented actors

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All sorts of habitats

Over millions of years, insects have colonized almost every kind of environment, from ponds to rivers, forests and prairies. Only the ocean deeps remain inaccessible to these tiny creatures. Different species of insects have very different needs, as shown by the size and characteristics of their habitats. Some may find everything they need in a meadow, while others call an orchard or a lake home.


Since most insects are less than 15 mm long, it comes as no surprise that many species can live in fairly small habitats—a rotting tree stump, a hollow in a rock, a puddle, or an animal carcass, for instance. These "microhabitats" actually offer the special climatic and physical conditions some species need to survive.

Protecting insects

Some insect species, along with some plants and mammals, are at risk of disappearing today, as their habitats are being damaged or destroyed. Can we help make their surroundings more inviting? We certainly can! Here are some things you and your friends can do to protect insect populations in their natural environment or to create a suitable environment for them in your backyard.

  • Organize a "clean-up expedition" and pick up garbage in wooded areas or along the banks of streams and creeks near your home.
  • When you go for a nature hike, stick to the roads and paths, so as not to disturb insect habitats and microhabitats.
  • In your schoolyard, a corner of your garden or on a few square metres of your lawn, make a little flower garden, using nectar-bearing plants that will attract different species of bees, bumble bees and butterflies.


What about you? Can you think of any other ideas?




Every species of insect has its own specific habitat. Solve the following riddles to find the habitats of the white admiral, the frisky bumble bee, the six-spotted tiger beetle, the twelve-spotted lady beetle and the ebony jewelwing.


• Reading you loud and _ _ _ _ _

• Every insect has at least two w_ _ _ _.

Put them together to find one of the habitats of the white admiral (1 word).





• Another word for meadow: _ _ _ _ _

• A preposition.

• A bouquet of _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Put them together to find one of the habitats of the frisky bumble bee (3 words).





• Someone who watches over prisoners: _ _ _ _ _.

• The letter between M and O.

Put them together to find one of the habitats of the six-spotted tiger beetle (1 word).





• Carrots are a: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.

• A piece of fabric used to cover a rip.

Put them together to find one of the habitats of the twelve-spotted lady beetle (2 words).





• The first letter of a word that means not smooth

• The second, third and fourth letters of the number after four

• The first letter again!

Put them together to find one of the habitats of the ebony jewelwing (1 word).



  Click here for the solutions


To each its own
  • Before starting this activity, read the information in this leaflet and on the five posters for the insect candidates.
  • Photocopy and distribute the activity sheet.
  • Suggest that one group draw and mime different insect habitats for the others to guess (Pictionary type game).


In winter, the lush habitat in which insects feed and reproduce becomes a glacial, even hostile, landscape. Monarchs fly south. Other species fight the cold by producing glycerol, a sort of insect antifreeze. They spend the winter in different forms—as eggs, larvae, nymphs or adults, generally in a state of dormancy known as "diapause".


  • Ask participants a few questions about how they think insects survive winter. Where do they hide? How do they know to wake up in the spring?
  • Photocopy and hand out the activity sheet and do the quiz.
  • Continue the discussion, if you wish.



  • After asking participants about how insects spend the winter, give them a short dictation test. Use the text on the following page, adding the words formed by the mixed-up letters.




How do insects make it through the winter? You’ll find lots of information in the following text. But some of the words are a bit mixed up. Can you put the letters back in the right order?


Many insects die even before winter begins: the praying simtan _________, for instance. But the female makes sure that she lays her eggs in a bed of moss, to keep them warm, so that the sphymn _________ will hatch in the spring.


Other insects flee the cold. Rochamn _________ butterflies travel up to 3,000 kilometres, all the way to Mexico. In the spring, they reproduce. The following summer, their grinspoff _________ return to Québec.


Some species remain active in winter. Beoheyne _________ drones surround their queen and move their bodies and wings constantly to keep the temperature in the vehi _________ at about 25°C. Some species of crane flies walk around on the snow and educepror _________ in winter.


But most insects spend the cold months sleeping. During this stage, called piadause _________, insects halt their development until the spring. And where do they hide, you might ask? Eggs, for instance those of most quotsoimes _________, remain beneath the snow. Some mosquito larva spend the winter in the frozen water in the hollows of leaves of cravonirous _________ plants, and the nymphs of many species of falymies _________ winter at the bottom of ponds, lakes and rivers. Sylraschise _________ spend the cold months warm and dry in a cocoon tucked away in a tree branch. Many adult insects go to sleep beneath the bark of trees, under rocks or dead leaves. Some species of ylad sleeteb _________ cluster together at the foot of a tree.


  Click here for the solutions



To each its own

White admiral: clearing

Frisky bumble bee: field of flowers

Six-spotted tiger beetle: garden

Twelve-spotted lady beetle: vegetable patch

Ebony jewelwing: river

Surviving winter















lady beetles

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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