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Insects of Newfoundland and Labrador


Insects established on the Island of Newfoundland represent mainly post-glacial immigration from the mainland, with numerous European introductions. With Labrador representing the easternmost limits of the arctic, sub-arctic and mainland boreal regions of North America, insect assemblages in this part of the province can be unique. Currently, more than 4,700 terrestrial insects, representing 21 orders, have been recorded in Newfoundland and Labrador

Is it an insect or a spider?

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Insects are the most diverse group of animals in the world and are further identified as having:

  • three body segments

  • three pairs of legs

  • antennae



Unique features of spiders include:

  • two body segments

  • no antennae

  • mouthparts are modified into fangs

  • spinnerets which allow them to build their webs


Nearly 300 species of butterflies inhabit Canada, and in Newfoundland and Labrador  55 species have been recorded.

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Overwintering Butterflies: Family Nymphalidae 

This family of butterflies actually spends the winter in Newfoundland hibernating in rock and tree crevices. These butterflies have a longer life span and can live 10 months or more. We can encourage this natural behavior by creating Butterfly Shelters . These shelters can be constructed by stacking logs in piles in a backyard habitat. Landscape fabric can be used in between the layers of logs to provide even more dark, dry, and secluded cavities for butterflies to hibernate.

Some Hibernating Butterflies in NL include:

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Comptons Tortoiseshell

Eastern Comma

Question Mark

Milbert's Tortiseshell

Mourning Cloak

TIPS for Creating a Butterfly Haven

  • Choose a sunny spot that is sheltered from prevailing winds

  • Put a light colored rock in your garden where the sun first appears to create a 'sunning' spot

  • Plant a diversity of blooms to attract the greatest variety of butterflies

  • Small space? no problem try filling planters with nectar-rich flowers

  • Select native flowers abundant in nectar

  • Include a mixture of early and late bloomers

  • Remember to provide a source of water for butterflies such as a shallow dish or bird bath

  • Butterflies prefer plants with large petals that provide a perch

  • They are attracted to red, orange, and yellow flowers

  • Remember butterflies start out as caterpillars, and most caterpillars are leaf eaters, so don't worry about a few damaged leaves


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Insects fulfill many roles, and often directly or indirectly affect humans. As pollinators, they are irreplaceable for the continued viability of numerous plant species, but insects can also be vectors of disease and significant consumers of plants, some of which are important resources for people. Other insects play essential roles in nutrient cycling, biological control, and are an important food source for other animals.

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