Montreal Insectarium

2018 November 3

When we visited the Montreal Botanical Gardens on June 25, 2018, we saw that it included an Insectarium[1]. So, of course, we had to go there, right?

Right. Here’s an aerial shot of the Insectarium that I grabbed from Google Maps. You may note that it is shaped like a stylized insect: the head and eyes are facing to the right, the reddish-brown part of the building is the body, and the white wings on either side are, well, the wings:


As it turns out, the Insectarium had a few live displays, but was mostly preserved specimens. A lot of preserved specimens. Like this wall of beetles:


And these displays of butterflies,




nocturnal insects,


and a couple of “stump stabber” ichneumon wasps in the act of laying their eggs on wood-boring grubs. I don’t know how they managed to preserve this display, but it is pretty remarkable.


The most interesting of their live displays was this active leafcutter ant colony


The ants would cut chunks of leaf from the flowers on one side of the display;


and carry them to their destination nest area;


by walking along the branch going from one enclosure to the other.


Sorry I didn’t get better pictures of the actual ants (my camera battery died at about this point[2]), but there was a continuous train of them, going one way empty, and the other way carrying a chunk of leaf.

There was considerably more[3], but unfortunately I couldn’t get pictures because there was no place to recharge my camera. Nevertheless, if you ever find yourself in Montreal, I highly recommend visiting the Botanical Gardens and Insectarium.

[1] This was kind of a “cold” trip, we didn’t really know what we were going to find in Montreal. We just headed into town with a hotel reservation and a map. Which meant that pretty much everything we found in Montreal was something of a surprise.

[2] I had gone a bit crazy taking pictures in the Botanical Garden before we had gotten to the Insectarium, and since I had been using the camera for about a week already since the last charge, and had neglected to recharge the battery the previous night, well, that was that.

[3] Like the tarantula room, and the enlarged models of leafhoppers, and numerous other posed displays along the same lines as the stump-stabbers, and the acrylic balls along the walkway with insects embedded in them that acted as both preservation and as magnifiers, and the inverse periscope into the swamp, and . . . . well, you get the idea.

2 Responses
  1. Lyle Laylin permalink
    November 21, 2018

    You may want to compare Montreal’s beetle wall with the one at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

  2. December 3, 2018

    I saw a leafcutter exhibit at the Smithsonian years and years ago. They’re so much more heroic in the insect books, toiling away like tiny farmers. In person, they’re just making a huge mess. The nest looked like my bedroom after wife kitteh had been gone for a few months. “Hmm. From the smell, I think there’s a body in here somewhere. Man, I hope she comes home soon.”

    I had always thought they ate the leaves. Nope, they ate the moldy slime that grew on the decaying leaves. Big difference. Not heroic at all.

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