Fisheries and Land Resources

Insects & Spiders

Insects and spiders belong to a group of animals called arthropods, which are characterized by:

  • an external skeleton (exoskeleton),
  • a segmented body
  • jointed appendages

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

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.

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

Spiders, while a large and diverse group, are more narrowly focused in their feeding habits than insects, being almost exclusively predators.

Unique features of spiders include:

  • They possess only two body segments
  • They do not have antennae
  • Mouthparts are modified into fangs
  • They have spinnerets

Spiders have limited muscle development compared to insects and rely on hydraulic pressure instead to extend and retract limbs.

Common groups encountered in Newfoundland and Labrador include:

  • orb weavers
  • wolf spiders
  • jumping spiders.

Just over 360 spiders have been recorded in the province to date.

The list of species in Newfoundland and Labrador is far from complete. As new areas of the province are surveyed new species for the province are being discovered.

Skippers and Butterflies

One of the first signs of spring in Newfoundland and Labrador is the appearance of over-wintering butterflies. Our province is home to 55 of the country's 293 butterfly species.

  • Compton's Tortoiseshells and Mourning Cloaks can be seen as early as April in parts of the Province.
  • As summer progresses into fall, 41 different butterfly species may be spotted in Newfoundland, and 44 species in Labrador.

Butterflies are very visible and have been extensively surveyed across insular Newfoundland; we know more about butterflies than we do other invertebrate group, yet the status of 43% of native species in Labrador and 15% in Newfoundland is assessed as Undetermined.

This lack of information has led the Wildlife Division to establish a volunteer monitoring program to further track and assess these species. If you are interested in volunteering, please visit Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring.

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Highlights from the 2000 Butterflies General Status Assessments

  • 8% of native species from Newfoundland and 5% in Labrador are Sensitive; 30 of 39 native species in Newfoundland are Secure. Only 22 of 42 species in Labrador are Secure;
  • 18 of 42 native species in Labrador are assessed with the status Undetermined;
  • There has been one Accidental recorded in Labrador. In 2002, a Checkered White was collected just outside Labrador City/ Wabush, well over 1,000 km away from the closest known population of the species.

2000 General Status of Newfoundland and Labrador's Skippers and Butterflies

Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Rhopalocera-Skippers and Butterflies

Family Common Name Scientific Name Newfoundland Labrador Provincal
Arctic Skipper Carterocephalus palaemon Secure Secure Secure
Common Branded/ Labrador Skipper Hesperia comma Secure Secure Secure
European Skipper Thymelicus lineola Exotic Exotic
Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus centaureae Secure Secure
Peck's Skipper Polites peckius Secure Undetermined Secure
Blues and Coppers
Arctic Blue Agriades glandon Secure Secure Secure
Bog Copper Lycaena epixanthe Secure Secure
Brown Elfin Callophrys augustinus Secure Undetermined Secure
Dorcas Copper Lycaena dorcas Secure Secure Secure
Greenish Blue Plebejus saepiolus Undetermined Undetermined
Northern Blue Lycaeides idas Secure Secure Secure
Silvery Blue Glaucopsyche lygdamus Secure Undetermined Secure
Spring Azure Celastrina ladon Secure Secure Secure
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Papilio canadensis Secure Secure
Short-tailed Swallowtail Papilio brevicauda Secure Undetermined Secure
Brushedfoot Butterflies
American Lady Vanessa virginiensis Sensitive Undetermined Sensitive
Atlantis Fritillary Speyeria atlantis Secure Undetermined Secure
Bog Fritillary Boloria eunomia Undetermined Secure Secure
Common Ringlet Coenonympha tullia Secure Undetermined Secure
Compton Tortoiseshell Nymphalis vaualbum Secure Secure
Eastern Comma Polygonia comma Undetermined Undetermined
Freija Fritillary Boloria freija Undetermined Secure Secure
Frigga Fritillary Boloria frigga Secure Secure
Gray Comma Polygonia progne Secure Secure
Green Comma Polygonia faunus Secure Undetermined Secure
Hoary Comma Polygonia gracilis Undetermined Undetermined
Jutta Arctic Oeneis jutta Sensitive Sensitive Sensitive
Meadow Fritillary Boloria bellona Secure Secure
Melissa Arctic Oeneis melissa Sensitive Sensitive
Milbert's Tortiseshell Nymphalis milbereti Secure Undetermined Secure
Monarch Danaus plexippus Sensitive Sensitive
Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa Secure Secure Secure
Northern Crescent Phyciodes cocyta Secure Undetermined Secure
Painted Lady Vanessa cardui Secure Secure Secure
Polaris Fritillary Boloria polaris Secure Secure
Polixenes Arctic Oeneis polixenes Undetermined Secure Secure
Question Mark Polygonia interrogationis Undetermined Undetermined
Family Common Name Scientific Name Newfoundland Labrador Provincal
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta Secure Undetermined Secure
Ross's Alpine Erebia rossii Undetermined Undetermined
Satyr Comma Polygonia satyrus Undetermined Undetermined
Silver-bordered Fritillary Boloria selene Secure Secure Secure
Taiga Alpine Erebia mancinus Secure Secure
White Admiral Limenitis arthemis Secure Undetermined Secure
White Veined Arctic Oeneis bore Accidental Accidental
Clouded Sulphur Colias philodice Secure Secure
Hecla Sulphur Colias hecla Undetermined Undetermined
Pieridae Labrador Sulphur Colias nastes Secure Secure
Sulphurs and Whites Mustard White Pieris oleracea Secure Secure Secure
Orange Sulphur Colias eurytheme Secure Secure
Palaeno Sulphur Colias palaeno Undetermined Undetermined
Pelidne Sulphur Colias pelidne Secure Secure Secure
Pink-edged Sulphur Colias interior Secure Undetermined Secure

2000 Summary of General Status Ranks for Newfoundland and Labrador Butterflies and Skippers

Rank Newfoundland Labrador Provincal
Extinct/Extirpated 0 0 0
At Risk 0 0 0
May be at Risk 0 0 0
Sensitive 3 2 4
Secure 30 22 40
Undetermined 6 18 8
Not Assessed 0 0 0
Exotic 2 1 2
Accidental 0 1 1
Grand Total 41 44 55

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Dragonflies and Damselflies

Entomologists and ecologists have been studying Odonata (taxonomic order of Dragonflies & Damselflies) in the province for the last 100 years, yet we still know very little about this group.

  • Dragonflies are the most elegant and graceful fliers of the insect world.
  • Several species in Newfoundland and Labrador are brightly colored: others are metallic greens and blues. The most amazing sight is the image of a River Jewelwing flying back and forth over a brook or stream on a sunny day.
  • The gracefulness and beauty of these species is highlighted in the common names of many species: Wandering Gliders, Azure Darner and River Jewelwing.
  • Odonates are some of the most proficient hunters in the insect world.
  • Dragonflies and damselflies rely on aquatic systems for their early development. These animals are susceptible to environmental changes that affect water flow, sediment and temperature.

We have limited information on the abundance and distribution of this group in the province. In order to protect these species, we need to ensure buffer zones are maintained surrounding water bodies, protect wetlands from development, and reduce pesticide and other pollutants flowing into our waterways.

If you would like to help the Wildlife Division collect more information on the province's Dragonflies & Damselflies, please visit Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring.

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Highlights from the 2000 Dragonflies & Damselflies

General Status Assessments

  • A total of 41 species were assessed;
  • 44% of Newfoundland species were Secure;
  • 55% of Newfoundland and 100% of Labrador Odonate species were assessed as being Undetermined;
  • This assessment highlights the need for more detailed field inventories to determine the abundance and distribution of Newfoundland and Labrador's Dragonflies.

Order: Odonata
Family: Anisoptera-Dragonflies

Family Common Name Scientific Name Newfoundland Labrador Provincal
Aeshnidae Canada darner Aeshna canadensis Undetermined Undetermined
Lake darner Aeshna eremita Secure Undetermined Secure
Variable darner Aeshna interrupta Secure Secure
Sedge darner Aeshna juncea Secure Undetermined Secure
Azure darner Aeshna septentrionalis Undetermined Undetermined Undetermined
Zigzag darner Aeshna sitchensis Secure Secure
Subarctic darner Aeshna subarctica Undetermined Undetermined Undetermined
Yellow spotted dragonfly/
shadow darner
Aeshna umbrosa Secure Secure
Corduliidae American emerald/
green eyed skimmer
Cordulia shurtleffi Secure Undetermined Secure
Ringed emerald Somatochlora albicincta Undetermined Undetermined Undetermined
Quebec emerald Somatochlora brevicincta Undetermined Undetermined
Lake emerald/
green eyed skimmer
Somatochlora cingulata Secure Undetermined Secure
Delicate emerald Somatochlora franklini Undetermined Undetermined Undetermined
Forcipate emerald/
green eyed skimmer
Somatochlora forcipata Undetermined Undetermined Undetermined
Kennedy's emerald Somatochlora kennedyi Undetermined Undetermined
Ocellated emerald Somatochlora minor Undetermined Undetermined Undetermined
Muskeg emerald/
green eyed skimmer
Somatochlora septentrionalis Undetermined Undetermined Undetermined
Brushed-tipped emerald/ green eyed skimmer Somatochlora walshii Secure Secure
Whitehouse's emerald Somatochlora whitehousei Undetermined Undetermined
Gomphidae Boreal snake tail/
club tail
Ophiogomphus colubrinus Undetermined Undetermined
Libellulidae Crimson-ringed whiteface/
common skimmer
Leucorrhinia glacialis Undetermined Undetermined Undetermined
Hudsonian whiteface/
common skimmer
Leucorrhinia hudsonica Secure Undetermined Secure
Red-waisted whiteface/
common skimmer
Leucorrhinia proxima Undetermined Undetermined Undetermined
Four spotted skimmer Libellula quadrimaculata Secure Undetermined Secure
Wandering glider Pantala flavescens Vagrant Vagrant
Saffron-winged meadowhawk Sympetrum costiferum Undetermined Undetermined
Black meadowhawk /common skimmer Sympetrum danae Secure Undetermined Secure
Cherry-faced meadowhawk/
common skimmer
Sympetrum internum Undetermined Undetermined

2000 General Status of Newfoundland and Labrador's Damselflies

Order: Odonata
Family: Zygoptera-Damselflies

Family Common Name Scientific Name Newfoundland Labrador Provincal
Calopterygidae River jewelwing/
apically spotted damselfly
Calopteryx aequabilis Undetermined Undetermined
Coenagrionidae Subarctic bluet Coenagrion interrogatum Undetermined Undetermined Undetermined
Taiga bluet/ narrow winged damselfly Coenagrion resolutum Secure Undetermined Secure
Boreal bluet/
narrow winged damselfly
Enallagma boreale Secure Undetermined Secure
Northern bluet Enallagma civile Undetermined Undetermined
Familiar bluet Enallagma cyathigerum Secure Undetermined Secure
Marsh bluet Enallagma ebrium Secure Secure
Fragile forktail Ischnura posita Undetermined Undetermined
Eastern forktail/
common forktail
Ischnura verticalis Secure Secure
Sedge sprite/
narrow winged damselfly
Nehalennia irene Undetermined Undetermined
Lestidae Spotted spreadwing Lestes congener Undetermined Undetermined Undetermined
Common spreadwing Lestes disjunctus Secure Undetermined Secure
Lyre-tipped spreadwing Lestes unguiculatus Undetermined Undetermined

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Tiger Beetles

Tiger Beetles are some of the most interesting beetles in Newfoundland and Labrador. Cicindela hirticollis, for example, has a brownish-green dorsal surface with faint yellow markings on the elytra (upper wings), but once you turn the species over, the ventral surface is a kaleidoscope of iridescent greens and blues.

Seven Tiger Beetle species are present in Newfoundland and Labrador.

  • Tiger Beetles occur in a variety of environments throughout the province, but most live in areas with loose sandy soils.
  • Like dragonflies and damselflies, Tiger Beetles are voracious hunters. On a sunny day, you can watch these “tigers” of the insect world attack and take down flies and other insects almost twice their size.
  • Insect collectors have fun trying to collect these critters: with their large eyes, they can see you coming from all sides.

Highlights from the Tiger Beetle 2005 General Status Assessments

  • One species May Be at Risk in Labrador, the other 4 species in Labrador are Undetermined;
  • In Newfoundland there are 3 species that are Secure, one species is Sensitive and 2 species are Undetermined.

Order: Coleoptera-Beetles

Family Common Name Scientific Name Newfoundland Labrador Provincal
Blowout Tiger Beetle Cicindela limbata May be at Risk May Be At Risk
Hairy-necked Tiger Beetle Cicindela hirticollis Sensitive Sensitive
Cicindelidae Twelve-spotted Tiger Beetle Cicindela duidecimguttata Secure Undetermined Secure
Long-lipped Tiger Beetle Cicindela longilabris Secure Undetermined Secure
Common Shore Tiger Beetle Cicindela repanda Secure Undetermined Secure
Clay Bank Tiger Beetle Cicindela limbalis Undetermined Undetermined
Oblique-lined Tiger Beetle Cicindela trabquebarica Undetermined Undetermined

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2005 Summary of the General Status Ranks for Tiger Beetles

Rank Newfoundland Labrador Provincal
Extinct/Extirpated 0 0 0
At Risk 0 0 0
May be at Risk 0 1 1
Sensitive 1 0 1
Secure 3 3 3
Undetermined 2 0 2
Not Assessed 0 0 0
Exotic 0 0 0
Accidental 0 0 0
Grand Total 6 4 7

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