Species At Risk

Insects at Risk

Many Ontario insects are endangered

Insects are the most common animals on earth, with millions of species worldwide. We usually think of them in their adult form - butterflies and dragonflies with colourful wings, or crawling beetles. But most insects in Ontario spend the majority of their lives as eggs, larvae or pupa, living in their adult form for only a few days or a few weeks.

Ontario is home to thousands of kinds of insects. They make up most of the biodiversity in Ontario, and without them many ecosystems could not funtion. However, eight are at risk of disappearing from the province, and three are no longer found here at all.

The most significant threats to insects in Ontario are loss and degradation of habitat. Insects that migrate also face threats in their over-wintering sites, including loss of habitat. The use of pesticides and herbicides also puts many insect populations at risk.

Check out the links below to learn more about Ontario's insects at risk, including how you can help protect them.


American Burying Beetle
American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)
American burying beetles are the largest carrion feeding insects in North America. These beetles have highly sensitive organs on their antennae that can detect the smell of decaying flesh three kilometres away.
Aweme Borer Moth
Aweme Borer Moth (Papaipema aweme)
An Aweme Borer was found on Manitoulin Island in 2005 – the first sighting of this species in almost 70 years!
Bogbean Buckmoth
Bogbean Buckmoth (Hemileuca sp.)
Unlike most buckmoths, which live in drier habitats, the Bogbean Buckmoth depends primarily on wetlands that support the bogbean, its preferred food source.
Eastern Persius Duskywing
Eastern Persius Duskywing (Erynnis persius persius)
Frosted Elfin
Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus)
The Frosted Elfin is a poor flier, which, along with its dependence on lupine, may explain why its populations are isolated and scattered.
Hine's Emerald
Hine's Emerald (Somatochlora hineana)
Hine’s Emerald lives for three to five years, spending most of that time underwater as larvae.
Hungerford’s Crawling Water Beetle
This beetle is likely a “glacial relict,” a species that survived from the ice age in an isolated habitat.
Karner Blue
Karner Blue (Castanea dentata)
The Karner Blue has a lifespan of about five days as an adult butterfly.
Laura’s Clubtail
Laura’s Clubtail (Stylurus laurae)
Laura’s Clubtail was first recorded in Ontario in 1999.
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
special concern
Caterpillars store a toxin in milkweed plants they eat, making them poisonous to bird predators as adults.
Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle
Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle (Cicindela patruela)
Females lay about 50 eggs during early summer, placing each egg in an individual hole in the ground.
Pygmy Snaketail
Pygmy Snaketail (Ophiogomphus howei)
Adult Pygmy Snaketails are rarely seen because they spend much of their time in the forest canopy.
Rapids Clubtail
Rapids Clubtail (Gomphus quadricolor)
Larvae bury themselves under a fine layer of sediment and “breathe” through the exposed tips of their abdomens.
Rusty-patched Bumble Bee
Rusty-patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis)
The Rusty-patched Bumble Bee gets nectar from flowers by biting a hole in the outside of it and sucking up the nectar with its tongue. This behaviour, called “nectar-robbing”, leaves marks on the flower than can help researchers detect the bees’ presence in an area.
West Virginia White
West Virginia White (Pieris virginiensis)
special concern
This butterfly was officially listed as endangered by Ontario in 1977, but in 1990, after a review of its distribution and abundance, its status was changed to vulnerable (now “special concern”).