Introduction

The bugs are back! Toronto Entomologists’ Association’s Student Symposium.

The bugs are back! Toronto Entomologists’ Association’s Student Symposium.

Soon they will be back. They are starting to wake up again. Pulling themselves out of sleepy, snow-covered cocoons where they spent the winter. Emerging from between crevices in ice-encrusted bark. Eating their way out of eggs and onto the leaves of budding deciduous trees. Defoliators, trunk feeders and parasitoids alike – now that spring has reared its sunny face once more, the insects are reviving.

Cicada.
Cicada.

The thing I like about insects is that they surreptitiously rule the world. They ravage our important natural resources. They pollinate a huge percentage of our food (not to mention providing us with coffee). They kill vast numbers of people annually, acting as the vectors of major diseases. But they also pollinate – and thus bring into existence – some of the most important pharmaceuticals in our medicinal repertoire. Insect pollination worldwide is said to have an annual value of more than $200 billion

Insects are nature’s garbagemen, eating the world’s detritus – the main reason we’re not knee-deep in it right now. They live everywhere on Earth- in cities, ice fieldsoceans, even in you. They’ve existed on land and ruled in the skies long before most other animal life forms- and will most likely be here long after we are gone. They can be beautifulgross, smallgargantuan. Insects do it all.

Lepidoptera under a Dissecting Microscope.
Lepidoptera under a Dissecting Microscope.

What better way to welcome them back than to visit the Toronto Entomologists’ Association‘s annual Student Symposium that took place last Saturday in Ramsay Wright? Here, a number of students from different Ontario universities (Brock, Carleton, Trent, Windsor, U of T and Guelph) talked about their own entomological research projects. Insects studied included mosquitoes, crickets, mayflies, blackflies, bumblebees and  some aquaticinsects. Another presenter discussed the hot (and controversial) subject of DNA barcoding.

European Elm Bark Beetle.
European Elm Bark Beetle.

In a nutshell, the TEA is a bug club. It’s an independent scientific organization that promotes knowledge about insects and works to bring together people – professional and amateur – who are interested in entomology.

The TEA meets monthly throughout the year in Victoria College (and occasionally in Ramsay Wright) and a guest speaker usually discusses their research. The TEA organizes insect counts, which involve catching, identifying and counting insects from different orders and families. The organization then publishes a newsletter (now if colour!) three times a year that’s full of information about counts, reviews of entomological literature and articles about insects.

The TEA also organizes field trips during the summer and fall. There have been trips to collect and identify moths and spiders, including one to High Park that invited family and friends to participate, and visits to a lepidoptera farm, where moths and butterflies are reared for the Montreal Insectarium.

Last but not least, the TEA organizes the annual student symposium. All the more reason to get involved, students can become TEA members free of charge upon completing a membership form.

Tussock Moth Larvae and Pupae.
Tussock Moth Larvae and Pupae.

The poster presentations, oral discussions and the general activities hosted by the TEA  provide a fun way to meet people in the field, learn about current entomological research, find out more about insects in general and (most important) get excited about the upcoming invertebrate season.

– Mary

 

5 comments on “The bugs are back! Toronto Entomologists’ Association’s Student Symposium.

  1. Dear Sirs,

    Where in Toronto can I find the pins and boxes( chiefly the pins )to mount medium to large sized insects??

    Regards,

    Tracy

    416.363.7081

  2. Hi Tracy!

    I’m afraid I’m not expert, but I would recommend starting at the Royal Ontario Museum. If you’re needs are specific, I think it might be worth it to order online.

    Hope that helps!

    Emily

  3. Hello: Can someone please contact me in regards to a small black widow spider that I have in my possession. The spider arrived in a bunch of grapes from California. I would like to surrender this spider to an agency that would facilitate its growth and maturity.

    Regards,
    Rose Hutchinson

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