Insects and spiders

Insects and spiders in the Northwest Territories

Insects and spiders are an important part of the Northwest Territories (NWT) biodiversity and play important roles in our ecosystems. At least 9,000 species of insects are believed to occur in the NWT and about 268 species of spiders are known here. It is suspected more species of insects are moving north. The limited knowledge of these species in the NWT hurts our ability to know how they may change our ecosystems.


There are 110 species of bees in the NWT. The most widely recognizable species is the bumble bee, which has a furry body to help survive our cold climates. Another species is the honey bee. These bees, imported by a few honey producers, require constant attention to survive in our northern climate. Many native bees do not live in colonies. Mining bees make their homes underground. Others cut leaves to make a cigar-like nest in soil, tree snags or plant stems. See the Field Guide to Bumble Bees of the Northwest Territories  and the Photographic Keys and Atlas for Bees of the NWT for more information.


Butterflies are a common sight in many places around the NWT every summer. There are 92 species of butterflies known to occur in the NWT. For more information on butterflies in the NWT, see the Butterflies of the Northwest Territories booklet.


Dragonflies are a common sight in the Northwest Territories during the summer. See information on the status ranking and preliminary atlas of dragonflies found in the NWT.


There are 22 species of grasshoppers and three grasshopper relatives found in the NWT. Grasshoppers are important in the North because they have a big impact on plant communities and are a major source of food for other insects, mammals and birds. They are also useful in determining the health of our ecosystems. For more information on grasshoppers, see Grasshoppers and Related Insects of the Northwest Territories and Adjacent Regions.

Lady Beetles

Ladybirds are not birds and ladybugs are not bugs.  Lady beetles are members of the beetle family in the insect Class. They are best know for their colourful round shapes and the ability to be the best friend of any gardener with an aphid problem. Of the 1,130 species of beetles known to be present in the NWT, there are 33 species of lady beetles.

Most species of adult lady beetle spend the winter under rocks, debris or in buildings, sometimes in groups or even large aggregations. During these cold months, they do not eat and are in hibernation mode. In spring, the adult ends its dormancy and can be seen warming itself in sunny spots. If food is not abundant, the lady beetle can again enter dormancy for a short period. With warmth and food, the adult feeds on soft-bodied insects and it mates. Many species live one year; some can live up to three years. The longevity of our northern-most species is unknown.  For more information on lady beetles, visit A Field Guide to Lady Beetles of the Northwest Territories.

Let the kids have fun with this colouring book : Lady Beetle Colouring Book

Want to see a video about the lady beetle? Click here to see it.

Tiger beetles

Six species of tiger beetles are found in the Northwest Territories. See Tiger Beetles of the NWT for more information.


There are 268 species of spiders in the Northwest Territories. They are found on land and in the water. Spiders are another important indicator of the health of our ecosystems.