by Christine Hanrahan

The end of summer signals also the end of insect life – or does it?

While summer is the peak season for insect activity, warmish days in late October can be surprisingly good for finding a variety of bugs, bees, beetles, flies and other creatures, including spiders. Over a period of two days I spent a few hours seeing what I might find at two locations, one being the Fletcher Wildlife Garden (20 October), the second (22 October) a much larger site near the Ottawa River in the east end of Ottawa. During this second foray, I was with two friends and three pairs of eyes made searching even better.

Not all insects nectar on flowers, but many do, so I always make a beeline, so to speak, for any clump of still blooming flowers. While at first glance it may seem there is nothing feeding, it is quite surprising what eventually reveals itself the more one looks. I also check under leaves, particularly if the temperature is cool, and I look amongst leaf litter, on rocks, the sides of buildings, wooden fence posts, and a variety of other places, all of which can, with patience, yield various insects and spiders at this time of year.

Buildings, such as the Interpretive Centre at FWG, are great places to look, particularly when the sun hits the walls. I found Brochymena stinkbugs, western conifer seed bugs, Asian ladybeetles, European paper wasps, greenbottle flies, scentless plant bugs, and a few other critters on the Interpretive Centre walls, all within a few minutes.

Many insects overwinter as adults, but many more overwinter as eggs, larvae or pupae. And for insects such as bumble bees, and a number of wasps, the first couple of hard frosts signal the end of life for all but the queens which will head off and spend the winter in a warm cavity or under leaf litter somewhere.

Below is a list of the insects and a few spiders, found during these two forays, in no particular order. Why not pull out your own identification guides to see what you can find out and about?

Hover flies:

Eristalis tenax

Toxomerus geminatus

Syrphus sp.

Allograpta sp.

+2 other hover fly species

Greenbottle flies (Lucilia sp.)

Tachinid flies (several species)

+several other fly species

Common eastern bumble bees (Bombus impatiens)

Sweat bees (Halictid spp.)

Eastern yellowjackets (Vespula maculifrons)

Aerial yellowjackets (Dolichovespula arenaria)

European paper wasps (Polistes dominula)

Ichneumonid wasps (2 species)

Spotted cucumber beetles (Diabrotica undecimpunctata)

Asian ladybeetles (Harmonia axyridis)

Variegated ladybeetle (Hippodamia variegata)

Western conifer seed bugs (Leptoglossus occidentalis)

Stinkbugs (Brochymena sp.)

Large green stinkbug (Chinavia hilaris)

Eastern box elder bug (Boisea trivittata)

Small milkweed bugs (Lygaeus kalmii)

Scentless plant bugs (Stictopleurus sp)

Oleander aphids (Aphis nerii)

Other unidentified (very tiny) bugs

Fall field crickets (Gryllus pennsylvanicus)

Green-striped grasshopper (Chortophaga viridifasciata)

Grasshoppers (several species)


Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Clouded sulphur (Colias philodice)

Orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

Cabbage white (Pieris rapae)


Nursery web spider (Dolomedes sp.)

Oblong running crab spider (Tibellus oblongus)


Sow bugs (Philoscia sp.)