Calling all Columbia Valley insect enthusiasts — researchers from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) are preparing a national status report on Giant Lacewing end this October.
Known in the scientific community as Polystoechotes punctatus, these insect populations are declining across the country and have become extinct in Ontario and Quebec, according to entomologist Vincent Bereczki who is working on the study for COSEWIC and a results, recently visited the Columbia Valley.
Often being confused for moths, the Giant Lacewing is mostly present in the Pacific Northwest and parts of western Canada and is known to inhabit open areas, damp roadsides, bogs, swamps, flooded areas and other freshwater habitats. It is typically about 35 to 75 millimeters in length, which make it easy to look like a moth, he said, while having a habitat that fits perfectly with the Columbia Valley wetlands.
“I think that the area for example of the Columbia River, you are still lucky because the barrier area around the steams is quite fresh and preserved,” he said. “I mean there are no intensive agriculture around so the human impact there is lower than in other parts of Canada.”
Bereczki and the rest of the researchers from COSEWIC are looking for people from the public to send pictures and their corresponding geographical locations to them so that they are able to compile and create a distribution map across the country that better details the habitats of these insects and produces more thorough information.
He said that they originally started this study in March of this year in hopes of learning morea bout the Giant Lacewing, which he said is considered a species at risk in Canada.
“We have little information about these and we must now get information for the area of the distribution of this insect and have a regular and systematic approach to better understand this species,” he said. “Generally for people, insects are highly unknown because they are small too and if we better educate the people we will better prevent the extinction of this species.”
As an entomologist living on the other side of the country, he said undertaking a study of this magnitude can often be quite challenging.
“We will say that we are a few experts for a big, big world,” he said. “We are always working in emergency to try to assess and conserve this species at risk. I will say for us it’s a big challenge to succeed on it.”
Those looking to contribute to the study through photographing a Giant Lacewing are encouraged to take the photo, record the location of where it was taken and email them to Bereczki at email@example.com.