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Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids, and Nematodes (CNC)

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Research centres and collections

Description of this image follows.

Two of the many thousands of trays of specimens in the Canadian National Collection of Insects

The Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes (CNC) of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is one of the five largest collections of its kind in the world. It contains over 17 million specimens. The Collection is housed at the Ottawa Research and Development Centre in the K.W. Neatby Building on the historic Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, Ontario.

The CNC is an active centre of scientific research and an invaluable national resource. It serves Canadian scientists who investigate problems in the fields of agriculture, biodiversity, genetics, biological control and other various forms of integrated pest management, and it is part of an international network for other researchers, educators and policy-makers. An increasingly important function of the Collection is to support science that will protect Canada's biodiversity, including reducing the billions of dollars lost annually to invasive species in agriculture, forestry, northern wilderness areas and other native habitats.


The Collection primarily is used to identify:

Additionally it is employed to:


The CNC also plays a crucial role in preserving Canada's native insect fauna. The work involves:

Insect systematics research, such as that carried out at the CNC, provides the foundation upon which many conservation decisions depend.

Major Divisions of the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes

The CNC is divided into 8 curatorial units to facilitate daily operations and management.

The following units and curators should be contacted regarding loans or any other inquiries:

Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes loan policy

Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes policy on destructive sampling of specimens

Interesting facts on the Collection


Over 70% of the specimens in the CNC originate from Canada.


Some of the species in the CNC are preserved fossils dating back 75 million years, from the age of the dinosaurs.

Future work:

35,000 named species of insects and related arthropods are known to occur in Canada.

Primary types:

More than 11,000 specimens at the CNC are primary types.

Distinctive Features:

Body features are one of the best ways to classify insects and other invertebrates and many of these can be seen with the naked eye.

Deoxyribonucleic acid:

When useful morphological features are lacking, or species are much too similar to reliably distinguish using traditional morphological methods, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) can be used to identify certain organisms.

Beneficial Insects:

Most insects are beneficial to humans.

Pest insects:

One of the best ways to fight insect pests is to let other insects do it for you.

Insect Names:

Names are the key element in the control of insect pests. An important part of the work done by CNC researchers is to identify pests that attack our crops and livestock.

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