The hidden date for this stamp can be found on the darner's wing.
Aristotle once said, "In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous." Perhaps nowhere is this more true than when it comes to our tiniest of creatures: the insect.
Don't let the insect's small stature fool you-these marvels of nature are incredibly useful. In fact, scientific research asserts that humans-and probably most life on earth-would perish without insects.
This little-known fact is what prompted Angelique Dawson, the Stamp Services archivist at Canada Post, to suggest Canada's beneficial insects as a worthy stamp theme.
"I looked to my own backyard-literally-for the inspiration behind this stamp issue. My garden is abundant in butterflies, ladybugs, bumblebees and lacewings because I strongly believe in a well-balanced ecosystem; one that uses beneficial insects instead of pesticides and insecticides," says Dawson.
After a great deal of research, the list of potential beneficial insects to feature was whittled down to a select five: the golden-eyed lacewing, cecropia moth, northern bumblebee, Canada darner, and convergent lady beetle, better known as the ladybug. The valuable services provided by insects include wildlife nutrition, pest control, pollination, and dung burial.
The golden-eyed lacewing (Chrysopa oculata), for instance, is an increasingly critical component of integrated pest management (IPM) programs used for field and horticultural crops. Since the larvae of the lacewings are voracious predators to a wide variety of soft-bodied insects, insect eggs and spiders, they are used as an alternative to pesticides.
The adult lacewing, as presented on the 3¢ stamp with a vivid mauve backdrop, is a golden-eyed, which is one of the most common species in Canada. Often found fluttering slowly around a front porch light, this insect, with its thin, bright-green body and sweeping, translucent wings, is a gentle friend to humans.
Another friend, the cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia), is prized for the fine yet durable silk that it spins. Although common throughout North America, these moths are rarely seen because they only fly at night and live but a short life of less than two weeks. With its striking colours and enormous wing span of 13 to 15 cm, the cecropia moth, depicted on the 25¢ stamp, is a sight to behold for those lucky enough to spot one.
As warm weather approaches, Canadians are accustomed to seeing bumblebees busily helping to pollinate their gardens. But less familiar is the northern bumblebee (Bombus polaris), as portrayed on the 5¢ stamp with a bountiful head of clover. This docile bumblebee that thrives in the Arctic survives in below-freezing temperatures by shivering its flight muscles to generate heat. A number of Arctic flowers are almost entirely reliant on this large species for pollination.
The common, but ever-popular convergent lady beetle (Hippodamia convergens) is a welcome sight across North America. Colloquially referred to as a "ladybug," its unique red-orange colour and black dotted wings, as shown on the 1¢ stamp, seem friendly to humans but are actually intended to warn predators away. This highly predaceous species is a gardener's delight, since the adult beetle and its larva can devour up to 60 aphids a day.
The Canada darner (Aeshna canadensis), or "dragonfly," has wormed its way into the hearts of Canadians with its insatiable appetite for mosquitoes. Although the species acquired its name because of the similarity of its body's shape to darning needles, perhaps its most distinguishing feature, as highlighted on the 10¢ stamp, is its large compound eyes, consisting of approximately 30,000 facets and taking up two-thirds of its head.
Each of these five beneficial insects is presented on its own pane of 50 stamps, as well as together on a souvenir sheet of five stamps and an uncut press sheet. In addition, a dynamic souvenir sheet OFDC buzzes with countless insects in motion.
"Each stamp is centred on the way it is lit, creating a sense of strong light on each insect as well as enabling each to stand out from the background," says designer and illustrator Keith Martin. Moreover, by darkening and fading the edges, Martin created a unified border so that when the stamps touch, they bleed together as one.
But neither Martin nor Danielle Trottier, Manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post, could resist a touch of playfulness in the overall design.
"The more I thought about bugs in general and these five in particular," says Martin, "the more I delighted in the seeming lack of a 'right side up'." To capture this particular insect feature, Martin positioned each bug in a different orientation on the stamp. Trottier adds that even the stamps themselves now have no "right side up" because the type runs on both sides.
"I also adore that the bugs refuse to 'fall in line,' and happy stragglers can be seen walking off the edges of the souvenir sheet," says Trottier. "But when it comes to fun, it really comes down to the design of the OFDC-it's like a party ... a veritable bugfest!"
Bugs just wanna have fun!
Bugs are universally appealing to kids, who love to collect the real-life version. With these cheerfully coloured stamps being so affordable, the possibilities for fun are endless.