Qupiqruit — Small Critters, Bugs, Invertebrates

Although the survival of the Inuit depends on their having a deep understanding of the habits of the large animals they hunt, the characteristics of many small invertebrates are less important to them. Where western science recognizes many different families of invertebrates, the Inuit place most of them into one group, the qupiqruit, which roughly translates as "small critters". They are small beings which may not be alive, and become invisible in the cold part of the year. They freeze in the winter. Some fly, others swim, crawl or walk a little bit, but only very close to the earth. They do not walk very far. In general, the Inuit dislike, and often fear, the members of this group. Mosquitoes and blackflies are nuisances with which northerners are all too familiar; other qupiqruit frequently encountered include the various parasites that are found in caribou and other game. Inuit mythology associates qupiqruit with things that crawl into humans and suck their blood – behaviours that made them unpopular, to say the least.

The qupiqruit are divided roughly into three groups: land bugs, freshwater creatures, and things that live in the ocean. Larger marine invertebrates over 2–3 cm long – such as crabs or mussels – are not considered qupiqruit, but are included in other groups or are left unclassified. Nowadays, since the Inuit have learned about bacteria and other microorganisms, these have also been included in the category of the qupiqruit.

Nunaup qupiqrungit Land Critters
Tasikuluup qupiqrungit Freshwater Critters
Tariup qupiqrungit Marine Critters