- Education and Science
Some Important Species of Insects in Amazon Rainforest
Amazon rainforest is the home for more than 25 millions of different species of insects. Warm climate with heavy rainfalls result into abundant vegetation in most part of the region make favorable conditions for the growth and reproduction of millions of species of insects. It is estimated that one acre of Amazon rainforest contains more than 70,000 species of insects. Even a single tree of the forest may contain about 50 number of different species of insects. The 100 million year old rainforest is the reason for being most bio-diverse on the earth. It is highly impossible to count the actual number of different species of insects living in this region. In fact many hundreds of species have been driven from the region because of the deforestation.
Butterflies, Moths, Caterpillars, Beetles, Bees, Ants, Grasshoppers, Dragonflies, Spiders, Leaf mimicking insects and Walking Sticks are some of the commonly found insects of Amazon rainforest.
These are colorful and beautiful living creatures of the forest. They are belonging to the family 'papilionoidea'. About 7000 different species of butterflies which counts more than 30% of world total number of species are found here. Of which Blue Morpho, Owl Butterfly, are some of the important species of this beautiful insect. Before getting beautiful appearance it attains different stages of metamarphosis.
This is a species of neotropical butterfly that has brilliant blue wings. Female insects are not having brilliant colors as male ones have. It has wingspan of 6 inches across. Adult insects drink the juices of rotting fruit using their straw like proboscis.
This is so called as it has number of eye spots called ocelli on the underside of hand wings. When it is held head down it resembles the head of an owl. It is speculated that ocelli false eyes to scare smaller birds that attempt prey on the butterfly.
This is found in only in deeply shaded areas of primary rainforest, at altitude between 200 to 800m. The adult insects are almost existing singly. The butterflies are crepuscular in nature and they can be found some time in the middle of the day, but, more often at dusk. The wing beats of the insect are slow and deep. It normally rests with wings closed and at that time it will be very difficult to locate the insects.
Lepidoptera and Pyralidae are some of the families of this insect. These are the larval form of both Butterflies and Moths. They are having tubular and segmented body. Three pairs of true legs are in their three thoracic segments and prolegs are on the middle segment of abdomen. A single pair of proleg is also found on the last segment of abdomen. There are 10 abdominal segments. Their body is made of about 4000 number of muscles which is greater than the total number of human muscles(629). Before getting beautiful appearance of butterflies they mainly fed on leaves of various plants. And found in different colors and sizes. Some are in dark grey with yellow bands. We can also find Round black, Neon Green and Green spiny Caterpillars in this basin.
Orange and Yellow Beetle with black spots
About 700 species of beetles are found in these forest among millions of species of insects. Beetles are from Scarabalidae family. Let us study about some of the interesting species of beetles.
Orange and Yellow beetle with black spots
This is a small insect which lives mostly on leaves. It has small antennas on the head and becomes the prey for small birds of the forests.
This is the largest one of the region. It is from the Cerambycidae family (long horned beetle). These are found in the rainforest of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and north central Brazil. These are attracted by the light of mercury vapor lamp.
This is a small elliptical black colored beetle with 4 or more pale yellow colored bands on its body. It has two antennas and six legs and mainly fed on leaves of various plants.
There are more than 300 species of Rhino Beetle are existing here. Alike other insects these beetles also start their life as larva. The larva eat a lot of compost or rotting wood which is usually found where they were born. Rhino Beetle larva goes through 3 molts before changing into familiar adult form. It is thought as the strongest animal of the world as it can carry 850 times its own weight. Being large in size they can protect themselves from their predators. They never use their horns to fight off predators but they use the same to fight off other males and to attract female insects.
Bees are the flying insects from the family Apoidea. These are so dangerous that they have killed more than 1000 people. Abundant vegetation, trees and flowers existing in the region make it deal for the Bees. They are adapted feeding on nectar and pollen. These are having a long complex tongue (proboscis) that enables to obtain nectar from the flowers. They have antennas which have 13 segments in males and 12 in females. Among two pairs of the wings hind wings are smaller of the two. They grow up to 3mm long and dragonflies are the predators.
Leaf cutter Ants
These are the small insects belonging to the family Formicidae. Among many hundreds of species we can list some of them below.
It is speculated that the very first ants of its family in the world. This was recently discovered by a team from the university of Texas at Austin. Martialis Heureka means Ants from Mars. It is 2 to 3mm long, pale and has no eyes but having long mandibles which may be used to capture prey.
The name Army Ants applied for more than 200 ant species, in different sizes, due to their aggressive predatory foraging groups, known as 'raids' in which huge number of ants simultaneously cover certain area affecting the prey. Unlike other species they are not interested on having nests and a colony of army ants moves almost incessantly over the time exists.
Leaf cutter Ants
These are found everywhere in the region. These are primary cosumers of vegetation in the Amazon. They usually live in large colonies and each colony has more than 3 million number of ants. Leaf cutter ant's home often can be 30 foot across and 20 foot dee. The diet of leaf cutter ant is quite surprising as they only grow on leaves which they cut. The ants store their cut leaves in their nest where the fungus will grow. The large jaws of Leaf cutter ants are strong enough to break a human skin.
These insects are belonging to Acrididre family. Grasshoppers are amazing living beings which are able to leap more than 20 times the length of their body. Green Grasshoppers, Brown Grasshoppers and short horned Grasshoppers are some of the important grasshoppers among their thousands of species. Some of the species are in mixed colors to attract female. Usually they have two pairs of wings, one narrow and tough and other wide and flexible and long hind legs for jumping. The female grasshoppers are larger than male ones. Short horned Grasshoppers are mainly fed on plants and leaves and they can eat 16 times greater than their body weight. Birds, Mice, Snakes and Spiders are their predators.
Black, Blue, turquoise and Rasberry dragonflies are found in Amazon rainforests. Aeshnidae, Cordulegastridae, Gomphidae and Libellulidae are some of their families. The insects are having multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong , transparent wings and elongated body. Adult male can be differenciated from the position of their wings which lie perpendicular to their body when at rest. They eat mosquitoes, flies, bees and butterflies. Numerous streams, wetlands are making paradise for these insects as their larvae called nymphs are aquatic. Adult dragonflies are harmless insects to humans but nymphs deliver the painful and harmless bite.
About 3,600 different species of spiders are found here. Spiders are the total biodiversity of arthropods. They are different from other arthropods and terrestrial in nature and non segmented. Their body consists of two major regions called Cephalothorax and Abdomen. Notorious among the spiders is their venom which delivered from fangs and produced by venom glands. These insects are having an ability to produce silk like substance from glands located at the posterior end of the abdomen. This is fibrous protein called fibroin which is insoluble in water. The silk is used to construct snares to entangle and capture prey. Tarantulas, Jumping Spiders, Brown Spiders and Wolf Spiders are some of the important species of this insect.
These are very large and hairy spiders existing here and belonging to Therphosidae family. About 900 species of Tarantulas are living in Amazon rainforests. Tarantulas hunt their prey both in trees and ground. The biggest tarantulas are killing animals as large as birds, lizards and mice. It is thought that most of the species are harmless to mankind.
These are from the family Salticidae and more than 500 species of the Jumping Spiders are existing here. Mostly found in the Canopy part of the region. They are having eyes specially arranged in two or three rows. These are having unique character of emitting UVB rays which is used to attract female insects. They have complex eyes and acute eyesight. Female insects measures 4 to 5mm in length and males 3 to 5mm.
It is some what dangerous because of delivering venom and painful bite. It can grow up to 1.5 inches long and brown to grayish brown in color. It has black and white marks on the top of the abdomen and often has dark bands on its legs.
They are belonging to the family Lycosidae which are good hunters with good eye sight. They grow up to 8cm long and have 8 eyes arranged in three rows. The bottom row consists of four small eyes and middle row has large two eyes and the top one contains medium sized eyes. Wolf spiders are having unique character of carrying their eggs along with them.
Leaf Mimicking Insects
Leaf mimicking insects
These are 47 million years old species from the families Phyllidae and Phasmidae and having flattened leaf like body. Many of the insects have unusual shape so that their predators find it very difficult to locate them. The eggs of these insects look like seeds with a hard shell.
These insects have unique appearance and from the family phasmidae. They grow up to 20cm long and have six legs. Many people grow these insects as their pets because of being harmless.