The tropical rainforest is home to hundreds of thousands of insect species, if not millions, and biologists discover and record new insect species daily. Effective conservation strategies should consider the importance of insects. In 2014 at Taricaya we started to project to study this group. With our expert entomologist on site we have collected specimens using 2 methods: manual captures on walks along the trails using plastic containers and nets and pitfall traps, simply designed with small containers buried in the ground to catch terrestrial insects. The collected animals are brought back to the laboratory where they are identified using classification keys and one of each species is mounted using entomological pins for future reference. This methodology is essential as the classification of insects is incredibly difficult. One can open a book on butterflies and see photos of hundreds of species that appear identical to the naked eye. By producing a collection of individuals that have been successfully identified we can speed up the classification process with recaptures.
THIS IS A SEASONAL ACTIVITY
- Insect walk: Follow the staff in charge of the project with containers and nets to catch the insects you can find along the way.
- Lab work: Help the staff mount and identify the specimens collected.
- Data input: Help process data into the computer.
- To date we have identified 508 species from 12 different orders and 96 families.
- This includes butterflies of which we have 281 registered species and dung beetles of which we have identified 34 species.
- Insects are important as prey, pollinators, disease vectors (important natural biological controls) and predators within the forest ecosystem and birds, amphibians, reptiles, plants and mammals all rely on insects in some way.