Insect Species in the Rainforest

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The praying mantid is just one of several species of insects to be found living in rainforests.

Insects are the most abundant life form to be found in the world's rainforests. Scientists believe that there are an estimated 50 million different species of insects living in rainforests, and new ones are being discovered all the time. With so many different types of insects living in one area it is impossible to name them all, but certain categories can be distinguished.

  1. Ants

    • Many different varieties of ants make the rainforests their home. Some inhabit the forest floor -- such as the leaf-cutter ant -- while others like the Aztec ant live on a particular tree. Leaf-cutter ants cut small pieces of leaves from trees and carry them back to the colony where they bury them underground. These leafy fragments combine with the ant's saliva to form a fungus that the ant can eat. Aztec ants are dependent on the swollen thorn acacia tree for their survival.

    Butterflies

    • Rainforests are alive with butterflies and moths, many of them brightly colored. This includes the blue morpho butterfly, which has bright-blue iridescent wings trimmed with black. A butterfly's coloring is produced by light's reflecting off transparent scales on their wings. The blue morpho is one of the largest butterflies to be found in the rainforest,and its wing span can reach up to eight inches. Adult blue morpho butterflies can mostly be found living on the forest floor, but they fly through all layers of the forest when mating.

    Beetles

    • The rainforests are home to a huge number of beetles. Some of them are more common such as the dung beetle, while others like the Hercules beetle are less well known. The Hercules beetle is found in South and Central American rainforests. It uses its distinctive horns and incredible strength to battle with rivals over a potential mate. The Hercules beetle is one of the largest and strongest species of beetles in the world; it can carry 850 times its body weight. Hercules beetles have been known to grow as large as 17 cm long.

    Mantids

    • Mantids are predatory insects that catch their prey with their forelegs, which they can often be seen holding up in front of them. This gives rise to their common name of praying mantids. There are many species of mantids living in the rainforest, and their green color allows them to blend in with the surrounding foliage so that they can sneak up on unsuspecting prey. These insects have good eyesight and strong jaws, and are one of the only species of insects that are able to turn their heads.

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