A bug’s life: Insects at Mashpi Lodge

Insects are, without doubt, the largest class of arthropods. More than 70% of all animal species described by science correspond to the insect class. Insects acquired the ability to fly more than 240 million years ago, and in doing so became the only invertebrates able to fly. On attaining this gift, they started to colonise niches in which other forms of animal life were not so successful. In this way they exploited these ecosystems and diversified. In terms of number of species and number of individuals, these terrestrial animals dominate the planet.

Insects have certain characteristic traits which are: the three body regions (head, thorax and abdomen), hexapods (three pairs of feet), a pair of antennae and a group of complex mouth pieces. Insects that preserve their ancestral pattern use the mouth pieces to handle and chew food, but in other groups, the mouth pieces often are modified and allow them to suck, perforate, cut or lick food, or even extract nectar from the deep tubular parts of specialised flowers. These and many other characteristics allow insects to be the organisms with the greatest distribution and specialisation in the natural world. The forest of the Mashpi reserve is no exception and shelters hundreds of species of insects that are being studied or are awaiting discovery.

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