"If I discover within myself a desire which no experience of this world can satisfy,

the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

    Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963)

    Anglican philosopher and novelist

 


Machaonides swallowtail, Papilio machaonides. Bonao, central Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

 


 

The Swarming Hordes

 

CLASS INSECTA: INSECTS

 

    When I was a boy, biologists had calculated that the grand total of organic species - plant and animal - on Earth was about one million. More recent studies have given us a better understanding of the actual number of life-forms on our planet. Especially since new techniques have allowed ecologists and taxonomists to have a better access to one of the last biological frontiers, the rain forest's canopy, it is now believed that the number of living species of insects alone is between four and 30 million. Although these estimates are far from certain, and even assuming only four million species of insects, add to that the number of parasites - bacterial, protozoan, fungal, nematodan, acarine, and many of which are highly host-specific - that plague those same insects, and then the hyperparasites that the infest the parasites, and that will give us an ever better glimpse of the staggering biological diversity on Earth. (In fact, a very large percentage of the species on the planet are parasites of other organisms).

 

    In any case, and simply put, there might more species of insects on this planet than all other biological species combined.

 

    Insects are considered a class (Insecta) within the subphylum Hexapoda ("six-legged"), which also includes the classes Diplura, Protura, and Collembolla. Insects are usually the most abundant macroscopic animals in all terrestrial ecosystems. They are also present, whether as eggs, larvae, or adults, in practically every freshwater environment though, interestingly, only a very few species are marine, and even those live only in coastal areas and are never pelagic (none lives in the open ocean). None are totally aquatic throughout their lives, since all adult insects need to breathe gaseous oxygen, even those that do spend their adult lives in water.

 

Larva of Puerto Rican rhinoceros beetle, Strategus oblongus, showing on its sides the spiracles leading to its tracheae. All insects need to breathe gaseous oxygen, at least as adults.

Fort Buchanan, Guaynabo, north-eastern Puerto Rico.


    In turn, Insecta is divided into three subclasses. Two of these, Archaeognatha (bristletails) and Thysanura (silverfish) are the most primitive of all insects, and are seldom-seen denizens of damp, dark places. The remaining subclass, Pterygota, contains all the other species. These are the "winged insects", including forms that have secondarily lost their wings and capacity for flight.


    Although the relationships of insects are obscure, they seem to be most closely related to crustaceans than to any other group of living arthropods. Perhaps arising during the Devonian Period, they really exploded in terms of numbers of individuals and species later, coming into their own during the Carboniferous.


    Some insects rely on color to advertise themselves to others of their kind or to other types of animals. Also, aposematic combinations of black, red, orange, and yellow are widely recognized in the animal kingdom as a warning meaning "you better not eat me/not bother me - I taste awful/I am dangerous." (The blacks, reds, and yellows of many wasps and bees are well-known examples of this phenomenon).


    Other insects depend on camouflage to blend with their surroundings, imitating the colors and shapes of the substrate on which they live. Some have carried this to such extremes that they are practically indistinguishable from twigs, lichens, or even flowers.


    Alone among invertebrates, insects developed the capacity for true flight and where the first organisms in the history of Earth to take to the air, possibly in the early Carboniferous Period. Some orders, like the primitive silverfish have no wings, while most insects have two pairs of such. In the case of dipterans (flies and allies) only one pair of wings used for flight, while the other has been modified as an instrument for balance. Certain groups, like some walking sticks and the worker and soldier castes among ants and termites have secondarily lost their wings altogether. A few extinct groups of insects had three pairs of functional wings, but this trait was lost early in favor of only two.


    The wings of insects evolved from appendages that possibly had at first the appearance of legs. Unlike the wings of birds, bats, and pterosaurs, those of insects are not muscled and are mostly rigid in shape. The animal flies by beating and rotating them with the use of muscles that alter the shaped of the bodily wall, thus bringing movement to the wings.


    Some small insects, like midges and mosquitoes, can beat their wings tens of thousands of times per second. Many larger ones, like butterflies and dragonflies, beat them at a comparatively much more leisurely rate, and can glide of them when unhurried.



Like many other arthropods, insects can regenerate lost limbs as long as they have several molts to go through before adulthood.
This are walking sticks of the genus Lamponius sp., with partially regenerated front legs.
First photograph: Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.

Second photograph: El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.


Order Blattodea: Cockroaches

 

    Cockroaches are usually associated with dirt and germs, but in reality most species live far away from human habitations, in forests, grasslands, and even caverns. Many species are omnivorous, eating whatever they can find (which is one reason why a number of species feel so comfortable in your kitchen). Cockroaches lay their eggs enclosed in a capsule called an ootheca.



Cockroach oothecae, species undetermined. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.


    In spite of great morphological differences among them, this order of insects is actually closely related to three others: crickets and grasshoppers, mantids, and walking sticks. They are also the closest kin to the termites.

 

Puerto Rican cave cockroach, Aspiduchus cavernicola. Cueva de la 22, Cabo Rojo, south-western Puerto Rico.

This species lives exclusively in caves and caverns, where they feed on dead bats and other carrion.

 

Arboreal cockroach, Panchlora sp. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 


Mating pair of cockroaches, probably Epilampra wheeleri. Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.
The color and shape of this species blend with the forest's leaf litter in with it lives.


Cockroach, species undetermined. Mount Sage, west-central Tortola, British Virgin Islands.



Arboreal cockroach, Eurycotis sp. Pic du paradis, central Saint Martin, Lesser Antilles.

Arboreal cockroach, Eurycotis sp. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Arboreal cockroach, possibly Eurycotis sp. Grand Etang National Park, central Grenada, Lesser Antilles.

 

Arboreal cockroach, possibly Eurycotis sp. Kingstown Botanical Garden, south-western Saint Vincent, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Lesser Antilles.

 
Terrestrial cockroach, Eurycotis sp. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.



Cockroach, Eurycotis sp. Slopes of Mount Scenery, central Saba, Lesser Antilles.


Order Coleoptera: Beetles

 

    Beetles comprise the largest group of insects, indeed the single largest order of things living. They can be herbivores, predators, or carrion eaters, and comprise an important role in the terrestrial ecosystems of the world, for their great abundance and variety of species.

 

    Their first pair of wings (the "elytra") is highly chitinous and are no really used from flight. The second pair, which during rest is folded under the first, is the one used for that purpose. In general, beetles are rather clumsy fliers and their bumbling aerial movements often send them crashing into objects in a sorry excuse for a "landing". There are exceptions, however. Tiger beetles, in particular, are almost as agile as flies as they take off and land again with exquisite accuracy.


Cerambycid beetle, species undetermined. Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Cerambycid beetle, Hovorodon sp. Saint Bartholomew, Lesser Antilles.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Karl Questel).

 

Cerambycid beetle, probably Stenodontes sp. Susua State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

 

Cerambycid beetle, Solenoptera thomae.

First photograph: El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: Susua State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.



Cerambycid beetle, species undetermined. Gauynabo, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Cerambycid beetle, Lagochirus araneiformis. Barrenspot, central Saint Croix, United States Virgin Islands.

 

Cerambycid beetle, Plinthocoelium domingoensis. Del Este National Park, eastern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Piero Fariselli).

 

Cerambycid beetle, Eburia quadrimaculata. Guana Island, British Virgin Islands.



Cerambycid beetle, possibly Eburia sp. Salinas, south-western Puerto Rico.



Cerambycid beetle, species undetermined. Parque Nacional Los Haitises, northern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.



Cerambycid beetle, species undetermined.
Florida, central Puerto Rico.

 

Cerambycid beetle, Elaphidion glabratum, resting on a stem. San Juan Botanical Garden, San Juan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Cerambycid beetle, species undetermined. Isabel de Torres Nature Reserve, northern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.


Firefly, probably Photinus sp. Toro Negro State Forest, central Puerto Rico.

 

Firefly, Photuris jamaicensis. Windsor, north-central Jamaica.

 

Some elaterids have bioluminescent organs, frequently paired and on top of the thorax, as can be seen in this individual.

These emit a green light at night or when the animal feels threatened.

Members of this group are frequently called "click beetles" because they can cock and then suddenly release a hinge between

their thoraxes and abdomens. An individual placed on its back can thus jump in the air several inches, until it falls on its legs, once a gain.

This is Pyrophorus luminosus. Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.

 

Chrysomelid beetles, Macrohaltica jamaicensis, feeding on leaves.

Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

Members of this and related genera often are tiny creatures, thus frequently called flea beetles.

 

Mating pair of chrysomelid beetles, Macrohaltica jamaicensis. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Chrysomelid beetle, Sceloenopla mantecata. Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.



Flea beetle (family Chrysomelidae). Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

Tortoise beetles (family Chrysomelidae), Deloyala guttata, male (dull orange and black) and females (iridescent purple and greenish yellow).

Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

Chrysomelids are frequently called "tortoise beetles" for their general shapes.

 


The overhanging shape of the thorax and elytra of Deloyala guttata, allow them

to fit closely against their substrate as protection against attackers like ants and similar insects.

Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.



Tortoise beetle, species undetermined. Windsor, north-central Jamaica.

 

Scarabeid beetle, species undetermined. Eggleston, south-central Dominica, Lesser Antilles.

 

Scarabeid beetle, species undetermined. Guilarte State Forest, central Puerto Rico.

 

Puerto Rican rhinoceros beetles, Strategus quadrifoveatus, larva, male (two center photographs), and female. Fort Buchanan, Guaynabo, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Rhicoceros beetle, Strategus sp., male. Near Santa Bárbara de Samaná, north-eastern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.


Puerto Rican May beetle, Phyllophaga portoricensis. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Mating pair of May bettles, Phyllophaga sp.
Julio Enrique Monagas Park, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

May beetle, Phyllophaga sp. Carolina, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Beetles, species undetermined. Barbecue Bottom, north-central Jamaica.

 

Tiger beetles (family Cicindelidae), Cicindela boops. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.
Members of this family are ferocious predators of other invertebrates. They possess extremely
acute sight and are highly maneuverable in the air, contrary to most other beetles.

 

Carabid beetle, Galerita sp. Negril, western Jamaica.

 

Tenebrionid beetle larva, species undetermined. Guilarte State Forest, west-central Puerto Rico.

 

Tenebrionid beetles, Zophobas morio. Barrenspot, Central Saint Croix, United States Virgin Islands.



Mating pair of lycid beetles, Thonalmus sp. Windsor, north-central Jamaica.

 

Weevil, Diaprepes abbreviatus. Charlotte Amalie, southern Saint Thomas, United States Virgin Islands.

This animal is found in the insular banks of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and some of the Lesser Antilles.

More than 65000 species of weevils are known, and surely many more await discovery, possibly a quarter of a million.

They are the largest family (Curculionidae) of the largest order (Coleoptera) of the largest class (Insecta)

of the largest superclass (Hexapoda) of the largest phylum (Arthropoda) of the largest kingdom (Metazoa) of biological organisms.

 

Another morph of Diaprepes abbreviatus. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

As with some other beetles, and in a manner similar to butterflies, the color patters of these weevils is derived

from a thousands of microscopic scales that cover their elytra. The dark lines are actually places where the scales

fall off, and show the underlying color of the animal. This species is a pest of several crops, and has caused great

economic losses in places like Florida, United States, where it has been introduced.

 

A weevil, Diaprepes maugei, hitches a ride atop a walking stick, Lamponius sp. Toro Negro State Forest, central Puerto Rico.



Weevil, species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).



Weevil, Lachnopus coffeae. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.

 

Weevil, possibly Diaprepes glaucus. Toro Negro State Forest, central Puerto Rico.

 

A Diaprepes weevil spreads its wings upon take off. Port Antonio, north-eastern Jamaica.



Weevil, species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Weevil, Exophthalmus quindecimpunctatus.
First photograph: Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.
(Courtesy of Dr. Luis O. Nieves).
Second photograph: Juana Díaz, southern Puerto Rico.


Weevil, probably Polydrusus sp. Rio Grande, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Weevil, Cholus zonatus. Soufriere Botanical Garden, south-eastern Saint Lucia, Lesser Antilles.



Anthonomine weevil, species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).


Brentid weevil, possibly Brentus sp. Eggleston, south-central Dominica, Lesser Antilles.



Brentid weevil, probably Arrhenodes sp. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.



Phaenotheriopsis sp. Beetles of the family Anthribidae (fungus weevils) are related to true weevils,
and are distinguished from them by their shorter rostri and by the shape of their antennae, which are not "elbowed".
Undetermined species from El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
(Photograph courtesy of Dr. Javier Mercado).



Fungus weevil, Phaenotheriopsis sp. Cambalache State Forest, nortthern Puerto Rico.



Weevil, species undetermined. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.
It's cryptic defense behavior consists in rolling into a ball, appearing like a seed.


Order Dermaptera: Earwigs

 

    These peculiar insects, often called earwigs, have a pair of forceps on the end of their abdomens, somewhat like a crab's pincers. They feed on dead vegetable matter and carrion, and some species can be quite large for a member of their class. The forceps are used in copulation and as a defensive apparatus, capable of inflicting surprising but otherwise harmless pinch.

 

Earwig, possibly Euborellia caraibea. Guilarte State Forest, west-central Puerto Rico.

 

Order Diptera: Flies, Mosquitoes, and Their Kin

 

    Flies and their kin have only two functional wings. The second pair (the "alteres") has been modified as balancing organs used to keep the right orientation during flight.

 

    Although flies are not usually considered to be predators, some are, indeed. Asilids (widely known as "robber flies") for example, have evolved to prey on other insects. Their proboscii (basically the same structures as those of blood-sucking mosquitoes) are inserted into the bodies of their hapless victims in order to suck their fluids. Large individuals can inflict a nasty prick on a human finger, as well.

 

    Most dipterans, however, feed on vegetable matter or carrion, while mosquitoes are well-known for being parasites of vertebrates. Some of the latter are vectors of important, and sometimes deadly, diseases like malaria and hemorrhagic fevers like dengue.

 


Robber fly (family Asilidae), Proctacanthus sp., female. Parque Nacional del Este, eastern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.



A tiny robber fly (species undetermined) feeding on a fruit fly.
Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Robber flies, Efferia sp., male, and ovipositing female.

First photograph: Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

 

Robber fly, Ommatius marginellus, male. Caja de Muerto Nature Reserve, off southern Puerto Rico.



Robber fly, Ommatius sp. with its prey. Toro Negro State Forest, central Puerto Rico.



Robber fly, female, species undetermined. Soufriere Botanical Garden, souther-eastern Saint Lucia, Lesser Antilles.



Robber fly, Andrenosoma sp., male. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).



Robber fly, Andrenosoma ruficaudum, male. Parque Nacional del Este, eastern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.



Robber fly, Andrenosoma sp. Cabo Rojo State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

 

Micropezid flies, Hoplocheiloma sp.
First three photographs: females. Aguas Buenas, east-central Puerto Rico.
Last two photographs: mating pair. San Patricio State Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

Members of this family often mimic wasps or ants. Their forelegs are usually shortest and possess white tips which the male ways enticingly to woo the female.



Marsh fly (family Sciomizidae) Sepedon macropus. Loiza, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
(Photographs courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).



Neriid fly, Telostylinus sp. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
(Photographs courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).



Mating pair of drosophilid flies, species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Drosophilid fly. Mountaintop, central Saint Thomas, United States Virgin Islands.

 

Mating pair of flower flies (family Syrphidae), Meromacrus cintus. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

These and other species of dipterans earn some protection from predators by mimicking wasps and bees.



Flower fly, species undetermined. Cerro Las Cuevas, southern Puerto Rico.



Males of some syrphid species ("hover flies") fly motionless in the air as a display to prospective females.
Toa Baja, north-eastern Puerto Rico.


Flower flies, Palpada vinetorum. Piñones State Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Wasp-mimicking flowerfly, species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
(Photographs courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).

 

Carrion fly, Phaenicia sp., (family Calliphoridae), male feeding on nectar. Aguas Buenas, east-central Puerto Rico.

 

Deerfly (family Tabanidae, subfamily Crysopsinae), Chrysops variegata, feeding on my blood. Camuy, north-western Puerto Rico.

 

Soldier fly (Family Stratiomyidae), possibly Hedridiscus sp. Loiza, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).

 

Mosquito, species undetermined. Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

An adult midge has just emerged from its pupa, its as yet transparent body not hard enough for flight.

Species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Crane fly (family Tipulidae), species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Crane flies (family Tipulidae), species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Mosquitoes do not always feed on the blood of mammals and birds. They will also feed off reptiles,

like this one does as it sucks the blood of a sleeping juvenile female Puerto Rican giant anole, Anolis cuvieri.

Mata de Platano Field Station, Arecibo, northern Puerto Rico.



Puerto Rican elephant mosquitoes, Toxorhynchites portoricensis.
First three photographs, male. Mountaintop, central Saint Thomas, United States Virgin Islands.
Last photograph, female. Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.
This genus includes the largest-known mosquitoes. Unlike others of their kind, the females do not feed on blood but on nectar.
Their larvae prey on those of other species.


Some parasitic flies have developed bizarre lifestyles. The two "ticks" on the abdomen of this

tettigonid grasshopper are actually ceratopogonid midges, feeding on the hemolymph of their host.

Bahoruco Mountains, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.


Some fly larvae are endoparasites (they live inside the tissues of living hosts).

These are the maggots of the bot fly Philornis pici, (family Cuterebridae). They develop under

the skin of some birds, in this case a fledging Puerto Rican woodpecker (Melanerpes portoricensis).

The bird has died after more than 15 two centimeter-long maggots have consumed much its muscle tissues.

Once their host is dead, the larvae leave it to pupate on the ground.

 

Order Hemiptera: Bugs, Cicadas, Planthoppers, and Their Kin

 

    Bugs and their allies have piercing mouth parts used to suck fluids of their prey or pf plants. Some species are important vectors of both animal and plant diseases. Among these last are the reduviid bugs that are the vectors of the trypanosome protozoans that cause the dreaded Leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and sleeping sickness. Others are serious agricultural pest, and a number of them are predators of other insects.

 

    While most species are terrestrial, members of several families are aquatic, yet retaining the capacity for flight if local conditions become inadequate for survival. Some of these are the giant water bugs, backswimmers, water skaters, and water "scorpions".

 


Milkweed bugs, Oncopeltus fasciatus. Florida, central Puerto Rico.

 

Pyrrhocorid bugs, Dysdercus sanguineus neglectus. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

 

Pyrrhocorid bugs, Dysdercus andreae.
First photograph: Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: north-western Saba, Lesser Antilles.


Scutellerid bug, Pachycoris sp. Ebano Verde Scientific Reserve, central Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Eladio M. Fernandez).



Scutellerid bugs, Pachycoris fabricii, nymphs and adult. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.


Some bugs have variant morphs. This is the pentatomid Vulsirea nigrorubra.

First two photographs: El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

Last photograph, Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

This species is probably distasteful or even toxic, as advertised by its bright colors.



Bug, species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).

 

Pentatomid bug, Loxa viridis. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

 

A pentatomid bug cleans its antennae and proboscis before taking of in flight. Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.


Tessaratomid bugs, Piezosternum subulatum. San Juan Botanical Garden, San Juan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.


Bug, Spartocera sp. Grand Anse, south-western Grenada, Lesser Antilles.

 

Leaf-footed bug, (family Coreidae), probably Leptoglossus sp. Mount Hartman Bay, south-western Grenada, Lesser Antilles.



Bugs, species undetermined. Los Haitises National Park, northern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

 

Assassin bug, probably Rocconota sp. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.



Assassin bug, Rocconota sp. Florida, central Puerto Rico.



Assassin bug, species undetermined. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.
This species mimics a twig.



Bug, species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).


Phymatid ("ambush") bug, Lophoscutus sp. Florida, north-central Puerto Rico.

The shape of the front legs of this species to indicate that it is a predator of other insects.



Broad-headed bugs (Family Alydidae), species undetermined. Piñones State Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
This species is an ant mimic.

(Photographs courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).

Reduviid bugs, Stenopoda cinerea, male and female. Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Bug, species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Bug, species undetermined. San Juan Botanical Garden, San Juan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

This individual is playing dead by resembling a dead piece of bark.


Cixiid bug. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Membracid bugs, Umbonia crassicornis. Females show the more pointed appearance. San Juan Botanical Garden, San Juan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Bug, Cryptocerya genistae. Juana Díaz, southern Puerto Rico.


    Cicadas, leafhoppers, and related species also have piercing mouthparts, and feed on the sap of diverse plants. The pre-adult stages of cicadas are subterranean, and feed on plants' roots. Adult males produce strident calls with their elytra, in order to attract mates.

 

Cicadas, species undetermined, female (top) and male. Central Mountain Range of the Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

 


Cicada, Borencona aguadilla, male. Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.

Unlike some other cicadas, the call of this species is heard almost exclusively at night.

 

Cicada emerging from its last pupal stage, species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Cicada nymph, probably Proarna hilaris. Guilarte State Forest, west-central Puerto Rico.

Cicada nymphs spend their lives underground, feeding on roots.

 

Cicada, species undetermined. Eggleston, south-central Dominica, Lesser Antilles.

 

Cicada, Chinaria sp., male. Puerto Escondido, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.



Cicada, species undetermined. Barbecue Bottom, north-central Jamaica.

 

Cicada, Proarna hilaris, male. Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.



Planthopper, (family Fulgoroidea). Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.

 

Planthoppers (family Fulgoroidea) Petrusa epilepis. Fort Buchanan, Guaynabo, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Acalonid planthopper, species undetermined. Toro Negro State Forest, central Puerto Rico.

 

Leafhopper, Tylozygus sp. Guilarte State Forest, west-central Puerto Rico.



Scale insects, Ceroplastes rubens. Quebradillas, north-western Puerto Rico. (Photograph courtesy of Dr. Miguel Angel Vives Heyliger).
The females of these very derived bugs attach themselves permanently to the plants upon which they are parasites and disguise themselves with a waxy exudate.
Males are usually winged but only live for a few days.


Order Hymenoptera: Wasps, Ants, and Bees

 

    These insects are mostly social, though many species are solitary. Examples of these are the most primitive among them, the suborder Symphita: the "sawflies". The larvae of these insects are free-living, are herbivores, and resemble caterpillars - indeed very similar to those of their distant relatives, the butterflies and moths. Females do not possess stingers, and adults can be both herbivores or predators of other insects.


Krug's sawfly, Sericocera krugii. Eggs, larvae, and adult male. San Juan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

Notice the similarity of the larvae with those of a lepidopteran caterpillar.

 

    More advanced hymenopterans possess a unique defensive and offensive apparatus, their stinger, which is actually a modified ovipositor, or egg-laying organ, attached to a venom gland located in the abdomen. Depending on the species, the sting's potency may be hardly noticeable, or might produce an excruciating and incapacitating pain.

 

    Having "invented" paper eons ago, many wasps make their free-hanging nests on the underside of boughs, leaves, and rocky ledges. In them they raise their larvae with a regurgitated pulp made out of insect and spider prey. Two genera of the family Vespidae are common in the Antilles, Polistes and the very similar Mischocyttarus, this last different from the former in having a long-petioled abdomen.


    Anyone who spends some time walking along a trail in most West Indian forests will eventually come face to face with a paper-wasp nest. That same person will know that the insects often take serious exception to an intrusion in their space. Being stung simultaneously by several individuals of the larger species is a perfect way to ruin a pleasant stroll.



Polistinine paper wasps, Mischocyttarus phthisicus. Florida, central Puerto Rico.
You can see some of the larvae poking their heads from their cells. Covered cells contain pupae, before they emerge as adults.



Mischocyttarus mexicanus cubicola. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.



Polistinine paper wasp, Polistes crinitus, preying on a caterpillar. Guilarte State Forest, central Puerto Rico.

 

Polinstinine paper wasps, probably Polistes sp. Vermont Nature Reserve, south-western Saint Vincent, Lesser Antilles.


Polistinine paper wasps, Polybia occidentalis. Their huge nest hangs from a thin branch in a mangrove swamp.

Mount Hartman National Park, south-western Grenada, Lesser Antilles.



Not all vespid wasps make paper nests, but use mud instead.
A female eumenine mud wasp, Zeta abdominale, collects a ball of mud to take to its nest. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.



Eumenine wasp, Zethus rufinodus, female. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.



Eumenine wasp, Omicron aridum, empty nests and pupa. Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.
The chimney-like protrusions on top are used by the mother to feed caterpillars to the larvae and are sealed before pupation.

The adults then bite their way out of one of the ends of each nest.


A parasitic wasp, species undetermined, has laid its eggs on this caterpillar. After birth, the larvae will eventually eat the caterpillar alive from the inside out.

Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.



Some wasps parasitize plants. These galls on a Solanum sp. are probably caused by the larvae of some hymenopteran feeding on its tissues.
Southwestern Saba, Lesser Antilles.

 

    Some wasps and bees are solitary. The females build their nests underground or in dead wood, where they raise their larvae by feeding them insect or spider  prey (in the case of wasps) or honey (in the case of bees). Among Caribbean solitary wasps, tarantula hawks of the genus Pepsis are notorious for their large size and strikingly metallic colors. They are ferocious hunters of tarantulas and other large spiders, and show great ability in keeping just out of reach of their preys' deadly fangs. After harassing their victims until they are tired they sting them on their undersides. The paralyzed - but still living - spiders are placed in an underground chamber and a single egg is deposited on them. The larva hatches and then feeds to adulthood on the spider, which is being eaten from the inside out until only a hollow husk is left.

 

Tarantula hawk (family Pompilidae), Pepsis ruficornis, female. Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.

These solitary wasps hunt for spiders and other arthropods with which to feed their developing

larvae, hidden in subterranean nests. Many species of this genus possess a bright, metallic iridescence.

Tarantula hawk, Pepsis ruficornis, female attacking a Holothele tarantula. Guilarte State Forest, west-central Puerto Rico.



Pepsis ruficornis, male. Mountaintop, central Saint Thomas, United States Virgin Islands.



Tarantula hawk, Pepsis sp., female. Soufriere Botanical Garden, south-eastern Saint Lucia, Lesser Antilles.

 

Pompilid wasp, probably Pepsis sp., sleeping on a leaf at night. Grand Etang National Park, central Grenada, Lesser Antilles.



Pompilid wasps, Aporus simulatrix.
First photograph: El Yunque National Forest, north central Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: Guajataca State Forest, north-western Puerto Rico.



Pompilid wasp, Poecilopompilus flavopictus hookeri. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).



Pompilid wasp, species undetermined. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).


Velvet ant, (family Mutillidae), probably Dasymutilla bouvieri, female. Rabo de Gato, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

These "ants" are actually a kind of terrestrial, wingless wasps. Many species can deliver very painful stings.

 

Ichneumonid wasp, Enicopsilus purgatus. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.

These wasps are parasites of other insects, laying their eggs on living hosts. The larvae hatch to feed on their victim.



Ichneumonid wasp, species undetermined. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.
It is watching a nest of Mischocyttarus paper wasps, seeking an opportunity to lay its own eggs on their larvae.



Stephanid wasp, Megischus sp. Del Este National Park, eastern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Piero Fariselli).

 


Stephanid wasp, Megischus sp. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Jose Rodriguez Molina).

 

Sand wasp, (family Crabronidae), Stictia signata. Susua State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

This species makes underground lairs in sandy areas, where its breeds its larvae.



Sphecid wasp, Prionyx thomae, female, excavating a burrow where it will lay an egg on a captured cricket or grasshopper.
Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.


Scoliid wasp, Campsomeris trifasciata, male. Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, south-western Saint Croix, United States Virgin Islands.



Scoliid wasp, Campsomeris tricincta, female. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
(First photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).



Scoliid wasp, Xanthocampsomeris sp., female. Friar's Bay, north-western Saint Martin.
(Photographs courtesy of Mr. Mark Yokoyama).


    Solitary bees in the region include the bumblebees of the genus Xylocopa. These last are frequently called "carpenter bees" for their habit of hollowing out nests in dead snags, where they build their nests. The mother accumulates a portion of pollen and honey in the grub's chamber, and then seals it off with a mixture of chewed wood and salive. Once it has metamorphosized, the new adult breaks open its imprisonment and leaves. The sexes of the common Antillean species are strikingly different in appearance. Females are jet black, while the rare and seldom seen males are rusty orange in color.

 

Xylocopa mordax, females.
First photograph: Florida, central Puerto Rico.

Second photograph: Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

The second bee peeks out of its hole excavated in a dead branch.

The males and females of these enormous bees are quite different, males being golden yellow.


Apid bees, Anthophora tricolor. Florida, central Puerto Rico.



Apid bees, Centris decolorata, females. Tortuguero Nature Reserve, northern Puerto Rico.



Centris lanipes, female. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).



Centris haemorrhoidalis, female. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.


A tiny halictid bee, Lasioglossum eickwortellum, collects nectar from a melastome flower, Leandra krugii.

Maricao State Forest, western Puerto Rico.

 

    The several families of ants comprise an early evolutionary offshoot of the wasp lineage. Some are herbivores, while others are omnivores or predators of other organisms. Like wasps, ants usually carry a sting, and most species live in colonies where individuals belong to one or another class of queen, drones, and sterile female workers and soldiers.

 

    Solenopsis fire ants are found in open, relatively dry microhabitats in mesic areas of the Antilles. Their name derives from the burning sensation caused by their stings and the reddish hues of most species. The sting of a single fire ant is by no means a major affair except for a hypersensitive or allergic person. The individual animals are very small, to begin with, and the amount of their venom is minute, as well. However, disturbing a fire ants' nest may mean courting disaster, since as many as hundreds of thousands of angry insects swarm over everything in their path, seeking the cause of their irritation. If the intruder is a small animal, it may easily be stung to death.

 

    Other West Indian species of ants, like the much larger, long-bodied and spindly-legged ponerines of the genus Odontomachus, establish their rather small colonies under rocks and downed, rotting trees. They are much less aggressive than fire ants but will attack when hard-pressed, biting down with their long, pincer-like jaws and then stinging painfully.

 

The nests of fire ants (Solenopsis sp). can be recognized by the mounds of soil that dot many grassy regions in the Neotropics.

The ants themselves are tiny, but possess a nasty sting.

They can represent a nuisance in agricultural areas, and may even constitute a moderate threat to human health.

Photographed in Aguas Buenas, central Puerto Rico.

 

Winged adult and worker of Solenopsis geminata fire ants. Yauco, south-western Puerto Rico.


Fire ants, species undetermined, prepare to swarm and mate in the late afternoon. Guayabal, south-cenral Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico

Ants, Odontomachus haematoda. These ponerines can deliver quite a painful sting.

Barrenspot, central Saint Croix, United States Virgin Islands.

 

Ants, species undetermined. Near Negril, western Jamaica.

 

Arboreal ants' nest. Barbecue Bottom, north-central Jamaica.

 

This nest of a Puerto Rican emerald hummingbird, Chlorostilbon maugeus, has been assailed by arboreal ants.

Unable to defend its chicks, the parent bird has abandoned them.

El Rosario, south-western Puerto Rico.

 

Carpenter ants, Camponotus kaura. Grand Colombier, Saint Bartholomew, Lesser Antilles.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Karl Questel).

 

Order Isoptera: Termites

 

    Possibly during the Jurassic geological period a group of cockroaches developed an eusocial lifestyle. They gathered together in colonies, something that the only other eusocial insects - some ants, bees, and wasps - do today. They also developed a symbiotic relationship with certain archaean and protozoic organisms that adapted to live in their guts and which can digest cellulose. The descendants of those cockroaches are the "termites".


    In terms of individuals, these are among the most abundant of terrestrial arthropods. Trillions of them may live in a single Antillean forest, recycling dead wood and making it available again for use by other living organisms.



Nest of termites, Nasutitermes costalis. Mary Point, Virgin Islands National Park, Saint John, United States Virgin Islands.

The one on the left has been abandoned and is in a state of decay.
Termites are among the best known "social" insects on Earth, after hymetopterans (wasps, bees, and ants).
  Close relatives of cockroaches, their capability to digest cellulose (with the help of protozoan symbionts that live in their guts)
places these insects among some of the most influential organisms in tropical forests' food chains,

by allowing them to digest enormous quantities of otherwise unusable organic matter. Only fungi,
as a whole, are more important on regards to the use of dead tissue in Earth's terrestrial ecosystems.

 

Nasutitermes costalis. Lajas, south-western Puerto Rico.

Soldiers of Nasutitermes have pointy heads. Indeed, the generic name translates to "termite with a nose".

From the tip of their "noses" they squirt a sticky, irritating fluid used in the defense of their colonies.

 

The galleries of Nasutitermes termites, made of wood pulp mixed with saliva, extend far away from their colonies.

These passages are used to travel under cover to and from sources of dead wood, like this dead tree stump.

Mary Point, Virgin Islands National Park, Saint John, United States Virgin Islands.

 

    Termite colonies are ruled by a queen, which is the only fertile female in the colony. Some of these colonies are the largest elaborated by any social insects and might contain millions of individuals. The queen is often a bloated, immobile creature that cannot move about and depends of its progeny to clean and feed it. It's distended abdomen is filled with eggs that are likewise cared for by hordes of workers.


Termites, species undetermined.

Near Rabo de Gato, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.


Order Lepidoptera: Butterflies and Moths

 

    This is the second largest order of insects, after Coleoptera (beetles). Each wing is covered by thousands to millions of microscopic scales that fit together among themselves like shingles on a roof. Each scale is of a single color but, to the naked human eye, the juxtaposition of the scales of different colors forms the overall pattern of the animals' wings in the same way in which a mosaic is seen: as a whole. It is this structural trait which gives them its name, from the greek "lepido-pteron": "scaly wings".

 

    Moths are far more abundant than butterflies in terms of species, and are placed in about 42 superfamilies, themselves divided into far many more families. Their taxonomy is quite complex and about 126 families are known to date. Butterflies are simply moths that evolved from the ancestral nocturnal stage into a diurnal niche, and are grouped into two large superfamilies. Hesperiodea contains the skippers and their allies, while all other (the majority) of butterflies are placed in the Papilionoidea.


   Among insects, butterflies and many moths attract attention for their frequently vivid colors.
They are universally recognized for what they are and, except for species that resort to mimicry, they cannot be confused with anything else.

 

    Lepidopterans possess mouthparts modified for ingesting liquids by suction. A long proboscis is extended and inserted into flowers or wounds on plants in order to feed on nectar, tree sap, or juices of rotting fruits. The color patterns of their wings have a very peculiar nature, as they are actually mosaics of microscopic, pigmented scales. These are what is left on a hand as a powdery residue when one handles a butterfly or moth. As the animal grows older, and with the exertions of flying, the scales constantly fall off day by day. That is the reason why butterflies so often look "washed out" and discolored already a few weeks after emerging from the chrysalis. Indeed, the adult life of most butterflies and moths lasts only a few months, when not mere weeks, before their wings begin to literally fall apart.

 

    Although butterflies and moths are very similar, most butterflies can usually be told apart if one looks closely at their antennae. Those of butterflies are thin and end in a small club. The antennae of male moths are often feather-like and, while those of females are not, they are not clubiform in either sex.


    Butterflies usually have a thin and pronounced "waist" that separates their thoraxes from their abdomens. Moths, on the other hand, lack this trait, their thoraxes and abdomens being nearly fused together without a clear demarcation between the two body parts. One clear exception to this rule are the skippers (small butterflies in the family Hesperiidae), which indeed look like small moths in their general appearance.


    A less obvious difference between the two groups can be noticed when one looks at a resting individual of either kind. Butterflies will usually hold their wings closed, pressed together above the body, while moths will either hold them open and pressed against the substrate or will fold them backwards over their bodies. Again, exceptions exist, like that of the nymphalid butterflies of the genus Hamadryas, which will hold their wings open and flat against the tree trunks on which they usually alight.

 

    And finally, the least reliable difference between both groups: butterflies are creatures of the sunlight, while moths enter into their own at night. While no known West Indian butterfly is nocturnal, several moths in the region do indeed prefer the daylight for their feeding and mating. However, and most interestingly, most of the latter are species that mimic diurnal animals, sometimes taxonomically very different from them. The color and flight patterns of some Composia moths are somewhat similar to those of the poisonous Heliconius butterflies the inhabit many of the same forests. Other diurnal moths in the region look strikingly and, at first sight, alarmingly similar the fierce Polistes and Pepsis wasps with which the live in sympatry. And the small and green Aellopos sphingid moths bear an astonishing resemblance to the tiny Caribbean Mellisuga and Chlorostilbon hummingbirds, as they nervously flit from one flower to another in search of nectar during the day. (Although, actually, the model for their mimicry seems to be a South American hummingbird that is not found in the Antilles).


    There is no lack of mimics among nocturnal Caribbean moths, but these usually resemble inanimate objects, like the lichen or pieces of tree bark on which they usually rest during the day. However, some of the most attractive butterflies in these islands can spectacularly disappear from sight in a fraction of a second not only by coloration mimicry, but also through an interesting behavioral adaptation. This is especially noticeable in the case of some nymphalid butterflies like the, leafwings, silverwings, and orions of the genera Anaea, Siderone, Archaeoprepona, and Historis. These nervous and fast-flying insects will perch on a tree trunk or branch and will instantly close their wings. The upper surface of these are vividly colored in red, orange or blue, but their undersides are patterned like dead, dry leaves. The effect gained is that they seem to vanish into thin air, and then are almost impossible to spot unless they move, an almost certain way to remain undetected by at least some predators. The members of the also nymphalid genus Hamadryas exhibit a similar behavioral strategy though, in their case, their wings are somberly blotched in grays and browns, and are held flat against the tree trunks, which bark they sometimes mimic to almost total perfection.


    At the opposite end of this behavioral spectrum, some butterflies apparently want to be seen by their predators. These include the slow-flying and brilliantly colored danaiine and heliconiine nymphalid butterflies, like the Danaus monarchs and queens, the Lycorea tigers, the Eueides and Heliconius longwings, and the Agraulis fritillaries. These beautiful butterflies use their striking upper- and underwing patterns and their phlegmatic flights to advertise their distastefulness to potentially interested predators. Their repulsive flavors and dangerous toxicities are due to alkaloids that they incorporate directly from their larval food plants, usually Asclepias milkweeds and Passiflora vines. In turn, some of these butterflies are mimicked by others (like the pierids of the genus Dismorphia) which may or may not be toxic themselves, but which nonetheless derive some protection from the visual ruse.

 


The proboscis of a dusky swallowtail, Papilio aristodemus aristodemus, can be seen under its head.

Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.



A zebra longwing regurgitates a misxture of nectar and pollen. (I have no idea why).
Gorda peak National Park, central Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.

 

A silverking butterfly, (Puerto Rican race, Archaeprepona demophoon ramorosum) feeds on trees sap with its long proboscis.

Camuy Caverns Park, Camuy, north-western Puerto Rico.

 

Black witch moth, Ascalapha odorata, male, feeding on the juices of fallen fruit.

San Juan north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

    Although the butterfly and moth faunas of the Antilles are much less varied than those of the nearby continental Neotropics, they still are conspicuous members of the local insect fauna. A number of species are endemic to the Caribbean islands while many others are found in the American continents, as well.

 

Caterpillar, species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Caterpillar mimicking tree bark, species undetermined. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.

 

Caterpillar, species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Caterpillar (species undetermined) feeding on the fruits of Gonzalagunia hirsuta.

Near Morne Anglais, southern Dominica, Lesser Antilles.

 

Caterpillar, species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Caterpillar, species undetermined. Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.



Moth caterpillar, Nystalea sp. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).



Nystalea aequipars. Maricao State Forest, western Puerto Rico.
This caterpillar mimics a lizard in order to deter potential predators. The "head" is actually the abdomen of the insect.
(Photographs courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).


    Some of the largest and most beautiful butterflies in the world belong to the family Papilionidae. (In fact, Papilio is the genus in which Linnaeus placed all butterflies). Many species are commonly known as "swallowtails" for the extensions of their hindwings. The largest member of the family in the Americas is the giant swallowtail of Jamaica, Papilio homerus. This huge and impressive insect is endangered due to habitat loss.

 


Androgeus swallowtail, Papilio androgeus (subspecies epidaurus), male, drinking from a puddle.

El Rosario, south-western Puerto Rico.

Many members of this family are commonly called "swallowtails",

for the elongated posterior tips of their hindwings.

 


Machaonides swallowtail, Papilio machaonides.

Bahoruco National Park, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

 


Dusky swallowtail, (nominate race, Papilio aristodemus aristodemus).

Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

 


Pelaus swallowtails, (Hispaniolan and Puerto Rican race, Papilio pelaus imerius), females.

Florida, central Puerto Rico.

 

Polydamas swallowtail (Puerto Rican race, Battus polydamas thyamus), caterpillar and adult.

First photograph: Crown Mountain, Saint Thomas, United States Virgin Islands.

Second photograph: Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.


    One of the families of large and colorful butterflies that is best represented in the Antilles is Nymphalidae. Many species are colorful, and members of the related genera Anaea, Archeoprepona, Historis, and Hypna are notoriously fast insects with powerful and bat-like flights. Some, like Colobura, Hamadryas, Marpesia, and the aforementioned Anaea and Archaeoprepona  are highly cryptic when they perch motionless, often folding their wings and showing their undersides that resemble dead leaves. The striking colors of the dorsal sides of their wings are only revealed when they fly.

 

    Some species like the monarch, Danaus plexippus (of the subfamily Danaiinae) are highly toxic to most would-be predators. Their caterpillars feed on plants with high concentrations of alkaloids that the insects incorporate into their own tissues, thus making themselves unpalatable. They advertise their distastefulness with brilliant orange and black colors. Although continental populations of the monarch are famous for their migrations that span thousands of miles, West Indian populations are sedentary, and have indeed evolved into several local subspecies.

 

A male Puerto Rican crested anole (Anolis cristatellus cristatellus) attempts to devour the caterpillar of a Puerto Rican monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus portoricensis), only to vomit it a few minutes later.

San Juan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

    Many West Indian nymphalids do not feed on nectar, but rather ingest tree sap or the juices of rotting fruits. They sometimes aggregate whenever fallen fruits accumulate, or where woodpeckers or other animals have broken the bark of living trees.

 


Caterpillar and adults of monarch butterflies (central Antillean race, Danaus plexippus megalippe).

First two photographs: southern Saint Christopher, Lesser Antilles.

Third photograph: Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Queen butterfly (Lesser Antillean race, Danaus, gilippus xanthippus). Mount Hartman National Park, south-western Grenada, Lesser Antilles.

 

Many-spotted king, (nominate race, Anetia briarea briarea), male. Bahoruco National Park, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

 

Hispaniolan king butterfly, Anetia jaegeri, male. Bahoruco Mountains, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Pedro Genaro Rodriguez)

 

Tiger mimic-queen, Lycorea cleobaea cleobaea. Near Rabo de Gato, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

Members of Lycorea mimic the also distasteful heliconiid butterflies, Heliconius.

The kind of mimicry, called "Mullerian", involves two or more species that are both similarly

poisonous or toxic and similar in their appearance, and that usually live in sympatry.

In that way, they reinforce each another's effectiveness in dissuading predators.

 


Haitian sister (Puerto Rican race, Adelpha gelania arecosa), females.

First photograph: Tortuguero Nature Reserve, northern Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: Guajataca, north-western Puerto Rico.
Third photograph: Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.



Malaquite butterfly, (nominate race, Siproeta stelenes stelenes). Near Rabo de Gato, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

 

Malachite butterflies, (nominate race, Siproeta stelenes stelenes).
First photograph: Florida, central Puerto Rico.

Second photograph, Windsor, north-central Jamaica.

 


South American mestra, Mestra cana, male. Mount Hartman National Park, south-western Grenada, Lesser Antilles.

 

Nymphalid butterfly, Asterocampa idyja. Ebano Verde Scientific Reserve, central Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Miguel Angel Landestoy).

 

Cuban crescent, Anthanassa frisia frisia. Near Polo, Bahoruco Mountains, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

 

Nymphalid butterfly, Doxocopa thoe, male. Ebano Verde Scientific Reserve, central Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Pedro Genaro Genaro Rodriguez).

 


Puerto Rican leaf-wings, Anaea borinquenalis.
First photograph: Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.
Next two photographs: Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.
This cryptic species endemic to Puerto Rico resembles a dry leaf when it perches on a branch or on the ground.

However, when it opens its wings, it reveals their bright orange color.



A female Puerto Rican leaf-wing lays its eggs on a Croton bush. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).


Hispaniolan leaf-wing, Anaea troglodyta, female. Rabo de Gato, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

 

Jamaican leaf-wing, Anaea portia, female. Sheffield, western Jamaica.

 

Archimestra, Archmestra teleboas. Near Rabo de Gato, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

The genus is monotypic, and endemic to the Hispaniolan insular bank.

 

White peacock (nominate race, Anartia jatrophae jatrophae). Mount Hartman National Park, south-western Grenada, Lesser Antilles.

 


White peacocks (Puerto Rican race, Anartia jatrophae semifusca), male and mating pair. Tortuguero Nature Reserve, northern Puerto Rico.



White peackock (Jamaican race, Anartia jatrophae jamaicensis). Windsor, north-central Jamaica.

 

Anartia lytraea. Ebano Verde Scientific Reserve, central Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Eladio M. Fernandez).


Tropical buckeye, Junonia genoveva. Tortuguero Nature Reserve, northern Puerto Rico.

 

Dirce beauty (Puerto Rican race, Colobura dirce wolcotti).

First three photographs: Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.
Last photograph: Las Limas Nature Reserve, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Mexican fritillary (Puerto Rican race, Euptoieta hegesia watsoni). Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

 

Puerto Rican checkerpots, Atlantea tulita, eggs, caterpillar, and adults. Guajataca, north-western Puerto Rico.

Each of the four members of this genus of fritillaries is endemic to a Greater Antillean insular bank.



Red rims (nominate race), Biblis hyperia hyperia.
First photograph: caterpillar. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: emerging from its chrysalis. Cambalache State Forest, north-western Puerto Rico. (Photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colon Archilla).
Third photograph: female, Cerro Las Cuevas, southern Puerto Rico.

Last photograph: Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

Two Eunica tatila tatilisca (also nymphalids) accompany it in the last photograph.

 


Nynphalid butterfly, Myscelia aracynthia, female. Ebano Verde Scientific Reserve, central Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.
This species is endemic to its island.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Miguel Angel Landestoy).



  Dingy purplewing, Eunica monima, female. Puerto Escondido, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.



Florida purplewings, Eunica tatila tatilista.
First photograph: male. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: female, Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.

 

Puerto Rican race of the two-spotted prepona, A. d. ramorosum. Susua State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.
A leaf-mimic when at rest, the upper surface of the wings have iridescent blue markings on a blackish brown background.



Caterpillars of Archaeoprepona demophoon ramorosum. Ciales, central Puerto Rico.


The largest nymphalid in the West Indies: the orion, Historis odius odius. Near Pie Pol, Bahoruco Mountains, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

This is the butterfly with the most powerful flight in the islands of the Caribbean,

rivaled in that sense only by its relative, Archaeoprepona demophoon (above).

 


Pale crackers, Hamadryas amphichloe diasia.
First photograph: Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: Parque Nacional del Este, eastern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

Members of this genus are called "clickers" or "crackers", for the noise they make as they fly.

The noise-producing mechanism is unknown.

Antillean populations seldom exhibit this trait.

 


Ruddy daggerwings (Antillean race, Marpesia petreus damicorum).
First two photographs: females, Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.
Third photograph: male, Cambalache State forest, northern Puerto Rico.

 

Cuban daggerwing (Hispaniolan race, Marpesia eleuchea dospassosi), males.
First photograph: Ebano Verde Scientific Reserve, central Dominican Republic, Hispaniola. (Courtesy of Mr. Pedro Genaro Rodriguez).
Second photograph: Parque Nacional del Este, eastern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.



Many-banded daggerwings, Marpesia chiron.
First photograph: Guajataca State Forest, north-western Puerto Rico.

Second photograph: Windsor, north-central Jamaica.

 

The smallest West Indian nymphalid: the Antillean crescent,  Antillea pelops. Female and pair (male on the left).
Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.

This race (A. p. pelops) occurs in Puerto Rico and some of the northern Lesser Antilles.



Painted lady, Vanessa cardui. Summit of Mount Scenery, central Saba, Lesser Antilles.
This temperate zone butterfly in found in the Antilles exclusively on cool montane regions.

 

    The nymphalid subfamily Heliconiinae perhaps represent the quintessence of Neotropical butterflies. However, a number of species reach the Paleartic biogeographical region. Like danaids, this family includes a good number of species (Agraulis, Heliconius, etc.) that are toxic to most of their potential predators. In a similar manner, they advertise their unpalatable flavor with vivid colors and slow, leisurely flight.

Northern Antillean gulf fritillaries, Agraulis vanillae insularis, caterpillar and chrysalis.
Bosque del Milenio, San Juan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.


Northern Antillean gulf fritillaries, Agraulis vanillae insularis.
First photograph: The Quill National Park, southern Saint Eustatius, Lesser Antilles.
Second photograph: Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

 

    Butterflies of the genus Heliconius (commonly known as "longwings") are widespread in the Neotropics, with H. charitonia entering the West Indies and North America in southern Florida. Their larvae feed on a number of species of passionflower plants (Passiflora). Adults of all species fly slowly and regally, with shallow wingbeats, thus advertising their toxicity to interested predators by means of their beautiful combinations of blacks, blues, yellows, and reds.

 


Zebra longwings, Heliconius charitonia charitonia, congregating at dusk to sleep on a grass inflorescence.

First photograph: Sage Mountain National Park, west-central Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Second photograph: Mata de Platano Field Station, Arecibo, northern Puerto Rico.

Third photograph: Guana Island, British Virgin Islands.
Heliconiines are a mostly Neotropical subfamily of butterflies, most species being native to Central and South America.



Heliconius charitonia charitonia. Crown Mountain, cenytral Saint Thomas, United States Virgin Islands.



Zebra longwing, (Jamaican race, Heliconius charitonia simulator). Barbecue Bottom, north-central Jamaica.

 

Julia, (nominate race, Dryas iulia iulia).
First photograph: male, Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: mating pair, Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.



Dryas iulia warneri. Mount Scenery, central Saba, Lesser antilles.

 

    The members of the family Libytheidae are called "snout butterflies" due the the elongated labial palpi that together resemble a nose. The group is very small and the highest number of species are found in the Caribbean.

 

Libytheana terena. First two photographs; Near Salinas de Bani, southern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola. (Courtesy of Mr. Miguel Angel Landestoy).
Third photograph: Parque Nacional del Esdte, eastern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.


    The nymphalid subfamily Satyrinae is represented in the West Indies by a single genus endemic to the region: Calisto. These small butterflies, gray or reddish brown in color, can be seen fluttering close to the ground in all the Greater Antilles and some of The Bahamas. By far, most species are endemic to Hispaniola, which probably has several dozen species. A few are found in Cuba and The Bahamas, two inhabit the Puerto Rican bank, and there is a single species in Jamaica.

 


Puerto Rican calistos, Calisto nubila, females.

First photograph: Susua State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

Second photograph: Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.

The entire genus of several dozen species is restricted to the Greater Antilles and The Bahamas, with most species

being endemic to Hispaniola. The subfamily (Satyrinae) is widespread in the Americas, especially in the Neotropics.



Puert Rican calistos, Calisto nubila, mating pair. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Confused calisto, Calisto confusa. Near Pie Pol, Bahoruco Mountains, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

 

Jamaican calisto, Calisto zangis. Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, east-central Jamaica.

 

Yellow-banded calisto, Calisto archebates, male. Zapoten, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Pedro Genaro Rodriguez).

 

Gall's calisto, Calisto galli galli. Ebano Verde Scientific Reserve, central Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Miguel Angel Landestoy).



Obscure calisto, Calisto obscura. Parque Nacional del Este, eastern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.


    The family Lycaenidae includes a large number of small or tiny butterflies. A number of them are called "hairstreaks" for the thin, filamentous "tails" of their hind wings. Others are called "blues" for their obvious hues. There are many species in the Caribbean including a good number of endemics, but due to their small size and the great similarity among many species they often remain undetected by merely casual observers.

 

Hanno blue, Hemiargus hanno watsoni.
First photograph: Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, south-western Saint Croix, United States Virgin Islands.
Second photograph: Toa Baja, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

Some lycaenids are among the tiniest butterflies in the World.

Species like this one have wingspans smaller then a human finger's width.

 


Saint Vincent's hairstreak Pseudolycaena cybele. Vermont Nature Reserve, south-western Saint Vincent, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Lesser Antilles.

This is the largest member of its family in the Caribbean.

 

"Antillean" western pigmy blue, Brephidium exilis isophthalma. Jimani, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

 

Disjunct scrub-hairsteak, Strymon bubastus ponce. Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.



Disguised scrub-hairstreak, Strymon limenia, female. Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 


Mallow scrub-hairstreak, Strymon istapa arecibo. Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 


The butterfly shown in the previous photograph is joined here by two pierids, Eurema elathea elathea and Pyrisitia lisa euterpe.

Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

    Pierids are white, yellow, or orange butteflies that are Cosmopolitan in distribution. In fact, the name of the family comes from the Greek term for "fire": pyros. It is also their hues which gave the common name of "butterfly" to the entire order.

 

    The populations of some Antillean species, like Ascia monuste, explode by the millions in some areas after heavy rains following dry seasons. Hordes of them can be seen crossing roads, at such times.

 

Great southern white, Ascia monuste eubotea, chrysalis and adult males. Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.



Ascia monuste virginia. The Quill National Park, southern Saint Eustatius, Lesser Antilles.

 

    Many butterflies species exhibit a behavior known as "puddling". They congregate at sources of moisture (stream banks, puddles, urine) where they drink mineral-laden water. In the Caribbean, pierids are especially apt to be seen engaging in this behavior.

 

Butterflies during "puddling." This is a multiple-species group composed of the pierids

Ascia monuste eubotea, Aphrissa statira cubana, Eurema lisa euterpe, Kricogonia lyside, and Phoebis philea philea.

Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Large orange sulfur, (West Indian race, Phoebis agarithe antillia). Cartagena Lagoon Nature Reserve, south-western Puerto Rico.

 

Cloudless sulfurs, Phoebis sennae sennae, males, puddling on dead seaweed on a beach. Azua, southern Dominican Republic.

 

Orange sulfur Phoebis editha, male, emerging from its chrysalis. Near Salinas de Bani, southern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Pedro Genaro Rodriguez).


    Pierids of the genus Eurema and Pyrisitia resemble diminutive versions of their Ascia and Phoebis relatives. They have weak and fluttering flights as the move among small flowers like those of Bidens shrubs.

Banded yellow, Eurema elathea elathea, female. Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.



  Dina yellow, Pyrisitia dina parvumbra, male. Barbecue Bottom, north-central Jamaica.



Little yellow, (Greater Antillean race, Pyrisitia lisa euterpe), male. Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 


Puerto Rican yellow, Pyrisitia portoricensis.
First photograph: male. Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: female. Florida, central Puerto Rico.

 

     One group of West Indian pierids are quite atypical in their appearance. They do not exhibit the rounded wings and mostly monochromatic yellow or orange hues of the other large pierids. Members of the genus Dismorphia, mimic the local heliconiids like Heliconius and Euides. Like them, Dismorphia have long wings strikingly marked in black, orange, and yellow. The mimicry extends even to their habit of flying slowly to advertise their warning colors.

 

    The Haitian mimic, Dismorphia spio, even has two very different color morphs: a black and orange one, and the other being black and yellow. This last one is particularly prone to be confused with the pattern of the zebra longwing, Heliconius charitonia, its obvious model in the Caribbean. However, an immediate difference can be noticed in their respective sizes, D. spio being significantly smaller.

 

Hispaniolan mimic-whites, Dismorphia spio.

First photograph: male. Guajataca State Forest, north-western Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: female. Florida, central Puerto Rico.

In this stance it resembles a dead leaf. However, the upper side of its wings mimic the distasteful  Heliconius butterflies with which it occurs sympatrically.

 

    The clearwings (family Ithomiidae) are represented in the Antilles by a single genus: Greta. They are found only in Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispaniola. These butterflies lack the microscopic pigmented scales on the wings, typical of most butterflies. Hence, as their common name implies, their wings are transparent, with just a few brownish or white spots on them.

 


Antillean clearwing (central Hispaniolan, Greta diaphanus charadra). Central Mountain Range of the Dominican Republic, Hispaniola

In the Caribbean islands are only found in Cuba, Hispaniola, and Jamaica.

 

    The family of butterflies that is best represented in the Antilles (as in many other parts of the World) is Hesperiidae: the skippers. Aptly named after their nervous, jumpy flight patterns, these small insects resemble moths in their short and hairy bodies. They are occasionally found by the hundreds on flowering plants.

 

Caribbean duskywings, Ephyriades arcas philemon.
First photograph: male. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: female. Caja de Muerto Nature Reserve, off southern Puerto Rico.

 

Mating pair of Ephyriades arcas philemon. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.



Achlyodes mithridates sagra, female. Mountaintop, central Saint Thomas, United States Virgin Islands.


Hammock skippers, (nominate race, Polygonus leo leo).
First photograph: male and female. Susua State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: female. Guajataca State Forest, north-western Puerto Rico.

 

Skipper, Copaeodes stillmani. National Botanical Garden, Santo Domingo, southern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Pedro Genaro Rodríguez).

 

Vitellius skipper, Coranthus vitellius, a Puerto Rican bank endemic.

First photograph: San Juan Botanical Garden, San Juan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

Second photograph: Bonne Resolution, central Saint Thomas, United States Virgin Islands.

 

Very similar to the one above, another Puerto Rican endemic, Coranthus borincona. Juana Díaz, southern Puerto Rico.

 

Skipper, Polites dictynna. Grand Etang National Park, central Grenada, Lesser Antilles.

 

Skipper, Urbanus obscurus, female. Mount Hartman Bay, south-western Grenada, Lesser Antilles.



Skippers, Proteides mercurius pedro.
First photograph: Guajataca, north-western Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.

 

Some skippers are brightly colored. This is Astraptes habana heriul. Los Guayuyos, south-central Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Miguel Angel Landestoy).

 


Three-spotted skippers (nominate race, Cymaenes tripunctus tripunctus). San Juan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Tropical checkered skippers, Pyrgus oileus, courting pair (female on the right). Polo, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

 


Tropical checkered skippers, Pyrgus oileus, female. Windsor, north-central Jamaica.

 


Checkered skipper, Pyrgus orcus, male. Grand Anse, south-western Grenada, Lesser Antilles.

 

    Moths are usually active by night. Some species, like the sphinxes, can hover like hummingbirds in front of flowers on which nectar they feed with their long proboscii. There are many more species of moths than of butterflies in the world, but because they are mainly nocturnal, most species are rather seldom seen by humans.

 

    Many moths have powerful senses of smell located in their antennae. The females exude volatile pheromones that are detected by the males, which can then fly to their mates, sometimes from a distance of many kilometers.


Sphingid moth, species undetermined. Las Limas Private Nature Reserve, Guayama, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 


Sphingid moth, Erinnyis sp. Mount Hartman National Park, south-western Grenada, Lesser Antilles.



Sphingid moth, Enyo lugubris. Fort Buchanan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.


Sphynxid moth, Protambulyx strigilis. Cinnamon Bay, Virgin Islands National Park, Saint John, United States Virgin Islands.



Sphingid moth, species undetermined, feeding on fruit of Muntingia calabura.
Julio Enrique Monagas Park, north-eastern Puerto Rico.


Sphingid moth caterpillar, species undetermined. Grand Etang National Park, central Grenada, Lesser Antilles.

 

Sphingid moth caterpillar, species undetermined. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.



Sphingid moth caterpillar. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.

Its eyespots make it resemble a lizard.
(Photographs courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).

 


During their first days, caterpillars of the sphynxid moth, Pseudosphinx tetrio huddle together.

They feed on highly poisonous plants, often apocynaceans of the genus Plumeria.

El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 


The huge mature caterpillars of Pseudosphinx tetrio moths better show the aposematic patter that advertises them as toxic to predators.

This individual was found on one of its usual larval hosts in the Caribbean: Plumeria alba.

Kingstown Botanical Garden, south-western Saint Vincent, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Lesser Antilles.



Caterpillars of the sphingid moth, Eumorpha fasciata. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Geometrid moth, Nemoria rectilinea, female. Eggleston, south-central Dominica, Lesser Antilles.

 

Geometrid moth, Oxylia vesulia transponens. Eggleston, south-central Dominica, Lesser Antilles.



Geometrid moth, Erastria decrepitaria. Monte Pirata, western Vieques.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Mel Jose Rivera).



Geometrid moth, species undetermined, male. Florida, central Puerto Rico.

 


Diurnal moth, Utethesia ornatrix, caterpillar and adult. Toa Baja, north-eastern Puerto Rico.


Caterpillar and mating pair of moths, Composia credula.

First photograph: Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

Last two photographs: Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.

 

Black witch, Ascalapha odorata, female. Pic du Paradis, central Saint Martin, Lesser Antilles.

These large nocturnal insect can easily be mistaken for a bat as it flies erratically under the forest canopy.
This noctuid is one of the largest moths on Earth, with a wingspan of up to 16 centimeters.

It ranges from the southern United States, through Central and most of South America, as well as the West Indies.



Moth, Letis mycerina.
Guilarte State Forest, west-central Puerto Rico.

 

Moth, possibly Conchylodes sp. Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Moth caterpillar, possibly Ecpantheria sp. Near Rabo de Gato, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

 


Caterpillars and pupae of the tineid moth, Megalopyge krugii.

First photograph: Camuy, north-western Puerto Rico.
Las two photographs: Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.
The pupae are built in the shape of an igloo, with the hinged exit at one end.

Locally called "plumillas" (tiny feathers) the stinging hairs that cover them cause in burning sensation on contact with skin.



Choreutid moth, Brenthia hexaselena, a mimic of jumping spiders.
El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Arctiid moths, Syntomeida sp. Guanahacabibes Peninsula, western Cuba.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Joseph Burgess).



Arctiid wasp-mimic moths, Empyreuma affinis. Near Marigot, north-western Saint Martin, Lesser Antilles.
This species is a factitious member of the hymenopteran genus Pepsis.


Wasp-mimic moth, species undetermined. Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 


Mating pair of wasp-mimic moths, Horama pretus. Guana Island, British Virgin Islands.


Arctiid moths, Halysidota sp., caterpillar and adult. Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.

 


Some moths, like this noctuid, are highly mimetic of dead bark and leaves, as a cryptic mechanism.

El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Wasp-mimic moth, species undetermined. Windsor, north-central Jamaica.

 


Caterpillar and moth, Xanthopastis timais antillium. Carolina, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Caterpillar of the noctuid moth, Gonodonta nitidimacula. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

Order Mantodea: Mantids

 

    Praying mantids are closely related to termites and cockroaches. They seem to have arisen during the Cretaceous period from a sort of predatory cockroach. They are all predatory insects with modified, raptorial front legs that serve to strike and hold their prey, normally other insects. Many species have a penchant for cannibalism, and in a few, the male mates only once in its life, as the female chews on its head, which makes the male ejaculate its sperm.

 

    Mantids are the only insects which can freely swivel their heads in any direction without moving the rest of their bodies. Their capacity to follow nearby movement in such a way, and their tendency to look at a person right in the eye (focusing on the movements of your eyelids, really) gives them a strange air of intelligence.



Callimantis antillarum, male. Cabo Rojo State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.
Mantids are extremely visual insects and their accompanying behaviors are sometimes mammal-like, even eerily antropomorphic.

A few of the thousands of ommatidia that compose their huge eyes are always oriented towards the onlooker,
giving the impression of pupils that always follow the observer. (Here it is the small dark dot on the eye).
Among arachnids, the [also highly visual] jumping spiders possess somewhat similar behavioral traits.


    The murderous front legs, which open and close like switchblades on their hapless victims, are held when in repose in a position that paradoxically earned them the epithet of "praying". In fact, "mantis" is a Greek word that translates as "prophet". Their mouthparts are actually very small, and the animal must hold its prey firmly with its front legs while devouring it.




Mantids, Callimantis antillarum, male and female.
First photograph: Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: Cabo Rojo, south-western Puerto Rico.

In spite of their markedly different appearances, mantids are related to crickets and grasshoppers.

The first pair of legs is modified into hunting weapons devised to capture their prey - usually other insects - with deadly accuracy and speed.


Callimantis antillarum. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.
First two photographs: male. Last two photographs: female.

Ghost mantid, Gonatista grisea. From the Maricao Forest, western Puerto Rico.
First photograph: male.
Next two photographs: female.

The species in this genus camouflage themselves against the lichen-covered bark of rain forest trees.



Gonatista sp., nymph. From the Maricao State Forest, western Puerto Rico.



Mantids are fastidiously clean animals. The female cleanses it's front legs and head after a meal.
From the Maricao State Forest, western Puerto Rico.

 

Mantid, Stagnomantis domingensis. Enriquillo National Park, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

Order Neuroptera: Antlions and Their Kin

 

    This is an order of predatory insects that includes some long-legged species that hand themselves from leaves in order to capture any passing victim. When Another insect touches one of the legs, these snap shut, and the attacker sucks the bodily fluids of its prey.

 

Antlion lairs, species undetermined. Caja de Muerto Nature Reserve, off southern Puerto Rico.

The larval stages of these fierce little insects build cone-shaped holes in sand. Whatever small prey falls into such will pay with their lives.

 

Antlion, possibly Myrmeleon sp. Eggleston, south-central Dominica, Lesser Antilles.

Their fierce carnivorous larvae build funnel-shaped sand traps at the bottom of which

they lie in wait for any hapless victim that falls in it.



Antlion, Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.



Lacewing, species undetermined. Guajataca, north-western Puerto Rico.
 


Lacewing, probably Chrysoperla sp. Valle Nuevo, central Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Miguel Angel Landestoy).



Lacewing, Chrysoperla rufilabris. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colon Archilla).


Mantispa sp. Gustavia, Saint Bartholomew, Lesser Antilles

Members of this group of neuropterans resemble tiny mantids, both in their appearance and in their hunting techniques.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Karl Questel).



Owlfly, species undetermined. First photograph: Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.

Second photograph: Barranquitas, central Puerto Rico.


Order Odonata: Dragonflies and Damselflies

 

    The ancient group composed of dragonflies and damselflies dates back to the Carboniferous period. The largest known flying insect is from that geological age: Meganeura monyi, a primitive dragonfly measuring more than 60 centimeters in wingspan. All adult odonates are agile fliers and are predators of other insects. Some species are the fastest recorded insects, reaching aerial speeds of almost 60 kilometers and hour. However, their larvae (nymphs) are aquatic, and feed on small insects, tadpoles, and even small fish. Their mandibles possess an unique structure and are articulated to the bottom of their hads. From there, they can be shot at tremendous speeds to grab their victims.


Suborder Anisoptera: Typical Dragonflies


    True dragonflies have huge compound eyes that are in contact with one another and, indeed, cover almost the entire surface of the head. Another trait that distinguishes them is the way the hold their wings when they are perched. At such instances, the wings rest in an open position, similar tho those of an airplane.

    Dragonfly nymphs are short and chuncky in appearance, and swim by ejecting streams of water from their gills located in their rectum.

    Anisopterans are generally rather large insects. The largest species, and one of the biggest insects on Earth, is Anax strenuus,  the "pinao" from the Hawaiian islands. Its wingspan measures up to 19 centimeters.



The gigantic eyes of dragonflies allow them to possess enjoy almost 180-degree range of sight.
This is Perithemis domitia. San Juan Botanical Garden, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Roseate skimmer, Orthemis macrostigma, male, sleeping at night on a liana. Juncos, east-central Puerto Rico.

 

Orthemis schmidti, male. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.



Dragonfly, probably Orthemis sp. Slopes of Mount Scenery, central Saba, Lesser Antilles.



Dragonfly, possibly Orthemis sp. Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.


Great pondhawks, Erythemis vesiculosa, females.
First photograph: Mount Hartman Bay, south-western Grenada, Lesser Antilles.
Second photograph: Cartagena Lagoon Nature Reserve, south-western Puerto Rico.



Red setwings, Dythemis rufinervis. First photograph: male, San Juan Botanical Garden, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: female sleeping on a leaf at night. Windsor, north-central Jamaica.

 

Amber-wing dragonfly, Perithemis domitia, male. San Juan Botanical Garden, San Juan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Dragonfly, Scapanea frontalis, male. Bahoruco Mountains, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Pedro Genaro Rodriguez).

 


Mangrove darner, Coryphaeschna viriditas, female. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.
(Photographs courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).

 

Dragonfly, Gynacantha nervosa, female. El Rosario, south-western Puerto Rico.



Pale-green darner, Triacanthagyna septima.
El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Dragonfly, Scapanea frontalis, male. Central Mountain Range of the Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.



Dragonfly, Micrathyria aequalis.
San Juan Botanical Garden, north-eastern Puerto Rico.


Dragonfly, species undetermined. Los Haitises National Park, northern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

Dragonflies, Erythrodiplax berenice, male and two females.
First two photographs: Lajas, south-western Puerto Rico.
Third photograph: Parque del Milenio, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Antillean dragonlet, Erythrodiplax justiniana. Canovanas, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Dragonfly, Erythrodiplax sp., female. Los Haitises National Park, north-eastern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

 

Dragonflies, Erytrhodiplax umbrata.

First photograph: Mount Hartman Bay, south-western Grenada, Lesser Antilles.

Second photograph: Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.


Suborder Zygoptera: Damselflies


    Damselflies are closely related to dragonflies. However, they can be immediately distinguished by the way the hold their wings at rest: most hold them folded along their backs. Also, their compound eyes do not come into contact, and are instead widely separated, each on a side of the head.

    As is the case with many dragonflies, many of these other insects are frequently hued with brilliantly iridescent colors. Their larvae are elongated, in distiction to those of dragonflies, and may swing with undulations of the bodies, like fish. Although they are much more slender than most dragonflies, some zygopterans can have very wide wingspans. Megaloprepus coerolatus, the Central American giant damselfly, has a wingspan of 19 centimeters.


Rambur's forktails, Ischnura ramburii.
First photograph: male. Caño Tiburones Nature Reserve, northern Puerto Rico.

Next three photographs: female. Tortuguero Nature Reserve, northern Puerto Rico.


Citrine forktail, Ischnura hastata, male. Tortuguero Nature Reserve, northern Puerto Rico.

Antillean bluet, Enallagma coecum, male. San Juan Botanical Garden, San Juan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 


Damselflies, Telebasis vulnerata, males.
First photograph: Ciales, central Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: San Juan Botanical Garden, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Damselflies, Telebasis dominicana. Tortuguero Nature Reserve, northern Puerto Rico.


Damselflies, Angia concinna, male and female. Vermont Nature Reserve, south-western Saint Vincent, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Lesser Antilles.


Damselfy, Lestes forficula. Gorda Peak National Park, central Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
This species seems to frequent areas well away from open water. Members of this family (Lestidae) hold their
wings partly open when at rest, instead of closed together over their backs, as is the case of other damselflies.



Jamaican bromeliad damselfly, Diceratobasis macrogaster, nymph. Barbecue Bottom, north-central Jamaica.
This species breeds almost exclusively in the abundant bromeliads of the area.


Order Orthoptera: Grasshoppers, Katydids, Crickets, and Their Kin

 

    Grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets are herbivores (a few species of crickets are predators of other insects) that feed mostly on leaves of grasses and trees.


    Except for the unrelated cicadas and very few other taxa, only the members of this insect order rely on sound for attracting mates. Particularly the males of nocturnal species, like crickets and katydids, emit sounds produced by the stridulation of certain body parts, especially the front pair of wings. Correspondingly, many orthopterans possess good hearing, although they hear through systems that are only analogical to the eardrums of vertebrates. Such organs are located on their abdomens, thoraxes, or even their legs.

 

    Many species of this order are important parts of the menu of many predators, and rely on mimicry to escape them, frequently resembling their substrate of rocks, leaves, or lichen.


    The family Acrididae (and related families) contain the true grasshoppers and locusts, characterized by their short antennae and primarily diurnal behavior. Some species of large grasshoppers turn gregarious under certain weather conditions, and migrate through vast areas, eating everything vegetable in their path. These are the "locusts" that can devastate man's crops in especially bad years. Several species of Schistocerca locusts inhabit the West Indies, although they seldom exhibit swarming migratory behaviors. Swarms of the African S. gregaria have sometimes crossed the Atlantic, landing in some of the Lesser Antilles and northern South America. It might have been these occasional incidents those which gave rise to the species of the Western Hemisphere, or vice-versa, if the group is of American origin.


 

Oedipodine grasshopper, Sphingonotus haitensis haitensis. Near Santa Cruz de Barahona, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

This species mimics pebbles in xeric areas.



Sphingonotus haitensis haitensis. Nymph and adult. Quebradillas, north-western Puerto Rico.



Sphingonotus haitensis varies in color depending on the substrate chosen by the egg-laying female. Two females and a male.
Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.


Grasshoppers, Orphulella punctata.
First photograph: Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: Piñones State Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Grasshoppers, possibly Schistocerca nitens, male. Grand Etang National Park, central Grenada, Lesser Antilles.

An Old World relative of this species, S. gregaria, has been famous for thousands of years, through the Bible.

 

Grasshopper, possibly Schistocerca pallens, female. Grand Etang National Park, central Grenada, Lesser Antilles.



Grasshoppers, Schistocerca serialis.
First photograph; Ciales, central Puerto Rico.

Second photograph: Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.


Grasshopper, Schistocerca sp., male. Guana Island, British Virgin Islands.



Grasshoppers, Tergoceracris cayey, nymph and mating adults. Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.

Some of these small to tiny grasshoppers possess vestigial wings. The nymph mimics a piece of lichen.
The genus is endemic to Hispaniola and Puerto Rico.



Tergoceracris cerropunta. Toro Negro State Forest, central Puerto Rico.



Tergoceracris luquillensis. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Tergoceracris guajataca. Florida, central Puerto Rico.



Tergoceracris sp. Maricao State Forest, western Puerto Rico.


Grasshopper, Caletes apterus.
First photograph: Grand Etang National Park, central Grenada, Lesser Antilles.
Second photograph:
Mount Soufriere, northern Saint Vincent, Lesser Antilles.

As the epithet expresses, this species is wingless.

 

Tetrigid grasshoppers, Paratettix freygessneri, male and female. Piñones State Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
Species of this group are often found nead water, to which they take readily in order to escape by swimming.


    The family Gryllidae, the crickets, are closely related to katydids. Although the are mostly terrestrial, a good number of species have taken to the trees. They are distinguished from katydids in holding their closed wings flat on their backs, in their tarsi divided into three segments, and in the straight and thin ovipositors of females.

 

Anostostomatid cricket, probably Licodia sp., male. Near Pie Pol, Bahoruco Mountains, south-western Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.

The males of this burrowing species have asymmetrical jaws, suggesting a specialized diet or an aptitude for digging.

 

Podoscirtine crickets, Tafalisca sp., females.
First photograph: El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: Florida, central Puerto Rico.



Tafalisca sp. molting into adulhood. Los Haitises National Park, northern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.


Arboreal cricket mimicking lichen, species undetermined.Toro Negro State Forest, central Puerto Rico.

 

Arboreal cricket, species undetermined. Blue Mountains, Jamaica.

 


Arboreal cricket nymph, Carylla sp. Cabo Rojo State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.



Trigonidiinid arboreal cricket, species undetermined. San Juan Botanical Garden, San Juan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Cricket, Acheta sp., female. Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.


Cave cricket, Amphiacusta sp., male. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

With its extremely long legs and antennae, members of this genus look somewhat like spiders.

 

Cave crickets, Amphiacusta sp., male and female. Ciales, central Puerto Rico.

 

A male Amphiacusta cricket (below) courts a female. Cabrits National Park, north-western Dominica, Lesser Antilles.



Male Amphiacusta cricket. Slopes of Mount Scenery, central Saba, Lesser Antilles.



Amphiacusta sp., male. Los Haitises National Park, northern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.


Arboreal cricket, Oecanthus sp., male. Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-eastern Puerto Rico.



Arboreal cricket, species undetermined. El Yunque National Forest. north-eastern Puerto Rico.


    One of the most varied and interesting family of orthopterans in the West Indies and elsewhere is Tettigoniidae: the katydids or long-horned grasshoppers. The first name is the onomatopoeia of the calls of some North American species. The second makes allusion to the tremendously long antennae of many taxa among them. Many katydids are green in color, and some mimic leaves in order to avoid being perceived by predators. Others resemble bark or lichens with the same purpose. Katydids are not true grasshoppers but are, rather, modified crickets. Unlike the primarily diurnal grashoppers and locusts, katydids are almsot always nocturnal.

 

    Characteristically, members of this family possess their hearing organs on the front legs, on their "tibias" (the term is applied analogically in reference to the legs of chordates). The group has four segments on their tarsi, and females have long, sickle-shaped ovipositors.

 

    Most varieties in the Antilles are medium-sized and even tiny, but a few rain forest species are huge and impressive affairs. A number of species, like a few in the Puerto Rican genus Borinquenula have vestigial wings (though still functional for sound production in males) are are black, yellow, and red in color. This color combination is aposematic in other organisms, and perhaps these katydids are toxic and unpalatable to many predators.


Leaf-mimicking katydid, Microcentrum triangulatum, female. Culebra Island, off eastern Puerto Rico.
This individual has recently mated. The gelatinous object protruding from its rear end is called a "spermatophylax",

   a nutrient-rich present that the males leaves behind and which helps the female produce her eggs.

Leaf-mimicking katydids, Phoebolampts sp., females.
First photograph: Guajataca State Forest, north-western Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: El Yunquer National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Phoebolampta sp. Maricao State Forest, western Puerto Rico.


Leaf-mimicking katydid, Phoebolampta sp., female. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

The brownish organ seen on the front tibia is the insect's "eardrum", with which it detects the sound vibrations of the males' calls.


Leaf-mimicking katydid, Philophyllia sp., male. Eggleston, south-central Dominica, Lesser Antilles.

 


Leaf-mimicking katydids, Anaulacomera sp., females.
First photograph: Ciales, central Puerto Rico.

Second photograph: Florida, central Puerto Rico.

 

Leaf-mimicking katydid, species undetermined, female. Vermont Nature Reserve, south-western Saint Vincent, Lesser Antilles.

 


Katydid, Polyancistrus sp., male. Central Mountain Range of the Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.


Katydids, probably Nesophyllidium fulvicosta, female nymph, adult female, and detail of abdomen.

The loud call of this species is very characteristic of the forests of Dominica. The rising whistles on the background are the calls of the frog Eleutherodactylus martinicensis.

Eggleston, south-central Dominica, Lesser Antilles.



Katydids, Nesonotus sp., male and female. Eggleston, south-central Dominica, Lesser Antilles.

 


Katydids, Nesonotus superbum, female nymph and adult female. Kingstown Botanical Garden, south-western Saint Vincent, Lesser Antilles.



Katydids, Nesonotus tricornis.
First two photographs: males, slopes of Mount Scenery, central Saba, Lesser Antilles.

Third photograph: female laying eggs. Pic du Paradis, central Saint Martin, Lesser Antilles.
Its calls sound like short chirps.



Katydid, Mastophyllum sp., female nymph. Eggleston, south-central Dominica, Lesser Antilles.



Katydid, Mastophyllum sp., male.Eggleston, south-central Dominica, Lesser Antilles.
 

Katydids, Nesocnemis discoidalis, molting and adult females. Windsor, Jamaica.

 


Pseudophylline katydid, species undetermined, female. Barbecue Bottom, north-central Jamaica.



Pseudophylline katydid, species undetermined, female. Barbecue Bottom, north-central Jamaica.

Conocephaline katydids are so named after the conical "horn" that many species have on their heads.

This is Borinquenula martorelli. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Conocephaline katydid, Conocephalus cinereus, female. Camp Santiago, south-eastrn Puerto Rico.

 

Conocephaline katydids, Neoconocephalus triops.
First photograph: male. Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: female, San Juan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
The female is mimicking a dead leaf by color and stance. It is missing its back legs, probably due to a predator's attack.

The difference in color is not gender-related.

 

Conocephaline katydid, possibly Neoconocephalus triops, male. Grande Anse, south-western Grenada, Lesser Antilles.



Conocephaline katidid, undescribed species. Los Haitises National Park, northern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.



Conocephaline katidid, probably Neoconocephalus sp.,  in ecdysis. Camp Santiago, south-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Conocephaline katydid, Borinquenula caritensis, male. Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.

 

Conocephaline katydids, Borinquenula martorelli, males.

El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Conocephaline katydids, Borinquenula minor, males.
First photograph: Juncos, east-central Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.

Third photograph: Toa Baja, north-eastern Puerto Rico.
Its calls are heard in some lowland areas on the eastern third of the island.



Some katydids are predators of other insects. The spiny front legs and huge eyes of this female Phlugis sp. help it locate and capture its prey.
First photograph: San Juan Botanical Garden, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

Second photograph: Fort Buchanan, Guaynabo, north-eastern Puerto Rico.


Order Phasmatodea: Walking Sticks

 

    Walking sticks, related to grasshoppers and crickets, depend on immobility in order to avoid their predators. As the name implies, these insects mimic the twigs of the plants they feed on. Many species go farther in their visual deception, their bodies and legs exhibiting spines and dermal folds that make them appear as if they were covered in fungi, lichens, or mosses. To complete their crypsis, most species are nocturnal. While they spend the daylight hours staying put on their perches, they will walk freely - if still slowly - about and feed of the leaves of a variety of plant prey.

 

    Many species have merely vestigial wings and are flightless. Other species derive from apterous ancestors and have reacquired the power to fly, though sometimes only one of the sexes possesses functional wings. This phenomena seems to have arisen independently in many taxa within the order. Most often, females are larger than males by several orders of magnitude.

 

    Phasmatids are a fascinating group that is widespread in the Caribbean, and some forms can exhibit very high population densities in some environments like cloud forests. Several genera, like Lamponius and Diapherodes, include many species that are endemic to single insular banks and even to small regions within an island.

 


Walking stick in the process of ecdysis, Diapherodes achalus, female. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Some species of walking sticks are highly polymorphic. These are Lamponius portoricensis.
The variations in shape and color correlate different specific habitats and vegetation substrate.

First photograph: Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.
Last two photographs: El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Mating pair of walking sticks, Lamponius portoricensis. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Lamponius sp., female. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.

 

Walking stick, Lamponius nebulosus, nymph. El Yunque National Forest, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Walking stick, Lamponius sp., female. Monte Pirata, Vieques, off south-eastern Puerto Rico.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Mel Jose Rivera).



Lamponius sp. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Alfredo Colón Archilla).



Walking stick, Bacteria ferula, female. Eggleston, south-central Dominica, Lesser Antilles.



Walking stick, Bacteria yersiniana, males.
First photograph: Carite State Forest, east-central Puerto Rico.
Second photograph: Parque del Milenio, San Juan, north-eastern Puerto Rico.



Walking sticks, Bacteria sp. Monte Pirata, Vieques, off south-eastern Puerto Rico.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Mel Jose Rivera).

Walking sticks, Malacomorpha sanchezi, female and mating pair. Guanica State Forest, south-western Puerto Rico.

This species relies on more than camouflage for defense. It seeks shelter under rocks and tree bark during the day.

Additionally, the pore seen on each side of the thorax ejects a foul-smelling, irritating liquid when the animal is disturbed.



Malacomorpha androsensis, female. Great Inagua, The Bahamas.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Joseph Burgess).

 

Walking sticks, Malacomorpha macaya, mating pair. Pic Macaya National Park, south-western Haiti, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Eladio M. Fernandez).



Walking stick, possibly Malacomorpha spinicollis, female nymph. Barbecue Bottom, north-central Jamaica.



Mating pair of walking sticks, Malacomorpha cyllarus. Portland Ridge, south-central Jamaica.
(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Joseph Burgess).



Walking stick, Haplopus evadne, male. Pic Macaya National Park, south-western Haiti, Hispaniola.

(Photograph courtesy of Mr. Eladio M. Fernandez).



Walking stick, Haplopus sp., female. Parque Nacional del Este, eastern Dominican Republic, Hispaniola.



Walking stick, Haplopus micropterus, male. Cambalache State Forest, northern Puerto Rico.



A tiny flying walking stick, possibly Haplopus sp.
Maricao State Forest, western Puerto Rico.

 

Walking stick, Clonistria bartholomeae, female. Kingstown Botanical Garden, south-western Saint Vincent, Lesser Antilles.



Walking stick, Clonistria sp., female. Vermont Nature Reserve, south-western Saint Vincent, Lesser Antilles.



Walking stick, Clonistria sp., male. Barbecue Bottom, north-central Jamaica.



Walking stick, Agamemnon iphimedeia, male. Guajataca, north-western Puerto Rico.


Order Trichoptera: Caddis Flies and Their Kin

 

    Caddis flies are insects with aquatic larval phases, in this respect resembling the unrelated dragonflies. They are small organisms, and both adults and their larvae are preyed upon by many freshwater predators.

 

Caddis fly, possibly Chimarra sp. Camp Santiago, Salinas, south-western Puerto Rico.