Insects in the Rain
March 9 2016

On the 11th of February, entomological sessions were undertaken at our livingstone project in Zambia, oftentimes in the rain.  Activities included making new sweep nets for grass dwelling insects, setting traps and identification of insects captured.  34 new species have been added to the reference library during the month.  Of these, 16 have been identified to species level, and 25 to genus level, with the remainder at order level. Project volunteers have been having fun learning how to sorting samples into their respective orders, helping them to appreciate research, but also to learn the basics of identification.  We couldn’t say for sure whether they enjoyed the rain! 

During an early morning session of the 26th of February, we came across two beautiful insects; a blister beetle from the genus Mylabris and a moth (Nephele comma).

About the Entomological Survey

Insects are an important natural resource in ecosystems, and especially in forests where they make up a dominant part (greater than 80%) of the biodiversity of forest fauna.  They play a significant role in pollination, nutrient recycling, as pest control agents, and they are involved at every level of trophic networks.  The presence or absence of certain species, or rather of certain corteges, makes it possible to verify whether an ecosystem is functioning properly or not. In this way, insects can be good indicators of ecosystem quality and management impacts on the forest habitat.  However, knowledge of insect diversity within the Zambezi Basin is not well known, except for a few species.  A survey of insects at our Livingstone project site commenced in early December.  The initial aim is to create a reference of species found in the area, before looking at spatial variances in species diversity related to floral diversity.  It is hoped that a better understanding of the inter-relationship between insects and trees will assist in improved forest management.

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