Insect Memories

Friday was my last day in the Entomology department as a funded HLF biology curatorial trainee, so I decided to photograph some neotropical specimens. Dmitri still wants me to come back as a research volunteer to work on the Dermaptera collections, so I’ll be doing that until I can find paid work.

For now, however, this post is about some of the specimens I’m familar with as a result of spending my childhood in Belize. I figure it’s a nice way to close the book on my time here.

Morpho butterflies. Probably one of the most famous neotropical insects, though many people do not realize there are many different species. “Morpho” is the name of the genus, and not all Morpho butterflies are blue. Some, such as Morpho laertes in the second picture, are white. The shining blue colour is not caused by pigmentation, but by the way the scales on the Morpho’s wings reflect light at different layers. The resulting effect looks almost holographic.

Buprestidae, or jewel beetles are among the largest families of Coleoptera, with close to 15,000 species worldwide.

Automeris moths from the family Saturniidae. This one is Automeris io. The caterpillars of these moths have urticating hairs all over them that can deliver a nasty sting! My mother closed her hand around one once when she was gardening and had a caterpillar-shaped welt on her hand for a few days.

Giant Helicopter Damselfly: I saw one of these last time I was in the tropics. As their namesake indicates, they do indeed look like hovering helicopters. These insects feed on spiders and hunt by pulling the spiders out of their webs by using their strong forelegs.

Well, that’s all for now. I have two days of my traineeship left. I’m still trying to decide whether to continue with this blog or create a new one.


About Gina Allnatt

I have just finished a year long traineeship as a Biology Curator at Manchester Museum. I am currently a research and curation volunteer in the Entomology and Botany departments. -Gina Allnatt
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