These are invertebrates
with segmented legs, and are undoubtedly the most common group of animals
in the mangrove. All have a chitinous exoskeleton and their foregut and
hindgut are also chitin-lined. There are more arthropod species than all
other animals put together. In mangroves, three subphyla are especially
commonthe crustaceans, chelicerates
and insects. All are relatively poorly studied, and opportunities for scientific
Insects are the most diverse group of organisms alive, consisting
of more than half of all living species. Although widespread on land
and in freshwater, they are less common in the sea. Being such a large
and complex group, there are exceptions to many attempts at definition!
But it is true of all insects that they have a single pair of antennae
and three pairs of legs. Adults have a body divided into three parts:
head, thorax and abdomen.
An invertebrate with wings is definitely an insect, but not all insects
have wings. Many mangrove insects, particularly the ground-dwelling
ones, are wingless.
Though numerous in mangroves, insects are less obvious to the casual
visitor than crabs or molluscs. Their diversity is too immense for
even this entire book and little is known about many of them.
The most common groups of insects are the beetles (Order Coleoptera),
moths and butterflies (Order Lepidoptera), flies (Order Diptera),
bugs (Order Hemiptera), ants (Order Hymenoptera), termites (Order
Isoptera), and crickets and grasshoppers (Order Orthoptera).
Springtails (Order Collembola) are common in mangroves and are placed
here for convenience although not all biologists regard them as true
In mangroves, beetles and moths are among the most noticeable.
The young of insects are called caterpillars, maggots, grubs, wrigglers,
etc., but are all more easily called larvae! These are more frequently
seen than the adults. However, it is difficult to know what a larvae
becomes after metamorphosis. The only sure way is to rear them to
the adult stage.
Quite often, all you ever see of an insect is the damage it leaves
behind! In some cases, nevertheless, this is sufficiently characteristicacting
like a "graffiti signature"! Looking out for the damage
could then lead you to the insect itself.