8 No 2
survivors of time: the horseshoe
tips on insect watching
the landward mangrove fringe
a walk in the past
fat worries of common
of the park
of the park
a nature journal
choo-toh get ten
senior education officer
Over a million
species are described, and millions more exist. They are remarkably
adapted to living everywhere on land, in the air and in fresh water.
In the Asian mangroves, insects markedly dominate all life forms.
are the most abundant and diverse group of animals on earth.
Leaving the Visitor Centre, first time insect scouts may be disappointed
at the apparent scarcity of other insects.
If you could
stop walking for a while to look closely at the surrounding vegetation,
you will soon see insects crawling on leaves or flying about. just
be patient and observant, know when, where and how to zoom in on
their likely hideouts, and the amazing, bizarre world of insects
will be unveiled before you.
truth is, these tricky little creatures can hide or camouflage
themselves very well amongst the vegetation.
At Sungei Buloh Nature Park, visitors are otten greeted by the more
flamboyant of these six-legged arthropods.
Amidst the incessant chorusing of the cicadas, the colourful buttertflies
flutter around the butterfly trail, the solitary bumble bee buzzes
amongst flowers, and the dragonflies glide swiftly or hover over
the lotus pond.
of animal species recorded
in Asian Mangroves (Modified from IUCL 1983)
to find insects
The actively growing, more nutritious or palatable parts of
plants, e.g., shoots, buds, young/semi mature leaves, flowers,
fruits, seeds, veins on underside of leaves.
Around their homes, e.g., ant nest, termite mounds or tracks,
cases of bagworms.
Where damage or abnormalities occur, e.g., leaves distorted,
rolled, webbed or folded, holes, cuts, burrows, stunting,
wilt, colour change, black sooty mould.
Near traces of insects, e.g., cast skin, faeces, waxy or sugary
secretions, silky web, egg or pupal cases.
In fresh or brackish water, under leaf litter, rocks, fallen
logs, in/on mud or soil.
to find insects
Generally throughout the year, but some are abundant only
when food supply and environment favour their multiplication.
For day-active insects, e.g., pollinators and many leaf feeders,
at most times of the day, especially late morning and late
For nocturnal insects, e.g., moths, cockchafers and other
beetles, mostly at dusk or just after sunset.
Do not look for insects right after
rain when foliage is still wet.
to get close
to watch and study insects
Wear clothes of neutral colors or shades of green, not gaudy
colours, or black unless you like mosquitoes.
Bring a 10x hand lens, or 8-20x eye lens for examining small
insects, or binoculars for examining those perched high up
or far away.
Bring along a camera with tele-macro lens for photographic
Approach active, flying insects quietly and slowly, minimizing
body movements and air vibration. Avoid casting shadows over
them and remember to keep clear of insects which sting.
If necessary, carefully capture active flying insects in a
clear container for closer examination before releasing them
back to where they are found.
Having found insects, never miss the chance of observing their
social behaviour, hunting techniques, feeding habits, home
building activities, and last but not least, the myriad of
their colours and structures that enable them to escape or
survive the attack of their natural enemies.
Parker, S.1992. Insects. Dorling Kindersley
Preston-Mafham, R and K, Preston-Mafham. 1996. The
Natural History of Insects. The Crowood Press.
Sterry, P. 1997. Insects - A Portrait ot The Animal
World. Todtri Productions Limited.
Stokes, D. W. 1983. Stokes Guide to Observing Insects.
Little Brown and Company.