a publication of Sungei Buloh Nature Park

Vol 8 No 2
Aug 2001

survivors of time: the horseshoe crab

insect study
tips on insect watching

the landward mangrove fringe

landmark invasion
a walk in the past

fat worries of common

Allan Teo
long-lasting companion
of the park

young naturalists
of the park

a nature journal
javan munia
insect study
by choo-toh get ten
senior education officer
Insects are the most abundant and diverse group of animals on earth.

shield bug
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.

Leaving the Visitor Centre, first time insect scouts may be disappointed at the apparent scarcity of other insects.

The truth is, these tricky little creatures can hide or camouflage themselves very well amongst the vegetation.
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.

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.

animal taxa
Non-polychaete worms
Number of animal species recorded
in Asian Mangroves (Modified from IUCL 1983)

tricky little creatures

where to find insects
on plants

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 other habitats
In fresh or brackish water, under leaf litter, rocks, fallen logs, in/on mud or soil.

when 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 afternoon.

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.

how 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 record.

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.

what to observe
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.
reference guide
Parker, S.1992. Insects. Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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.
© Sungei Buloh Nature Park