21 Types of Insects in the Amazon Rainforest

Types of insects in the Amazon rainforest
Photo by Isabella Jusková

When most of us think of animals in the Amazon jungle, the amazing megafauna that comes to mind are things like giant snakes, parrots, jaguars, monkeys, and toxic frogs.

It turns out that the largest percentage of occupants are different types of insects in the Amazon rainforest, and their sheer quantity is staggering!

The Amazon basin is home to about 2.5 million distinct species of insects; more specifically, only one acre of rainforest is home to up to 70,000 different species of insects.

It is home to the greatest number of butterfly species found anywhere in the world (7,000 of the world’s 20,000 butterfly species), and it is estimated that ants make up 30% of the total animal biomass in the Amazon basin!

The Amazon is home to a wide variety of bizarre and fascinating insect species, many of which appear plucked from the set of the most outlandish science fiction film.

We have produced 21 types of insects in the Amazon rainforest.

1. Bullet Ant

Bullet Ant
by Arthur Chapman is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Although its name suggests otherwise, the bullet ant is not a particularly aggressive insect.

On the other hand, when it comes to protecting its nest, it is quite ferocious.

This insect, which is between 0.7 and 1.2 inches (18 and 30 mm) long, has a powerful sting that can reach 4.0 or higher on Schmidt’s sting pain index.

This ant is used in the rituals that initiate warriors into the Sateré-Mawé indigenous tribe in Brazil, which is quite a peculiar practice.

They weave the ants into gloves, and youngsters wear them for anything between five and ten painfully slow minutes.

To accomplish the goal of the ritual, these sessions are performed around twenty times for several weeks or years.

2. Blue Morpho Butterfly

Blue Morpho Butterfly
by Armando Maynez is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The blue morpho’s wingspan is anywhere from 5 to 8 inches, making it one of the world’s largest butterflies (12.5 to 20 cm).

Because of the minuscule scales on the backs of their wings, they have a brilliant, iridescent blue coloration.

When its wings fold, the underside of the morpho’s wings has a drab brown tint with many eyespots, providing it with concealment from potential predators such as birds and insects.

When the blue morpho is in flight, the colors of the contrast—bright blue and dull brown—flash, giving the impression that the morpho is constantly appearing and disappearing.

3. Tetragonisca Angustula

Tetragonisca Angustula
by Carlos Eduardo Joos is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This stingless bee is one of the very types of insects in the Amazon Rainforest. Its length ranges from 0.16 to 0.2 inches (4-5 mm).

Narrower wing venation and bristles on its leg are two further distinguishing features of this bee species.

Additionally, special caste army bees are significantly larger than their worker bee counterparts.

In general, the behavior of Tetragonisca angustula concentrates upon producing offspring and colonizing a new nest.

In addition, the stingless bee is one species that has expanded over the neotropics the most.

It is well known for pollinating 30–80% of the plants in its biomes, and it feeds on a variety of plant species.

4. Army Ant

Army Ant
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Army ants are types of insects in the Amazon rainforest. It has a body that is either black or dark brown, and its abdomen is orange in color.

The length of major army ants can reach up to 0.5 inches (about 1 cm), whereas the length of minor army ants can reach up to 0.25 inches.

Their heads are a lighter shade of orange, and their legs are a darker shade of orange. They have a darker, more extended mandible.

These particular insects living in the Jungle go through two phases of activity: the mobile and immobile phases.

The first development phase begins ten days after the queen has laid eggs and will continue for around 15 days.

The army ant consumes not just other species of ants but also many other insects, reptiles, frogs, and birds.

5. Leafcutter Ant

Leafcutter Ant
by samiamx is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This tropical leaf-chewing ant is among the smallest insects in the Amazon Rainforest. It has a reddish-brown and spiky body, and its legs are very lengthy.

The queen is the largest of the leafcutter ants, measuring between 1.2 and 1.6 inches (30 and 40 mm) in length.

The worker ants are between 0.4 and 0.8 millimeters long, with the worker being the smallest of the three.

The leafcutter ant is also known as the parasol ant because it carries leaves above its head. There are four phases in this ant’s life cycle: the egg, the larva, the pupa, and the adult.

Although they are skilled leaf cutters, these ants do not eat the leaves they chop up.

Instead, the ants bring the leaves back to their nest, which serves to cultivate fungus, a food source for the ants.

6. Bombus Transversalis

Bombus Transversalis
by Jared Shorma is licensed under CC BY 4.0

The Bombus transversalis bumblebee is a species of bumblebee that is found exclusively in the Amazon Basin.

The surface-level colonies constructed by the workers on the rainforest floor are the most noticeable aspect of this species.

This insect, which measures between 0.8 to 1 inch (20-26 mm) in length, is a rare species of bumblebee that has evolved to survive in hot and humid tropical environments.

It uses walking pathways similar to ants to forage for food, which is unusual because most bees forage via flight.

It collects resources and food that other bumblebees have abandoned along the various pathways that radiate out from the nest, which it then patrols.

7. Orchid Bee

Orchid Bee
by bob in swamp is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Brilliant metallic coloring, primarily consisting of green, blue, and gold is a distinguishing feature of the euglossini bees, which measure 0.5 inches (13 millimeters) in length.

The male orchid bees use their specially modified legs to gather and store various volatile chemicals throughout their life.

These compounds are then released at their display places in the forest understory, where matings are known to take place.

Because of their propensity to sniff fragrant substances, orchid bees are also known as perfume bees.

It is especially simple to identify the males since they hover over the plants in quest of the most alluring scent.

Orchids have developed one-of-a-kind adaptations that capitalize on this behavior to guarantee pollination.

These orchids emit aromas appealing to bees, including vanilla, cinnamon, and decaying meat.

8. Brazilian Owl Butterfly

Brazilian Owl Butterfly
by Kristof Zyskowski & Yulia Bereshpolova is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This particular species of butterfly is one of the types of insects in the Amazon rainforest.

Its wings have patterns with large eyespots that are reminiscent of the eyes of an owl.

The Brazilian owl butterfly is one of the insects found in the Amazon jungle. Its wingspan can range from 2.5 to 8 inches (65 to 200 mm).

This butterfly is most active in the evening and will frequently only fly a few meters at a time to avoid being captured by birds that could try to eat it.

Some of these butterfly species have the behavior of creating leks to facilitate the process of mating.

The Brazilian owl butterfly also prefers feeding on fermenting fruits such as pineapple, mango, and banana, as well as the feces of large mammals.

9. Titan Beetle

Titan Beetle
by berniedup is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The titan beetle is a whopping 6.5 inches (16.7 cm) in length, making it one of the largest insect species.

This specific beetle is not only among the giant insects found in the rainforest but also among the largest worldwide.

Titans will use their spine, which is sharp, and their powerful jaws to defend themselves against any predators that might seek to cause them harm.

When provoked, they typically emit a hissing sound and then attack by biting.

When it comes time to mate, the adults will often use sensing compounds known as pheromones to locate their mates while in the air.

These Amazonian insects consume the rotting trees’ interiors at the time when the wood is most vulnerable.

10. Hercules Beetle

Hercules Beetle
by JKiesow is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

One of the most recognizable types of insects in the Amazon rainforest is the Hercules beetle.

The males of this bug have an extensive set of pincers that resemble horns.

They also have a black head and a brown or green body with black dots. On the other hand, the body of a female Hercules beetle is often dark brown to almost black.

During the rainy season, mating takes place, and males typically compete with one another for the attention of females.

After mating, the female will lay up to one hundred eggs in the ground and undergo complete metamorphosis.

In the Amazon Rainforest, there are many different kinds of insects, but the larvae of this beetle typically eat rotting wood as their primary source of nutrition.

On the other hand, adults will eat fruits such as apples, peaches, and pears regardless of whether or not they are fresh or rotten.

11. Brazilian Cockroach

Brazilian Cockroach
by Nicholas Doumani is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

With a length of between 3 and 4 inches, the Brazilian cockroach is one of the largest types of insects in the Amazon rainforest (7.5 to 10 cm).

Their bodies are oval-shaped and flat, and adults have two sets of wings.

The forewings have a leathery texture and a color similar to a light brown, while the hindwings are papery and have a lot of space.

Its development occurs in three stages: the egg stage, the nymph stage, and the adult stage.

These nocturnal insects that live in Brazil often feed during the night because that is the only time they are active.

As an omnivore and, more specifically, a scavenger, its regular diet consists of decomposing debris, dead insects, other animals, fruits, and even the waste products of birds and bats.

12. Bush Cricket

Bush Cricket
by pete. #hwcp is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Katydids are only one of the over 6,400 species of insects in the Amazon Rainforest.

This particular bushcricket species have larger legs, long antennae resembling threads, and an overall body size ranging from 0.1 to 0.6 centimeters (0.4 to 2.4 inches) (1 to 6 cm).

On the other hand, the length of a matriarchal Katydid can reach up to five inches (twelve centimeters).

The bulk of these jungle insects only lives for approximately a year or less outside of the tropical zone, in contrast to the rainforest, where they have a little longer lifespan.

This is because the tropical zone contains more favorable conditions for their survival. Katydid’s diet comprises mainly consuming grass and leaves.

13. Blushing Phantom Butterfly

Blushing Phantom Butterfly
by In Memoriam: Ecuador Megadiverso is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Its scales on its wings and, at times, the prism-like ridges on the surface of its scales are responsible for producing its vibrant hues, making it one of the most stunning types of insects in the Amazon rainforest.

Other Cathaeria species, such as the pieta Aurorina, have thin scales or no scales on their wings, revealing the transparent membrane beneath.

Crepuscular in its activity, the blushing phantom butterfly is more likely to be seen at dusk than at any other time of day.

The flight of this species of butterfly is low to the ground; also, the beat of its wings is more profound and slower.

The primary source of nutrition for the blushing phantom butterfly is the fluids produced by decaying fungi or rotting palm fruits found on the forest floor.

14. Elephant Beetle

Elephant Beetle
by ShutterSparks is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Male elephant beetles often have two horns, one emerging from the top of their head and the other emerging from the top of their prothorax.

This type of beetle typically has a black coat coated with fine microscopic hair, with the hair density being specifically greater on its elytra.

This beetle is nocturnally active in the rainforest, like many of the other insects that live there.

It is typically able to keep a high internal body temperature, mainly while foraging, even though it consumes the sap from particular trees and ripening fruits that have fallen to the ground.

15. Lantern Fly

Lantern Fly
by Pasha Kirillov is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Another strange creature on our list of types of insects in the Amazon rainforest is the lantern fly.

The name of this peculiar insect came from an erroneous idea that their heads were bioluminescent. However, this has proven to be false.

Although the lanternfly is a member of the Fulgoridae family, it is unknown why it possesses a peculiar head shape.

Some entomologists believe that it serves the purpose of warding off potential predators by imitating the head of a snake or lizard.

If that doesn’t work, the lanternfly can expand its wings to display two significant circular patterns closely resembling a jaguar’s or an ocelot’s eyes.

Then, if nothing else works, the lanternfly might resort to more direct ways by squirting a foul-smelling liquid into the face of its aggressor. It’s probably best to ignore this chap.

16. Rhinoceros Beetle

Rhinoceros Beetles
by ibsut is licensed under CC BY 2.0

These formidable beetles belong to the family of scarabs and are capable of reaching a length of up to 6 inches.

They get their name from the enormous, menacing horns that protrude from their heads.

They can lift up to 850 times their body weight, making them the animal on the planet with the highest proportional level of strength.

The male beetles engage in vicious fights for the available females, lifting and tossing one another to the ground in a manner similar to that of armored wrestlers.

Despite their intimidating appearance, these beetles are actually docile and pose no threat to humans; as a result, many people in Asia keep them as pets.

17. Flannel Moth Caterpillar

Flannel Moth Caterpillar
by In Memoriam: Ecuador Megadiverso is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The larva of a flannel moth may look like a toupe that has been carelessly discarded, but in reality, it is an insect that feeds on flannel.

In the northern sections of the Amazon, these hairy little critters forage for food beneath the leafy canopy.

Even in their adult size, these adorable creatures have a lot of furs and are really cute.

Be careful not to be misled by this little creature’s seemingly innocuous look; hidden beneath its fluffy yellow fur are poisonous spines that, if they come into touch with the skin, can cause extreme pain, nausea, burning, rashes, chest trouble, and difficulty breathing.

The pain caused by these spines is comparable to that caused by a broken bone or blunt force trauma; therefore, One should be careful when they come across this insect.

18. Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis - Animals With More Than 2 Eyes
by rumpleteaser is licensed under CC BY 2.0

There are many different types of insects in the Amazon rainforest, and the mantis is one of them, which is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating insects found anywhere on the globe.

These vicious hunters are experts at hiding in their surroundings, making it nearly impossible to find them.

They lure their prey in with their signature ‘prayer’ position and then leap out of the shadows at fast speed to seize their unfortunate victim with their deadly claws.

These weird insects engage in peculiar mating behavior. Like many other insects and arachnids, the female of this species is far larger and more lethal than the male, and after mating, the female kills the male and consumes him.

19. Terentia Hairstreak Butterfly

Terentia Hairstreak Butterfly
by Andrew Neild, UK is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There are a lot of notable examples of symbiotic partnerships that one can discover among the insects that live in rainforests.

These connections include diverse species cooperating for their benefit.

An entomologist working at the research center of Tambopata National Park in the Peruvian Amazon discovered that the caterpillars of this species reside on tree trunks and feed on the odd yellow bulbs of a rare parasitic plant.

Surprisingly, a large number of ants are keeping watch over the caterpillars.

In order to protect the caterpillars from potential threats, the ants move back and forth across the area, and every so often, one of the ants will go and tap a caterpillar on the backside.

When touched this way, the caterpillar’s rear end exudes a drop of sweet nectar that the ants are happy to sip.

20. Assassin Bug

Assassin Bug
by Rushen! is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Other types of insects in the Amazon rainforest include the assassin bug. It would appear that the assassin bug’s level of inventiveness is without limit.

These crafty relatives of the shield insect have evolved into extraordinarily swift ambush predators and developed incredible methods for hunting prey.

They hunt ants by coating themselves with the bodies of ants that they have already killed.

Because of this, the assassin insect mimics the ant pheromones, which enables it to get near enough to the fast-moving live ants to attack them.

These clever insects chase bees by coating their forelegs in tree sap and snatching them out of the air using their sticky claws. This is one of their many innovative hunting strategies.

They then penetrate the outer shell of their unfortunate victim with a specially developed sharp proboscis and inject a potent toxin that liquefies the internal organs.

This allows the assassin bug to slurp up the horrible cocktail that they have created.

21. Glasswing Butterfly

You might be able to see these unearthly transparent butterflies flitting through the dark rainforest if you keep a sharp look out for them.

These glass-winged butterflies are a mesmerizing sight because they look like ethereal ghosts.

It’s a mystery why, yet most butterflies have transparent wings coated in multicolored scales.

If you were to remove the thin scales, the wings would be completely transparent!

Because their wings are see-through, these butterflies are extremely difficult to locate.

Regarding stealth, the glass wing butterfly ranks high among the types of insects in the Amazon rainforest.

Nevertheless, these butterflies can be lethal to any predator that manages to grab one of them.

Adults of this species aggressively seek out deadly flowers packed with pyrrolizidine alkaloid poisons and consume those blossoms as a food source.

Consequently, whoever has the misfortune to consume one of these butterflies would suffer severe liver damage or, even worse, death.

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