Entomology


The Levy Preserve is home to a large diversity of arthropods such as insects, spiders, centipedes and crabs. Arthropods are extremely important members of the ecosystem and provide a number of vital ecological services such as providing food for birds, bats, lizards and frogs, pollination of flowers, assisting in the breakdown of dead organic matter and even helping to control nuisance insects such as mosquitoes which are a favorite prey item for spiders! 

The various habitats occurring within the Levy Preserve (coppice forest, mangrove, freshwater wetland, edible history garden) offer specialized habitats for many different kinds of arthropods. For example, the freshwater wetland hosts a diverse assortment of dragonflies that can be seen constantly patrolling the water surface, and many aquatic insects such as whirligig beetles, backswimmers and water boatmen are visible making their home within the vegetation just below the water’s surface. The coppice forest is home to many kinds of butterflies, important pollinators of many of the Preserve’s species of flowers. Some common examples include the Bahamas Swallowtail (Papilio andraemon), Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae), Julia Heliconian (Dryas iulia) and Long tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus).

Ongoing research on Arthropod Diversity is conducted by Dr. Paul De Luca of the University of The Bahamas. His studies have documented 308 species of Arthropoda in  22 orders. In fact, in 2013 a new species of insect was discovered at the Preserve - a katydid, a close relative of grasshoppers and crickets. Males rub their front wings together to produce a mating song to attract females, and this species was first detected when two scientists walking Ethan’s Tower Loop trail at night heard its distinctive song and were able to track it down by following the sound to a singing male located on a Thatch Palm! Its scientific name is Erechthis levyi (named after Leon Levy) but we also call it the “blue-faced” katydid because of its striking turquoise colored face. More information about its discovery can be found by clicking this link: New insect species discovered at The Preserve!

An article was published in the Journal of Orthoptera Research.

According to Dr. De Luca, “This find – a new species to science – is a reflection of how much there is still left to learn about insects in The Bahamas, and it only highlights the incredibly important function of habitat preservation. We are definitely protecting many species that we don’t even know about yet.”‚Äč

 
Erechthis levyi

Examples of the species can be viewed in the prepared insect collection at the Gift Shop at the Welcome Center. 

Future research will focus on surveys within the Permanent Forest Plots to assess:
Differences in seasonal arthropod communities
Differences between communities on different tree species within a single Plot
Differences in communities between Plots
Differences between communities in varying micro-habitats (i.e. ground, tree and canopy) within a single Plot


Gasteracantha cancriformis
Spiny orb-weaver


Nephila clavipes
Golden orb-weaver 


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