The Importance of Insects
Often referred to as ‘the lungs of the world’, we all know that the rainforests are very important to the sustainability of our planet. But what about the amazing creatures who live in the rainforests and make them such diverse places? We’ve listed our favourite rainforest animals below, to show you why we love them so much and why they’re so important!
Giant African Land Snails
Growing to up to 20 cm in length, giant African land snails are amongst the largest snails in the world. They’ve been known to live for up to 10 years and they eat a wide range of vegetation to keep them on the move. They’re also highly important to the rainforest due to their wide-ranging diet, because they eat and decompose a lot of leftover vegetation!
Interestingly, they have two pairs of tentacles on their heads. One pair has eyes located at the very top, while the other pair acts as a nose, bearing a sense of smell. All giant African land snails have male and female organs, meaning they don’t even need to mate to reproduce because they can fertilise their own eggs.
The Praying Mantis
Named after their famous forefront legs, which are usually folded in a prayer-like position, the praying mantis is integral to the rainforest. This is because they are extremely accomplished hunters, which means they can keep down the numbers of mosquitos and flies.
They are also well-known for their huge, round eyes that sit either side of their wide heads. This gives them impeccable eyesight, but their hearing isn’t so well-developed. They have just one ear located on the underside of their stomach in front of their hind legs, so they struggle to discern the direction of different sounds in the rainforest. This makes their enormous eyes incredibly important to them.
Growing to up to 7.5 cm in length, hissing cockroaches are amongst the largest cockroaches on our planet! They also help the rainforest to keep going by eating the decaying, organic matter that falls to the floor.
While many other insects produce sounds by rubbing their legs together, these cockroaches produce their famous hissing sound by opening up slits on their abdomens and expelling air. They all hiss when they feel threatened, but only males hiss when they fight each other or defend their territory.
The Death’s Head Cockroach
The death’s head cockroach is omnivorous, which means that they will eat a wide range of foods and unusual things that they can gain nutrients from, such as animal dung and even wood. This means that they eat a lot of the left over matter that falls to the rainforest floor, keeping it clear for fellow residents and new plant life. They can also grow to around 6 cm in length, making them slightly smaller than hissing cockroaches but they are still one of the largest species of cockroaches found in the world.
Bud Wing Stick Insects
Named after their colourful, patterned wings, bud wing stick insects are integral to the ecosystem of the rainforest. They are an important source of food for their many predators, such as rodents, primates, reptiles and birds.
Interestingly, females don’t necessarily need a male to mate. They can lay eggs without male fertilisation and those eggs will then hatch into females. If their eggs are fertilised by a male, the eggs have a 50-50 chance of becoming either male or female.
Contrary to common knowledge, millipedes do not have 1,000 legs. They are born with just 3 pairs of legs, and they then grow to have around 200 pairs when they reach adulthood. Fossils also suggest that they were amongst the first animals to live on land, over 428 million years ago!
As an important food source for many birds and frogs, millipedes are integral to the ecosystem of the rainforests, meaning that a decline in their numbers could lead to declines in the populations of many other important animals too.
They may have a fearsome reputation, but tarantulas are fascinating creatures who are key to the survival of the rainforests. They’re an important source of food for their predators such as birds, snakes and some spider-hunting wasps.
Interestingly, when tarantulas feel threatened they can stand up on their hind legs, pull spiked hairs from their abdomen and hurl them in the direction of their attacker! Although tarantulas are prey for many larger animals and they tend to avoid humans as much as possible, if a tarantula managed to throw one of their hairs at you, you would get a nasty, irritating rash but nothing more.
Come Meet the Insects!
Love the sound of these amazing insects? Come meet them at our fantastic new Rainforest Ranger Display! Check out our tickets prices and find out more about the animals waiting to meet you at SEA LIFE Blackpool!