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Chihuahuan Desert Invertebrates: 3


Subphylum Hexapoda, Class Insecta

The insects are the largest and most successful of the terrestrial animal taxa. We have time to look only briefly at a few of these: the Coleoptera (beetles), Diptera (flies), Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps), Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), and Orthoptera (grasshoppers and relatives).


This huge group of insects has expanded into an incredible sweep of habitats and ecological niches. Various species are predators, others herbivores, and the dung beetles even utilize feces as food for their young. The website myrmecos.net has a variety of very nice beetle photographs.


Flies include not only the common house fly so familiar to us, but mosquitos, robber flies, and crane flies—to mention only a few. The desert has its share of them (some might say more than its share). A variety of flies images by Alex Wild will give some idea of the variety.


Again, a wide variety of ants, bees, wasps, and hornets are found in the Chihuahuan Desert. Pictures of a many kinds of ants (most not desert species) are online at myrmeco.net. William and Emma Mackay's The Ants of North America is available online from the UTEP's Laboratory for Environmental Biology.


A checklist of the Chihuahuan Desert butterflies of the El Paso/Ciudad Juárez region is presented on the Centennial Museum pages. The USGS website, Butterflies of North America, is an invaluable source for further information about butterflies. A small, but exquisite, collection of photographs are at the mrymecos.net website.


Grasshoppers and their relatives have long played a part in the arid and semiarid regions of the world, as the plagues of locusts in the Bible and in Mormon history attest. We might mention here only the cricket, Stenopelmatus, often known as Jerusalem Crickets, but in the Chihuahuan Desert more commonly as Niña de la Tierra (Child of the Earth).

Last Update: 26 Jun 2006
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