French Guiana

Located on the northeast coast of South America, French Guiana is an integral political unit of France. Its area is nearly six times that of Connecticut and most of its 250,000 inhabitants live on the Atlantic coast. The interior lowland tropical forests remain largely undisturbed and sparsely inhabited. The forests experience a distinct December–June rainy period (100 inches per year, more than 250 centimeters) and a July–November dry season. Because of its climatic and geographical variation, French Guiana retains one of the world’s highest diversity of flora and fauna.

 

Insects of French Guiana

 

The South American nation of French Guiana has a largely intact wilderness of tropical forest that supports a highly diverse flora and fauna. Two expeditions, in October 2010 and September 2011, of a group of entomologists associated with the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History visited the Kaw-Roura Nature Reserve to sample its insect biodiversity. Based at the Amazon Nature Lodge on the Kaw Mountain mesa, at an altitude of almost 1,000 feet (300 meters), the group’s members spent two weeks at a time collecting insects around the clock using nets, tent traps and bait traps by day, and UV traps or intense mercury vapor lamps at night. Their efforts are illustrated here, with highlights of the arthropod fauna of French Guiana that they encountered.

 

The expedition participants included: medical entomologist Dr. Leonard Munstermann, Curator, Yale Peabody Museum Division of Entomology, and Senior Research Scientist, Yale School of Public Health; Peabody curatorial affiliates William Krinsky,Victor DeMasi and Mike Thomas; and Peabody exhibits technician Maishe Dickman. Also participating were Giff Beaton, Orianna DeMasi, Suzanne Krinsky, Roanna Metowski and Maya Munstermann.

A break in mesa vegetation provides a view north to the Atlantic Ocean.

Vines, tall trees and dense understory are characteristic of the virgin tropical forest of French Guiana.

Left to right: Leonard Munstermann, William Krinsky and Victor DeMasi with daytime collecting gear.

A quartz halogen lamp on a sheet is useful for night collecting: Maishe Dickman selects specimens from the array.

Giff Beaton (left) and Michael Thomas (right) use photography to document insects.