How many species of insect are there in the Amazon Rainforest?

Nobody knows for certain how many species of insect there are in the Amazon Rainforest, but estimates range from 2.5 million to more than 30 million species; we can be sure it’s a very large number!

It is estimated that the total weight of all the insects in the Amazon Rainforest is greater than that of all the humans on Earth.

The high concentration of insect species in such a relatively small area is considered one of the wonders of our natural world. Insects have been evolving since long before dinosaurs roamed this planet, and they will continue to evolve long after humans are gone. In fact, there are some scientists who estimate that 90% of all known species on earth are insects.

Bullet Ant

One of the most abundant insects in the Amazon Rainforest is the bullet ant, which can be found from Mexico to Northern Argentina. Bullet ants are fierce-looking ants that have been known to deter predators by inflicting a very painful sting. In fact, these stings are often compared to being shot as they include a burning sensation as well as shock waves travelling throughout the body. Bullet Ants build their nests in fallen trees and other cavities, where moisture is plentiful for growing fungus – their primary food source.

Red-headed Centipedes

Found throughout Central America and South America, red-headed centipede bites are extremely painful because of a neurotoxin involved with disabling prey. It is thought that an indigenous group in South America used the venom on the tips of blowdarts, which was then used to immobilize prey before cooking.

Geophilid Centipedes

Geophilid centipedes are found throughout Central and South America, with many different species that vary in size – ranging from centimeters to over two feet long! Also known as soil centipedes, geophilids live underground where they eat earthworms and insects like termites. They do not have venomous jaws like other types of centipedes; instead, they produce an acidic fluid that breaks down their food before ingestion.

Amazonian Giant Centipede

One of the largest North American centipedes, the Amazonian giant centipede has been recorded at over 16 inches long. These centipedes are nocturnal, meaning they hunt at night. They mainly feed on small birds and mammals, but also enjoy a diet of termites, cockroaches, lizards, snakes, and frogs.

Mud Dauber Wasp

The mud dauber wasp is named for its nests made out of mud found in sheltered areas like large cracks in walls or barns. Mud daubers are solitary species that paralyze different types of insects to use as food for their developing larvae – it’s common for this species to prey upon cockroaches. As the adult wasps don’t eat anything during their short lifespan, they often enter into a period called “diapause ” which basically means they stop eating entirely in order to conserve energy for mating and egg-laying.

Chocolate Chip Caterpillar

This pretty-faced caterpillar is found in tropical regions throughout the world, earning it the name “globalis.” It feeds on plant leaves including chocolate plants, hence its brown coloration. Scientists are unsure if the larvae becomes a moth or a butterfly when it matures because of similar characteristics between both forms. Regardless, this species has been used to obtain natural dyes like purpurin which gives an orangey-brown color.

Cecropia Moth

The cecropia moth was once considered the largest moth in North America, but sadly populations have declined due to deforestation within their range. The cecropia moth’s caterpillar food source is the leaves of broadleaf trees like maples and elms, and they can be identified by their large size and an oblique white line running through its eye.

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle

Found in South East Asia to Northern Australia, the coconut rhinoceros beetle has a long horn on its head that curves downward towards its back. In fact, it’s the only species of the rhinoceros beetle family found in Australasia – all other members can be found in Africa or Madagascar, so this species is sometimes considered a “living fossil.” Coconut rhinoceros beetles mainly feed upon decaying organic matter but have been known to destroy crops in Sri Lanka when populations explode.

Bush Crickets

These crickets are found throughout the forests of Central and South America, living in trees and under leaves to stay protected from high humidity levels. Bush crickets can be identified by their broad appendages that often look like small antennae sticking out from their head. The female bushcricket has strong jaws lined with spikes for protection – she uses these to fight off other females who compete for access to males.

Orchid Mantis

Orchid mantises are so named based on their bright colors and petal-like appearance used for camouflage when waiting to ambush prey. Despite their appearance, orchid mantises are predators just like any other mantis species, but they do not have a reputation as fierce hunters. They eat mostly insects such as flies.

Glasswing Butterfly

The glasswing butterfly has the highest proportion of air to bodyweight out of all known butterfly species! This lightweight characteristic gives it an advantage in humid areas where flying is difficult. Glasswing butterflies feed on rotting fruit and animal dung.


There are over 900 tarantula species that can be found throughout Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Africa. They’re actually not related to spiders – they make up their own order called “theraphosa.” Tarantulas usually prey upon invertebrates like crickets or grasshoppers, but larger adult specimens have been known to eat small mammals like mice! Be careful if you encounter one though because these guys pack a painful bite with venom fangs capable of breaking human skin.

Tiger Beetle

A tiger beetle looks almost exactly like its namesake! It’s a fast runner, strong jumper, and can be found throughout the Americas ranging from Canada all the way south to Argentina. Their preferred prey are other insects, but they will eat pretty much anything that moves.

Spotted Lanternfly

Spotted lanternflies are a member of the “planthopper” family, insects that suck plant sap from leaves. Even though spotted lanternflies have been found only in Asia and Africa so far, it is currently considered one of the top 100 invasive species in the world. Currently, its range is limited to Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the United States, but these guys can cause a lot of harm to agriculture because they feed on many different crops including grapes, peaches, apples, and hops.

Here’s why:

Giant Cicada

Cicadas have two sets of wings – an upper set that covers their body like a shell called tegmina, and a lower set that flutters while flying. Giant cicadas get their name from their large size and strong jaws – they can produce a very loud sound when they’re distressed, something like nails on a chalkboard.

Leaf-Footed Bug

Leaf-footed bugs are members of the “true bug” family – insects that have piercing and sucking mouthparts. They also have two sets of wings, but their front set is thickened and leathery in appearance. Leaf-footed bugs use their hind legs to cover their eggs with spines for protection from ants, similar to turtle hatchlings. These guys eat seeds, fruits, vegetables, shrubs, vines, corn, various plants – basically anything they can sink their beak into!

Assassin Bug

As their name suggests, assassin bugs are ambush predators that feed on other insects. Their piercing-sucking mouthparts are strong enough to pierce the exterior of whole animals, including humans. Assassin bugs use their front legs to grab prey and hold them in place while feeding.


Leafhoppers are plant-feeding insects that use their strong mouthparts to pierce and suck the juice from leaves. This piercing action can cause deformation in the leaf, such as spotting, curling, or cupping. They also excrete excess fluids which can make leaves look shiny and wet.


An antlion is a type of “doodlebug” – an insect that creates a pitfall-like trap when it buries itself in sand or soil. You can find them around beaches or in wooded areas in the summertime. When something falls in the pit they dig, they leap up to grab their prey with their pincer-like jaws.

Rain Frog

You’ll find rain frogs living in Central America and northern South America – they’ve got bumpy skin and warty crests which allow them to breathe through their skin. They can even live underground! If they’re not living in the ground, they’ll burrow into the leaf litter or under vegetation near a water source. Rain frogs eat small invertebrates like worms and tiny snails that they find with their long, sticky tongues.


Hairstreaks are found all over the world, even in Australia! They’re called hairstreaks because of their “mohawk” crest that runs down their backs. The orange color on their wings also looks like hair! Hairstreaks live mostly on fruit, but they’ll sometimes eat flowers and leaves.

Sphinx Moth

Sphinx moths are extremely strong fliers, capable of flying up to 35 kilometers (more than 20 miles) at a time. Males can detect female pheromones from more than 3 km away with their large feathery antennae – they then fly through the air to find her. Sphinx moths produce a sweet nectar that some people drink as an intoxicant.

White-lined Sphinx Moth

White-lined sphinx moths get their name from the white line on their forewings. They’re often mistaken for hummingbirds, even though they don’t feed with their beaks as these guys do! Instead, they use a long proboscis to drink nectar and sap from different flowers.

Flannel Moth Caterpillar

Flannel moths are so fluffy because they have fluff on their antennae, legs, and abdomen. The larvae of flannel moths are called puss caterpillars because they look like tiny kittens! They’re covered in dense white hairs which grow overtop of an orange layer. If you disturb them, they’ll roll up into a ball to protect themselves.

Noctuid Moth

The noctuid, or owlet moth, is a type of “armyworm”. They get this name because they often migrate in huge swarms and devour crops. Noctuids lay their eggs in the ground and their larvae eat leaves for about two months before they pupate.

Tetragonisca angustula

Tetragonisca angustula is a species of wasp that’s found throughout the rainforests in Central and South America. These guys are also called “stink wasps” because they smell like rotting fish when threatened! Like most other wasps, tetragonisca angustula uses chemoreceptors located on its antennae to identify other insects by their smell.