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This pretty postman butterfly was once an ugly caterpillar.
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Courtesy of Corel Photography

Insects of the Tropical Rain Forest

The title of this page is a little deceiving. We will also talk about arachnids, centipedes and other "tiny creatures" of the rain forest. So, let's get started!

The most feared and well known spider in the world resides in the jungle. Tarantulas are one of the creepiest animals you will ever see. Most species of tarantula have poisonous fangs for killing prey and for protection. Although some are life-threatening to humans, others are harmless.

Army ants are just one species of ant in the rain forest. They are called army ants because they march in a long, thick line through the jungle. They only stop when the young larvae reach pupil stage. Once the queen lays its eggs, the ants start marching again!

Beautiful butterflies fill the forest, but at one time these insects weren't so pretty. Butterflies start out as caterpillars, which tend to be a tad on the ugly side. They go through metamorphosis, which is the process of changing into a butterfly. Centipedes aren't so lucky. They don't turn into butterflies, but instead roam the forest looking for food. Some centipedes use poison to kill their prey.

Last modified May 2, 2011 by Jennifer Bergman.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA