Insects and Other Animals in Tropical Forests

Insects and Other Animals in Tropical Forests


This chapter of the Tropical Forestry Handbook focuses mainly on insects and their impacts on plant health and productivity in tropical forests. Types of insects discussed include: Isoptera (termites), Hemiptera (sap feeding insects), Orthoptera (crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts), Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), Hymenoptera (ants, sawflies, wood wasps and gall wasps), and Coleoptera (beetles). For each order of insect, the authors include a description of their feeding and reproductive behavior, drawing a connection to its impact on plant species. They then present a variety of management options starting from preventive site and tree selection to chemical and biological treatment. The authors also discuss the reasons behind insect outbreaks and recognize climate change as exacerbating many of these driving factors.

Conclusions & Takeaways

Most insect pest outbreaks occur due to high reproductive and dispersal potential driven by an abundant food supply. While there are a variety of insect management and control strategies that can be individually effective at reducing the impact of insect outbreaks, the authors suggest taking an integrated pest management approach which involves employing preventative, monitoring, and curative measures. The authors also flag various institutional and scientific barriers that hamper local forest managers’ ability to manage outbreaks, including a lack of political support, incomplete research, and limited information exchange between regions, and use them to contextualize future trends in pest management.


Speight MR. Insects and Other Animals in Tropical Forests. In: Tropical Forestry Handbook. Tropical Forestry Handbook. Springer Berlin Heidelberg; 2016:2607–2657. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-54601-3_200.


  • St Anne’s College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK