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Protocol 4 - Predatory Insects

Dr. Orlando Tobias Silveira (MPEG) • E-mail:
Protocol researchers:
East Pará - Dr. Orlando Tobias (MPEG)
Maranhão - Gisele Garcia Azevedo (UFMA)

Groups of interest and diversity of species evaluated per grid:

Coleoptera: Scolytidae: 50 species;

Curculionidae: 30 species;

Hymenoptera: Vespidae: 100 species.

Biological role of the group: Beetles (Coleoptera) represent around third of the animal diversity described above - approximately 350,000 different species! There are around 30,000 registered species of beetles in Brazil alone, distributed across 109 families (Costa 1999). The Curculionidae is known as the weevil or snout beetle, representative of the family with the highest species diversity among living things, around 60,000 known species in the world! (WIBMER: O’BRIEN, 1986, MARVALDI; LANTERI, 2005). The majority of the species are relatively small (0.5 to 50 mm), and living exclusively within plant matter (BONDAR, 1951; ANDERSON, 1993), playing an important role as a pollinating agent (GENTY et. al., 1986; GOTTSBERGER, 1988; SILBERBAUER-GOTTSBERGER, 1990; PRADA et al., 1998; HENDERSON et al., 2000; OLIVEIRA et. al., 2003; FRANZ; VALENTE, 2005), as pests (SILVA et al., 1968; O’Mera, 2001; ANDERSON, 2002), and in the biological control of weeds (ANDERSON, 1993).

Vespidae are generally predators of insects and other types of arthropods, especially caterpillars. The majority of the species are solitary, the Eumeninae being the most diverse of the subfamilies, consisting of around 3000 different species around the world. The Polistinae has around one thousand species worldwide, especially in the tropical and subtropical regions, with the Vespidae being the most dominant in Neotropical regions (CARPENTER, 1991; RICHARDS, 1978). All species are eusocial, frequently living in very populous colonies.

Collection Technique 1. Malaise Traps

The Malaise trap is a sampling technique that intercepts insects in full flight. The insects hit the septa or roof of the trap while flying up into the direction of the sun or light, falling into the collection cup (killing flask) positioned at the upper extremity of the trap (ALMEIDA et al, 1998). Bear in mind that the objective here is to carry out a Rapid Assessment Program of the grid, the Malaise being a technique for collecting flying insects, there therefore being no need to use a trap, or various traps, in each of the 30 plots (250m x 40m) of the grid (5 km x 5 km). In this manner, the grid consisting of 30 plots can be sub-sampled through a sampling design consisting of 15 or 9 plots, through even distribution. Each Malaise trap will have a white roof with black septa and sides, including a special collection cup with 70% content alcohol, used for killing and subsequent fixation of the insects. Furthermore, the alcohol acts as an attractive essence for many species of Coleoptera, especially the Scolytidae, functioning as bait. The traps will be emptied of all collected material every 5 days.

Sampling unit: the sampling unit will be the contents of 5 or 10 days of collection cup material from each Malaise trap, in accordance with the taxonomic group.

Sampling design: At least 9 traps will be set up across 9 regularly spaced plots, so that the entire grid is evenly covered (Figure 1). It is important to adopt one of the alternatives shown in figure 1 in situations where not all of the plots are sampled, for ensuring accurate comparison with other sets of data, from this or other programs. The collection cup sample will be taken from each Malaise every 48 hours, i.e. a sample being the result of 48 hours of collection within each Malaise trap. Each trap will remain in the plot (250 m x 40 m) for a period of ten days, resulting in five samples being taken per plot, with 75 samples being taken per grid (5 km x 5 km).

Figure 1. Sampling design alternatives for a 30 plot grid.

Collection technique 2. Active search for Wasps

Thirty linear paths of 1000 meters in length will be set out within each grid. The collections will be carried out on (1) the trails and (2) the banks of rivers and streams, by means of boat with oars (as applicable). Wasp species will be recorded based on the individual specimens captured with an entomological net and by the colonies identified within these samples, making note of the location of each record made along the trails. Specimens from each colony will be collected with a net, attached to aluminium poles where necessary.

Sampling unit: A route of 1000 meters in length. Projected effort for each area (5 km x 5 km).

Total samples: 30 routes per grid.

Sample design: the routes will be set out along the trails with the intention of covering as much ground as possible within the grid and within the identified microhabitats.

A single 20-day excursion with four collectors will take place for carrying out a RAP within each grid.

Additional environmental data: Type of forest, climatic data (rainfall, temperature and relative humidity), position of the moon and geographic coordinates.

Method of preserving the collected material: A batch of no more than ten individuals per Curculionidae, Scolytidae and Vespidae species, per sample. To be mounted using entomological pins and then labeled in the normal way, for conservation in dry collections. Other batches will be kept in glass receptacles containing 70% alcohol and then labeled in the normal way for wet collections. Other types of insects will also be preserved, per sample, in wet medium. All specimen types will be identified using a stereo microscope. Labels must also have the following information: the sample number, the number of the plot and the geographic coordinates. The samples will be numbered independently per plot, each plot having samples numbered 1-5. The collected specimens will be deposited within INPA, MPEG and other trustworthy Amazon depository collections.

Restrictions on activities that could prejudice protocol development: Physical activity near the traps or any type of trap disturbance, either by touching the roof, septa, collection cup or the ropes that support the structure.


ALMEIDA, L. M.; COSTA, C. S. R.; MARINONI, L. Manual de Coleta, Conservação, Montagem e Identificação de Insetos. Ribeirão Preto: Holos, 1998. 78 p.

ANDERSON, R. S. Weevil and plants: phylogenetic versus ecological mediation of evolution of host plant association in Curculioninae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada, v. 165, p. 197-232, 1993.

ANDERSON, R. S. The Dryophthorinae of Costa Rica and Panama: Checklist with keys, new synonymy and descriptions of the new species of Cactophagus, Mesocordylus and Rrhodobaenus (Coleoptera, Curculionoidea). Zootaxa, v. 80, p. 1-94, 2002.

BONDAR, G. Síntese biológica dos curculionídeos brasileiros. Boletim Fitossanitário, v. 5, n. 1-2, p. 43-48, 1951.

CARPENTER, J. M. Phylogenetic relationships and the origin of social behavior in the Vespidae. In: ROSS, K. G.; MATTHEWS, R. W. (Eds.). The Social Biology of Wasps. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991. p. 7-32.

COSTA, C. Coleoptera linnaeus, 1758. In: JOLY, C.A.; BICUDO, C. (Orgs.) Biodiversidade do Estado de São Paulo. Síntese do conhecimento ao final do século XX. São Paulo: FAPESP, 1999. p. 115-122.

FRANZ, N. M.; VALENTE, R. M. Evolutionary trends in Derelomini flower weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionidae): from associations to homology. Invertebrates Systematics, v. 19, n. 6, p. 499-530, 2006. 

GENTY, P. et al. Polinizacion entomofila de la palma africana en America tropical. Oleagineux, v. 41, p. 99-112, 1986.

GOTTSBERGER, G. The reproductive biology of the primitive Angiospermes. Taxon, v. 37, p. 630-643, 1988.

HENDERSON, A. et al. Pollination of Bactris (Palmae) in an amazon Forest. Brittonia, v. 52 n. 2, p. 160-171, 2000.

MARVALDI, A. E.; LANTERI, A. A. Key to higher taxa of South Amarica weevils based on adult characters (Coleoptera, Curculionidae). Revista Chilena de História Natural, v. 78, p. 67-87, 2005.

O’MEARA, B. Bacterial Symbiosis and Plant Host Use Evolution in Dryophthorinae (Coleoptera, Curculionidae): a phylogenetic study using parsimony and Bayesian analysis. 2001. Thesis (PhD.) – Harvard University, 2001.

OLIVEIRA, M.S.P.; COUTURIER, G.; BESERRA, P. Biologia da polinização da palmeira tucumã (Astrocaryum vulgare Mart.) em Belém, Pará, Brasil. Acta Botanica Brasilica, v. 17, v. 3, p. 343-353, 2003.

PRADA, M. et al. Efectividad de dos espécies Del gênero elaeidobius (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) como polinizadores em palma aceiteira. Bioagro, v.10, n.1, p. 3-10, 1998.

RICHARDS, O. W. The social wasps of the Americas, excluding the Vespinae. London: British Museum of Natural History, 1978.

SILBERBAUER-GOTTSBERBER, I. Pollination and evolution in palms. Phyton, Horn, v. 30, n. 2, p. 213-233, 1990.

SILVA, A. G. et. al. Quarto catálogo dos insetos que vivem nas plantas do Brasil, seus parasitos e predadores. Parte II. Insetos hospedeiros e inimigos naturais. Rio de Janeiro: Ministério da Agricultura,  1968. v. 1. p. 1-622.

WIBMER, G. J.; O’BRIEN, C.W. Annotated Checklist of the weevils (Curculionidae sensu lato) of south America (Coleoptera). Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute, Gainesville, v. 39, p.1-563, 1986.


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