Entomological Museum in Leon
Entomology is the scientific study of insects. With more than a million documented species and an estimated number of between six and ten million extant species, insects are among the most diverse group of animals on earth and can be found in virtually any terrestrial environment. The Entomological Museum in the city of León is a private educational facility dedicated to the study of Nicaraga’s insects. The museum displays a fascinating collection of insect species that are found in Nicaragua, with three permanent exhibitions highlighting the diversity of scarabs, diurnal butterflies and nocturnal butterflies.
In addition to the museum’s permanent exhibitions, it regularly exhibits species that have been gathered in Nicaragua’s reserves, many of which have been sent to the museum for research purposes. Here insects are examined, identified and documented, before being preserved and either stored or displayed. To date the museum contains up to 500,000 specimens, representing more than 10,000 species. Based upon the number of insect species recorded in neighboring Costa Rica, experts estimate that there may be as many as 250,000 insect species in Nicaragua. If this is the case, there is still much work to be done by local entomologists, and each new discovery is greeted with enthusiasm.
The work of the Entomological Museum is funded by a number of sources; including the various national parks and the international environmental organization, Friends of the Earth. The 10,000 species that have been discovered in Nicaragua thus far have been documented in a book called ‘Insects of Nicaragua’, in which the taxonomy, common names, geographic distribution, natural enemies and diet are detailed. The museum offers an insect identification service that is open to all, and its library is home to some 30,000 books and articles, as well as computerized information, on this fascinating topic.
The museum organizes regular field trips to study insects in their natural habitat. One of the destinations that provides plenty of subject matter to study is the biological station of Domitilla near the city of Granada. This provides varied terrain, including tropical dry forest, dry natural forest re-growth on reclaimed agricultural fields, and the aquatic systems of Lake Granada. Other field trip destinations include The Bartola Station on the Rio San Juan near the town of El Castillo, and the picturesque Selva Negra (Black Forest) with its landscape of mountains, cloud forests and coffee plantations.
While it may not be a dream career to most people, entomology is a vital field of study that reveals much about the state of health of the beautiful planet we call home. The Entomological Museum in León fulfills its important role in promoting the study and understanding of the insects of Nicaragua.