Jun 25

ARKive is working with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) to help highlight the plight of the world’s invertebrates. Through our joint Invertebrate Photography Competition, we hope to increase the availablility of invertebrate imagery for conservation purposes.

We’re looking for images of the world’s invertebrates – from snails to spiders, beetles to butterflies or corals to crabs. Show us your best photos to help promote invertebrate conservation and to be in with a chance of winning some brilliant prizes!


The winning entry will receive a two-day ticket to WildPhotos 2012!

Presented by Mark Carwardine and Chris Packham, the annual two-day event is packed full of inspirational talks from the world’s top wildlife and conservation photographers where you can learn from industry experts, hear the stories behind the spectacular images, find out about the latest technologies and join the debate on the hottest topical issues.

Other prizes to be won

  • The best images will be displayed at a special exhibition at ZSL London Zoo in August 2012. Photographers whose images are selected will receive a pair of tickets to London Zoo to attend the photographic exhibition.
  • The winner and runners up will also receive a copy of ZSL’s report on the status and trends of invertebrates.

If you’re in need of some inspiration, explore the amazing variety of invertebrates on ARKive as well as some of the fabulous entries we’ve received so far. ..

© Adrian Gonzales-Guillen, Polymita picta form iolimbata

© Adrian Gonzales-Guillen

© Madjid Momeni Moghaddam

© Madjid Momeni Moghaddam










© P. Jeganathan, weaver Ant

© P. Jeganathan

© James Reardon

© James Reardon








© Heather Hillard, red pencil urchin

© Heather Hillard

© Elyssa Kellerman, Giraffe-necked weevil

© Elyssa Kellerman

Please submit your entries directly to ARKive at the following email address: invertphotocomp@wildscreen.org.uk
The deadline to enter the competition is 20th July 2012. Entries received after this date may still be used by ARKive, ZSL and IUCN (please see further information below).

We look forward to receiving your images of the world’s invertebrates. Good luck!


Terms and conditions for use of imagery by ARKive, IUCN and ZSL

  • All submitted images will be held in the repositories at ARKive, where they are being preserved and maintained for the benefit of future generations, and made available for non-commercial awareness-raising and educational purposes via the ARKive website. ARKive does not sell photographs, but rather the ARKive website acts as a showcase for image providers, displaying copyright and contact details with every image, as well as links to each media donor’s own web activities. See ARKive’s full terms and conditions.
  • The electronic copies of the images provided to ARKive may be made available to IUCN for electronic publishing on the IUCN Red List and the Amazing Species websites.
  • IUCN and ZSL may use images in electronic press-releases and resulting news stories promoting, for example, the IUCN Red List and the ZSL report on invertebrate status and trends.
  • ZSL may use the images in its report on invertebrate status and trends to be launched at Jeju, and related exhibitions, as specified in the letter above IUCN may also use the images in, for example, reports on the IUCN Red List. Copyright holders will be contacted prior to these activities.
  • Copyright holders will be acknowledged in any use of their images.
  • The images on the IUCN Red List websites and in associated IUCN and ZSL electronic products, as listed above, will be low-resolution (no larger than roughly 480×320) and will be clearly marked with a copyright notice. In addition, the Red List website ‘Terms of Use’ will include a restriction that those wishing to republish or otherwise use the images found on the Red List website or in Red List products should contact the copyright holders directly for approval for such use. ZSL terms and conditions for website use can be viewed at http://www.zsl.org/info/legal/content/general-terms,208,AR.html


Mar 2
Dlinza pinwheel image

Dlinza pinwheel (Trachycystis clifdeni)

Species: Dlinza pinwheel (Trachycystis clifdeni)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: The Dlinza pinwheel has a line of bristles round its shell!

The exceptionally striking Dlinza pinwheel is a small species of snail that is found in only the Dlinza Forest in South Africa. Its name comes from the unusual whorl of bristles that radiate out from the edge of its shell, and resemble a Catherine wheel or pinwheel firework. The fragile, almost translucent pale-brown shell is a spiral shape with up to five whorls. In its coastal forest home, the Dlinza pinwheel can be found beneath leaves, under fallen logs, in leaf-litter and sometimes in damp, swampy areas. The Dlinza pinwheel is so rare that nothing is known of its feeding behaviour or reproductive biology.

The single forest where this species lives is officially protected, which offers some protection to this tiny snail. Nevertheless, the small and exposed nature of its home means that this rare and fascinating snail remains somewhat helpless to the changing world around it, and a single extreme weather event could potentially wipe out the whole population. More research into the ecology and behaviour of this small but captivating species may help unearth valuable information to help guide appropriate conservation action and bring the diminutive ‘pinwheel’ back from the brink of extinction.

Find out more about the organisation in charge of conserving the Dlinza forest: Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife

View the Dlinza pinwheel on ARKive.

Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author

Jan 27
American burying beetle image

American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)

Species: American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: The American burying beetle buries a whole carcass to feed its young!

The largest carrion beetle in North America, the American burying beetle is an attractive species with bright orange markings. These beetles are named for their specialised mechanism of parental care that involves providing the growing larvae with carrion upon which to feed. At night, beetle pairs will locate a suitable carcass and then cooperate to bury it in the soil, thus protecting their find from competition with other species. Once the carcass is beneath the soil, the beetles strip away the fur or feathers and produce a compact ball; the female then lays her eggs in a chamber created above the carcass. Unusually for insects, the parents both remain to provide for the larvae after they have hatched, regurgitating food for the growing grubs until they are able to feed for themselves. Roughly a week later, the larvae pupate in the soil nearby, having consumed the entire food supply; they will emerge as adults around a month later and overwinter in this stage.

The American burying beetle has disappeared from much of its former range, with one of the major causes of the decline believed to be loss and fragmentation of available habitat. This species is now being monitored, with plans to breed it in captivity and reintroduce it in the future.

Find out more about the American burying beetle from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

View images of the American burying beetle on ARKive.

Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author

Nov 23

Survival logo

Queen Alexandra’s birdwing Survival character

Name: Queen Alexandra’s birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae)


Status – Endangered (EN)

Wingspan – Up to 28 centimetres

Interesting Fact:

An enormous wingspan of up to 28 centimetres earns this magnificently vibrant insect the title of being the world’s biggest butterfly. Highly specialised, it feeds and reproduces on a single species of toxic vine, making the caterpillars distasteful to predators, and if consumed can cause severe vomiting.

Where am I found?

Found only in the lowland rainforests of northern Papua New Guinea, east of the Owen Stanley Mountains, Queen Alexandra’s birdwing has an extremely small range.

Queen Alexandra’s birdwing photo

What do I eat?

Both the adult butterfly and the caterpillar feed only from the vine species Aristolochia schlechteri.

Queen Alexandra’s birdwing photo

How do I live?

Queen Alexandra’s birdwing lays a single egg on the underside of one of the vine leaves and after 11 to 13 days the caterpillar hatches and eats almost constantly, growing rapidly. The vine contains a toxic substance which, although not poisonous to the caterpillar, makes it distasteful to potential predators, and may cause severe vomiting.

The caterpillar’s rapid growth is accompanied by six moults, in which the caterpillar grows new skin and sheds the former, before forming a chrysalis, in which metamorphosis takes place over a period of 40 to 45 days.

Queen Alexandra’s birdwing photo

Why am I threatened?

As one of the world’s most beautiful butterflies, Queen Alexandra’s birdwing is extremely attractive to collectors. Fetching thousands of dollars per butterfly, this rare species has been severely over harvested.

However, the greatest threat to Queen Alexandra’s birdwing is the loss of its lowland rainforest habitat. Historically, forests were cleared for farming and logging, and a vast area was destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mount Lamingtonin 1951. Today, the main cause of forest loss is the expansion of the palm oil industry, and the development of rubber and cocoa plantations.

Queen Alexandra’s birdwing photo

Play Survival today!

Survival is available for free now on the App store and Android Market.

Find out more about ‘Survival’ or watch the ‘Survival’ promotional video on YouTube.

Feb 15

Another Valentine’s day has passed us by and it seems as though invertebrates have been overlooked. If our spineless friends had the capability to feel emotion, this would surely be a blow to their fragile self esteem.

One of my personal favourite invert groups are the crayfish. At a time of year when couples are demonstrating love for one another by dancing in the manner of a bird of paradise, or showing commitment by fusing with their other half in the in the style of a deep sea anglerfish, these enigmatic Arthropods are simply left out.

In the spirit of ARKive’s Love Species Campaign, I want more people to appreciate crayfish for what they are, so here is why I love them.

Freshwater lobsters

You might have noticed that crayfish strongly resemble lobsters in appearance, and that’s because they are, in fact, very closely related. Both groups belong to the infra-order Astacidea.

Unlike lobsters however, which are marine crustaceans, crayfish only inhabit freshwater systems such as streams and rivers. Generally speaking, crayfish are also a fair bit smaller than your average lobster, but some have been shown to reach truly massive sizes.

Owing to their riverine existence, crayfish are often referred to as freshwater lobsters, neatly leading on to my next point.

Freshwater white-clawed crayfish photo

Funny names

As a group, crayfish are rather cosmopolitan. They exist on a variety of continents and so people have labelled them with a host of interesting names. Focusing on the English speaking world, ‘craw’ seems to be a preferred prefix in the USA. Names there range from crawfish, crawdad and crawdaddy, all the way over to mudbug and my personal favourite; spoondog.

As always, Australia takes the cake for far-flung nomenclature, referring to a variety of crayfish species as yabbies.

Yabbie crayfish photo

The yabbie - crayfish are amphibious, able to traverse stretches of land between freshwater systems such as rivers and streams.

Crayfish plague my heart

Crayfish around the world are susceptible to a nasty fungal disease known as crayfish plague. Europe is currently seeing the worst effects, with the plague being highly lethal to native species such as the now Endangered white-clawed crayfish.

What’s worse, European species are being outcompeted by an invasive called the American signal crayfish. Not only is it larger and more efficient at catching food, but the American signal is resistant to plague. It acts as a carrier for the disease as it spreads across the continent, obliterating native European crayfish when entering new freshwater systems.

Common carp being fed on by an invasive species; the American signal crayfish

American signal crayfish feasting on a common carp. This species acts as a carrier for crayfish plague.

There you have it. I love crayfish because they look like lobsters, have a variety of strange names (bonus name; grave digger) and are threatened by a lethal fungal disease.

It’s all too easy to overlook less aesthetic species in favour of fluffier ones, but I hope this will inspire you to spare a thought for invertebrate life at this lonely time of year.

Robert Morgan, ARKive Media Researcher


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