Galapagos Insects and Invertebrates

Because the Galapagos Islands were never part of mainland South or Central America, they are inhabited by a very limited number of invertebrate and insect species. Visitors will have the best luck spotting the different species of insects after a heavy rain or at night - ship's lights particularly catch the attention of the Islands' green hawkmoth and fringed notcuid. Butterflies are usually a popular insect and are the easiest to identify by their bright colored wings. These small creatures that inhabit the islands range from the colorful large painted grasshopper, to the peculiar giant long-horn beetle. A trip to the Galapagos Islands offers amazing wildlife viewing opportunities. The following table simply offers a sample of the insects and invertebrates found on the Islands.

Key to species' class:

  • Endemic = Found only in the Galapagos Islands
  • Endemic Sub-species = Species exists in other parts of the world, but no interbreeding with the Galapagos population. The Galapagos population may evolve into a distinct species.
  • Resident = Found on the Galapagos Islands and elsewhere in the world. Breeds on the islands and elsewhere. Arrived in the Islands naturally.
  • Visitor = Does not breed in the Galapagos. Is seen on a regular basis in the Islands.
  • Introduced = Brought to the Galapagos Islands by man.

Insects and Invertebrates

SpeciesIslands Best ViewedClassCharacteristics
Galapagos Sulfur ButterflyMain IslandsEndemic Sub-speciesSmaller butterfly with bright yellow wings.
Monarch ButterflyWidespread ResidentLargest butterfly found in the Galapagos. Became residents of the islands after the introduction of the plant, milkweed.
Galapagos Blue ButterflyWidespreadEndemicVery small, light blue butterfly. Best found after a rain.
Large Tailed SkipperMain IslandsEndemicSmall brown butterfly with wings reaching up to 2 inches. Found on all main islands, but are uncommon.
Green HawkmothWidespreadEndemic Sub-speciesLarge bright green moth. Commonly found flying around ships' lights at night.
Indefatigable HawkmothSanta CruzEndemicSmall light brown moth found only in the highlands of Santa Cruz.
Fringed NoctuidWidespreadResidentLargest moth on the islands with a wingspan reaching up to 6 inches. Most commonly seen at night near lights.
Longhorn AntWidespreadIntroducedSmall ant, distinguished by its very long antennae.
Galapagos Greeneyed HorseflyWidespreadEndemicLargest fly in the islands. Common pests to tortoises, sea turtles, iguanas and humans. They bite!
Galapagos Carpenter BeeWidespread - save northern islandsEndemicThe only bee in the islands.
Yellow Paper WaspWidespread - coastalIntroducedDistinguished by striped black and yellow body. First recorded in islands in 1988, is now widespread.
Spotless LadybugMain islandsEndemicBright red, spotless ladybug. Important little insect that helps control the population of alphids and scale bugs.
Giant Long-horn BeetleWidespreadResidentLargest beetle in the islands with a pair of large and obvious pinches - nearly a 1/2 inch long.
CockroachesWidespreadEndemic and IntroducedOut of the eighteen species of cockroaches on the islands, 5 of these are endemic. Are particularly fond of ships.
Galapagos Field CricketIsabela, Santiago, San Cristobal, Espanola, Floreana, Santa CruzEndemicA large, dark cricket with a sharp, pointed back end. 8 different species of field crickets are found in the Galapagos.
Large Painted LocusWidespread - save Espanola EndemicColorful and large grasshopper. Most commonly found after a heavy rain.
Spot-winged GliderWidespreadResidentDragonfly with a bright red abdomen. Large - roughly 3.5 inches. Commonly found hunting over lagoons and ponds.
Squeak BugWidespreadResidentCan "squeak" when picked up or threatened. Has very long antennae and back legs.
Galapagos Black WidowWidespreadEndemicSolid, very dark spider with a blubous abdomen. Lives under logs or in rock crevices. Best to avoid.
Zig-zag SpiderMain islandsEndemicSpider commonly sits in the center of its webs. Has a tendency to build its webs across trails and paths.
Galapagos CentipedeWidespreadEndemicLarge centipede, reaching nearly a foot long, with a powerful set of poisonous fangs. Eats other invertebrates, lizards and small birds.
Galapagos ScorpionWidespread - Coastal and Arid Regions Endemic Sub-speciesThis small, light brown scorpion is a favorite food of lava lizards.
Galapagos flightless grasshopperWidespreadEndemicSmall grasshopper, without wings. Their brown coloring make them very hard to find.
Star SpiderWidespread - coastal regions ResidentEasily distinguished by its yellow and black shell-like abdomen. Look for this spider in mangroves in coastal regions.