A view down to the forest floor from within the rainforest canopy.

The Ghoul Earth Guide to Creepy Crawlies

Cool Earth field trips involve some of the most unusual, unnerving and ugly bugs that some of us have ever seen. Armed with thick socks, mosquito nets and insect repellent strong enough to power a small plane, we’ve gathered some photos taken over the years by our teams on the ground.

It’s not all ladybirds and butterflies, but despite our hebejebes, insects are a vital part of the forest ecosystem, and need their habitat to be protected.

big brown and yellow caterpillar with dark brown horizontal stripes

First up, it’s a caterpillar. This delicious, squishy creature is found in Cool Earth’s Asháninka partnership in the Amazon rainforest. It’s roasted over an open fire, but sometimes eaten alive too. Yum yum…

Beautiful green iridescent beetle with two large orange circle ringed with light green markings on its wings.

This handsome beetle was snapped by Hannah, Cool Earth’s Programmes manager on a trip to Papua New Guinea, a country with over 300,000 species of insect.

Large bright orange very hairy caterpillar

Remind you of anyone? Here’s a clue; it causes severe headaches, fever, and feelings of general malaise. But that’s enough of Lonomia obliqua, Peru’s most poisonous caterpillar. Stay well away.

black long-horned beetle sits on a human hand. the beetle is black with brown wavy markings and long thin horns that protrude from its head

This is the long-horned beetle from the Asháninka partnership in Peru. Despite their fierce appearance, these beetles are crucial players in forest ecosystems. They eat decaying wood and return the nutrients to the living ecosystem, pollinate flowers, and act as an essential food source for other animals. Crunchy.

Millipede with alternate black and brown banding

Millipedes like this one we snapped in Peru are big contributors to the rainforest’s compost heap of soil. Slow moving detritivores, they eat decaying leaves and other dead plant matter, moisturising the food with secretions and then scraping the resulting slop in with their jaws. Schlurrp.

Are insect burgers the future?

The demand for meat, soya and other plant proteins is fuelling deforestation. Changing your diet is one of the most environmentally friendly steps you can take to reduce your impact on the world’s resources. So how about insects?

Many are calling on Western countries to catch up with Asia where protein rich bugs are already part of an everyday diet for many. The Cool Earth team is (slowly) getting on board.

Cool Earth team's reactions to eating insects