Nairobi Park Diary: The insect invasion

BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL: An emperor caterpillar . Photo/GARETH JONES
BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL: An emperor caterpillar . Photo/GARETH JONES

There is a small world called the Insect Kingdom that most people do not take time to properly observe. For most people, insect encounters are mostly negative – like when a bug gets onto you, or if mosquitoes are biting you.

For those who do take some time to observe it, the Insect Kingdom can be very interesting with thousands of species. There are seasonal fluctuations with most insect species, and it is after good rains and warm climate that their numbers increase dramatically, to the point where it would appear there is a virtual "insect invasion” as they are seemingly everywhere in billions.

We drove into the park on such a day after good rains, and slowed down to look closely at the insects. As we came to places near lush vegetation and water, so the insect numbers increased. But it was also interesting to note how many bird species were really enjoying the feast of the changing season. There were thousands of birds all catching insects in a seemingly endless cycle. Such “insect invasions” serve a purpose in providing much needed nutrition for many species such as birds and reptiles.

In the Athi basin, we found a large beautifully bright green and multi-coloured Emperor moth caterpillar moving slowing on an acacia tree branch. The branch was right next to the road, and it was the perfect opportunity to allow me to take a photo.

As we drove away I had an interesting thought – in that even though us humans do find insects irritating and a menace, they do have a definite purpose in the food chain for ensuring other species can also thrive and survive. Yes! God has created many wonders, and the insect kingdom are one of them.

Nairobi National Park is open daily from 6am to 7pm. For more information see or