DoE undertakes night time bugs count

| 06/04/2010

(CNS): Love them or hate them, bugs are an extremely important part of the natural eco-system, and although there are over one million individual species of insects known to science, making them the most diverse creature on earth, very little is known about them. Paradoxically, given their enormous ecological and economic significance, very little is known about the role they play in the natural and built environment. As a result, the Department of the Environment will be spending April counting the aerial (ones that fly about) insects found in Grand Cayman’s night-time skies to shed some light on the life of bugs in our own environment.

According to this month’s edition of the DoE newsletter Flicker, scientists estimate that some six to ten million species of creepy crawlies remain to be discovered and described, which means the DoE survey could turn up some unexpected and hitherto unknown bugs.
The project will be conducted using UV light traps supplied by the Mosquito Research and Control Unit to capture insects from different habitats. The role of insects in the ecology of other key species will also be examined. Urban, natural and intermediate sites will be compared in order to find out how habitat modification and vegetation type influence insect populations.
“With so little known about local insects, the exciting possibility always remains that new species will be discovered. The project is scheduled for completion by late April, and the results will be published in an upcoming edition of Flicker,” the DoE said.
Additionally, in support of the previous work of Paul Watler of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, traps are being deployed at established bat survey locations to examine interactions between the species.
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  1. Department of Environment says:

    Dear CNS,  Please allow me space to clear up some confusion and the negative comments surrounding the article regarding DOE’s recent project to inventory Cayman’s nighttime insect life. It seems to have unnecessarily touched a few raw nerves and that may be understandable given the current economic climate.

    The project reported in the article is being carried out by a visiting graduate intern, volunteering with the DOE for work experience.  This person is self supported and receives no funding or salary from the DOE.  The work is basically being conducted for free; even the equipment supplied by MRCU has been donated to the project for its duration.  The DOE is able to conduct considerable amounts of important additional work utilising our visiting scientist programme.  We currently have a total of 4 visiting scientists working with us this month at no cost to the DOE aside from the logistical costs of our support.  The economic benefit of this work and these self funded visitors to the Island at this time is considerable.

    The DoE actively encourages young Caymanians to become interns during their summer break from school and university.  Many of our Caymanian staff begun their careers this way. As a matter of clarification, of the DOE’s current complement of 34 staff, only 5 are considered non-Caymanian, and of that 5, only 2 do not have a connection to Cayman by virtue of being married to a Caymanian or are part of the Permanent Residency process in some form.  

    Additionally, while this is perhaps not the forum to get into a protracted explanation of the merits of this study, the project does have important environmental implications. Insects are very readily available, easy and relatively inexpensive to count, which makes them good indicator species by which to monitor the health of the environment.  The DOE is charged solely with responsibility for the natural resources. While garbage collection and youth unemployment are important they are outside of our areas of expertise.

    If youare interested in the considerable diversity of work carried out by the DOE, would like to become an intern or would like more information please visit our website at

    Timothy Austin

    Deputy Director, Research and Assessment

    Department of Environment

    • Anonymous says:

       Excuse those posters Mr. Austin.  They obviously have diarehha of the mouth and have no clue what your department does.  With this internet, they can’t seem to search a simple thing as this to find out the obvious:  you don’t do garbage.

      There is so much hatred in Cayman and it’s very sad. I’m afraid to read the comments sometimes.  It actually gives me anxiety attacks to read such hatred against government, Caymanians, expats, children, etc.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Who are going to be counting them?Can some joung Caymanians be hired to do this job at DOE or do you have to be Jamaican to work at the garbage dump,truck and all other related jobs in the DOE????.



  3. Anonymous says:

    Next thing you know the CS adds a new department, rents an Office and hires some additional Staff including an HR Director and atleast one Assistant, all of them will be asked to work very hard for little compensation, like the rest of them…..LOL! Happy counting it’s really one of the most pressing issues we have to deal with right now!

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is a good starting point to cut civil servants since the most pressing thing is to count bugs, probably on overtime too.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Oh how I wish for the mosquitoes and sand flies of the 1960s to mid 1970.


    • frank rizzo says:

      38% youth unemployment and grown folks are counting bugs.

    • Anonymous says:

      Me too.  Things were so much better then, when there were more insects, more disease, poorer health care, poorer education and the job options were varied between working at sea or working at sea.  Oh how I miss those days.