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Invertebrates make up at least 97% of the world’s animal species, and all share one important feature; they lack a vertebral column, or backbone.

Invertebrates include insects, snails and other molluscs, spiders, crustaceans, sea urchins, jellyfish, worms, corals, and sponges.

Over 250 insect species have been recorded in the Falkland Islands, and it is very probable that there are many more yet to be discovered. Most native insect species are closely related to those in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, with the prevailing westerly winds and ocean currents likely to have aided their arrival. Summer is the best time to find insects in the Islands as more species are active between December and March.

Along the coastline the most common insect species include camel crickets (amongst the largest native insect in the Islands, often exceeding 20mm in length), small flightless tussac moths, and flightless sub-Antarctic kelp flies.

Several native species have reduced or even absent wings; likely an adaptation to the high cost of wing development against the reduced need for dispersal on small islands, plus the threat of removal out to sea with the very high winds that are regularly observed in the Falklands.

Away from the coast, arguably the most beautiful and intriguing insect to be found in the Islands is the Queen of the Falklands fritillary butterfly.

This is the only breeding species of butterfly in the Falkland Islands.

The eggs are laid on the leaves of native yellow violets which the young caterpillars will eat as they grow, whilst the adult butterflies have been reported feeding on the nectar of Berry-lobelia, Christmas bush flowers, and Falkland Lavender.

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