6 Fascinating Insects of Fiji



Adult Fijian Cicada

Common NameScientific NameFoundLifespan
NanaiRaiateana knowlesiParts of the Serua and, Nadroga/ Navosa provinces on the main island of Viti Levu2 Weeks

Nanai has only been recorded on Viti Levu. The Nanai is of great significance to a particular clan in the Navosa Province, where all the chiefly daughters of that particular clan are accorded the title -“Rokonai”.The word”Roko” is a chiefly title given to male and female chiefs in some parts of Fiji. The word”nai” is a rare delicacy for this clan.

Anatomy of Fiji Cicada (Fijian Name – Nanai)

Anatomy of a Ciciada Left ryasick iStock Getty Images Right Courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica Cicada scaled
Anatomy of a Cicada (Left – iStock Getty, Right – Encyclopedia Britannica). External features of the cicada. The wing veins shown (with their abbreviations in parentheses) are cubitus (Cu), media (M), medial (m), radius (R), costa (C), radial sector (Rs), anal (An), mediocubital (m-cu), and subcosta (Sc).

Lifecycle of a Fiji Cicada

Lifecycle of a Cicada.. scaled
Source: University of Illinois

Early on when the eggs are laid deep in tree branches and later on as young nymphs within the first year, before falling and burrowing into the ground for the next 7 long years. In the eighth year, around the beginning of the wet season, it is believed, rising temperatures signals the Nanai to move upwards above ground. Millions of Nanai emerge during this season but only for one to two months at the most It is a brief and noisy invasion of the forests, but an event awaited eagerly by villagers in several provinces of Viti Levu who consider the Nanai a delicacy for gourmets.  (Documentary on Nanai Emalu Forest above)

Fun Fact

Nanai is a sought-after food, especially in the Navosa province where the adults are collected as they emerge from their final nymphal shells and tied together in chains and cooked. lt is usually cooked in bamboo stems before it is served with coconut milk. The taste is more or less like prawns roasted over charcoal.  Women also use Nanai for bait when they go out fishing.


Butterflies Fiji Insects Complete Guide 1 scaled
Viceroy butterfly in the heat of a summer day in the Corkscrew Swamp. This is one of the several species to mimic the Monarch’s colours and pattern – known to birds for being toxic to eat.
ImageCommon NameLocatedEnvironmental - ColourWingspan
Blue tiger butterfly.Dark Tiger - Danuas hamataWidespread on the larger islands in FijiA distinctly black and white butterfly7 cm
HypolimnasbolinaGreat Eggfly - Hypolimnas bolinaWidespread across FijiSuburban gardens. Males and females differ considerably with the wings of females being duller and lacking the spots10 cm
Polyura caphontis.Fijian Emperor - Polyura caphontisViti Levu & Taveuni - EndemicTree tops usually restricted to forest and the forest margin.7 cm
Doleschallia bisaltide.Autumn Leaf - Doleschallia bisaltideLarger islands of FijiWhen its wings are closed over its back resembles an old dried up leaf. When it flies, a rich orange upper surface is revealed7 cm
Natewa Swallowtail.Fiji Swallowtail - Papilio schmeltzii
long tailed blue butterflyLong tailed Blue - Lampides boeticus
Butterflies Fiji Insects Complete GuideMonarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus
Precis villidaMeadow Argus - Precis villida

Butterflies are among nature’s most beautiful gifts to mankind. They have been admired and studied for centuries. Even the most uninterested observer of the natural world can identify a butterfly and will, as likely as not, pause to watch a nearby colourful butterfly. Currently, 46 native and one introduced species of butterfly are known from Fiji, Fiji’s butterflies belong to five families and five of the species are considered as endemic species and so found only in Fiji.


Oryctes Rhinoceros Fiji Beetle Courtesy of Beetle Identification scaled
Oryctes Rhinoceros Fiji Beetle Courtesy of Beetle Identification
ImageCommon NameLocatedSizeColour
Paracupta sulcataJewel Beetle - Paracupta sulcataViti Levu, Taveuni and Vanua Balavu in the Lau GroupDamatic display of metallic green and powder yellow stripes.Whether this beetle is actually poisonous or distasteful to potential predators is not known - Rare
giant fijian longhorn beetle from close up macro giant fijian long horned beetle 1Giant Fijian Long horned Beetle - Xixuthrus herosEndemic to Viti Levu10 cm long excluding the antennae, which are another 7.5 cm.Chocolate brown colour.
Paracupta flaviventris.Jewel Beetle - Paracupta flaviventris
Weevil Rhinoscapha lagopyga.Weevil - Rhinoscapha lagopyga
No ImageJewel Beetle - Agrilus sp
width=150Jewel Beetle - Paracupta spmetallic blue and powdery yellow stripes
width=150Jewel Beetle - Cyphogastra abdominalis

Fiji has several species of Jewel or Buprestid beetles, which are among the most colourful of its beetle population. None of them are common unless one knows where to look for them. In spite of their brilliant colours or perhaps because of it, as their spectacular colours surprisingly only help these beetles blend into their natural surroundings.

Anatomy of a Beetle

Anatomy of a Beetle Courtesy of iStock e1676000192431
Diagram of a beetle – Illustration

VIDEO – Fijian Wildlife – The Giant Fijian Long Horn Beetle



Agrionoptera insignis Fiji Dragonfly Courtesy The Flying Kiwi
Agrionoptera insignis – Fiji Dragonfly (Courtesy The Flying Kiwi)
Striped Flutterer Rhyothemis Phylis.Striped Flutterer - Rhyothemis PhylisFlies rather like a butterfly, often gliding and slowly flapping its wings in a manner unusual for a dragonfly.
Grenadier. Agrionoptera Insignis.Grenadier. - Agrionoptera InsignisRed and Green
Green SkimmerGreen Skimmer -
Orthetrum Serapia
Narange Creek in Korayanitu National Park
Common Percher Diplacodes bipunctata.Common Percher - Diplacodes bipunctataKorayanitu National Park - yellow colouration, and the males starts yellow but change through orange and red, when they are mature

Dragonflies are perhaps the most attractive-looking insects after various butterflies and beetles, with their eyes and bodies coming in a veritable rainbow of different colours.  They typically have an adult lifespan of between 1-9 months. The dragonflies’ distinctive visual characteristics are their wings typically they are entirely transparent, through all species have at least one coloured window at the front of each wing.

An adult dragonfly’s main diet consists of a variety of insects, they hunt their prey in a couple of ways…

  1. Many sit on a perch (territorial) and when something passes by they fly up to catch it. Successful or not, they usually then return to the same perch, or perhaps another favourite perch in the same area.
  2. Other species patrol up and down an area, and catch their prey in mid-flight, dragonflies have evolved amazing powers of flight, with four wings which can be operated independently, enabling them to forward and backwards. they are typically referred to as ‘mosquito hawks’ as they consume a large number of these harmful insects beneficial to humans, another reason for their popularity. flying without break and even eating while on the wing.

Fun Facts

Like many other flying insects, dragonflies are unable to fly when their large flight muscles are cold, so if the temperature is below about 18 degrees Celsius they usually remain hidden in vegetation. Some darker dragonflies become darker when it’s cold, which helps them heat up if there’s any sunlight.

The different patterns of veins on the wings are the main way of distinguishing one family of dragonflies from the other.

Anatomy of a Dragonfly

Dragonfly Anatomy
Anatomy of a Dragonfly (Image Unkown)


Theretra Pinastrina Fiji Moth Courtesy of The Flying Kiwi
Theretra Pinastrina – Fiji Moth (Courtesy of The Flying Kiwi)

In Fiji, 10 species of Moths have been described, they are among nature’s most accomplished mimics. Some moths are day fliers and would be easily mistaken for butterflies by the untrained eye.

The Sphingid (Hawk) Moths are found all year round (abundant during the warmer and wet months), they are the most interesting group of moths with their thick bodies and long fore wing, making them quite powerful flyers. They feed on blossom nectar through the proboscis that uncurls to reach the bottom of a flower tube.

Stick Insects

Closeup Eyes Wings Wazka The Front Of The Insect
(Courtesy of MaxPixel)
ImageCommon NameDescription
Coconut Stick Insect Mimimata .Coconut Stick Insect - MimimataThe coconut stick insect is the most common stick insect in Fiji, and is unusual among stick insects in having wings, though they are very small and not particularly useful for flying. Females are bright green and about 7 inches (17cm) long, while males are light brown and rather smaller. They spend their lives attached to the rough underside of coconut leaflets.
No ImageUcikau - Phasmid Cotylosoma dipneusticumThe Fijian stick insect is unique to Fiji, and has a ferocious appearance, with rows of vicious-looking thorn-like projections along the sides of its brown blotchy body and legs.
width=150Ucidrau - Phasmid Chitoniscus feejeeanusThe leaf insect is very rare in Fiji, which is at the eastern extremity of its range, They are small – up to 4 inches (10cm) at most – and the body mimics green leaves in shape and colour, down to the presence of veins.
width=150Ucikau Walking Stick - Hermarchus apolloniusThe Giant stick insect is one of Fiji’s largest insects, attaining a length of 12 inches (25cm), particularly fond of guava trees.

Stick insects (known as ucikau in Fijian, uci, meaning ‘to resemble ‘, plus kau, meaning ‘stick’) are one of nature’s experts at camouflage, evolving alongside the vegetation closely in which they reside, being stationary most of their lives, this evolutionary invisibility cloak protects them from known predators, with an additional ability if required to regenerate any lost limbs which may be lost through fight and flight.

They have long thin bodies, and long antennae, with some species having small wings. The majority of stick insects are females, which are normally larger than males, and capable of reproduction by themselves.

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