Most people who know me know that I love insects, especially butterflies and moths. Costa Rica has some of the most diverse butterfly species in the world, and some of the most beautiful ones too. As a program intern at the SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies, I have been able to incorporate my passion for insects into my work.

Throughout this past year, I have been assisting Professor Achim Häger with the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) projects on our campus organic orange and mango farm. I set up juice traps to attract fruit flies that prey on our crops, and also help direct the field exercises on IPM techniques and insect pests. I have also assisted with exercises on nocturnal insects with Professor Edgardo Árevalo. We set up different light traps to attract moths, mayflies, leaf hoppers and other night-time critters to learn more about their behaviors. I have even been helping Professor Mary Little organize a few outreach events centered around insect education and conservation. It’s surprising how insects have fit in with so many of our academic themes!

In addition to my work with the professors, I’ve been helping our farm staff to create a pollinator garden. The garden is filled with host plants and attractive flowers for local species, and it also acts as a quiet study space for students. We are currently designing signs to place in the garden that will educate students and visitors on common species, pollinator services, metamorphosis, and pollinator conservation. The students have been helping out in the garden through farm chores, too. They have assisted in clearing the space, weeding, and planting new flowers. Hopefully more butterflies, students, and community members will be able to enjoy the garden we have all worked hard to create.

My time as a SFS intern is coming to a close, but I have loved being a part of the SFS team here in Costa Rica. I have learned so much about conservation techniques, biodiversity, sustainable tourism, and Costa Rican culture and traditions. I look forward to my next adventure where I’m sure there will be plenty of bugs!