Indiana Cristo is among a small group of people outside the U.S. who’ve been participating in National Moth Week every year since it was founded in 2012. So, it was an easy decision for him to become the country coordinator for his native land of Colombia – our first coordinator in South America.
As a biologist from the city of Manizales in the coffee heart of Colombia, Indiana says he is passionate about the study of neotropical insects such as butterflies, moths and beetles of the Lucanidae family found in the mountainous areas.
Since 2004, he has developed many studies focused on discovering the diversity of Lepidopteran species, from the lowlands to the high Andean mountainous landscapes in Colombia and Venezuela. He is also the author of the recent book, “Colombia, país de mariposas.”
Indiana is very interested in studying the origins of endemism (specifically native species) and the conservation of lepidopterans in the northern Andes to identify areas with high diversity of restricted-range species, define the main threats to restricted-range species (loss of habitat, climate change, introduced species) and identify possible priority areas for the conservation of restricted-range species.
Indiana has participated annually in NMW with public and private events in different natural landscapes in Venezuela, Colombia and Peru.
“My interest in observing moths actually originated through my participation in National Moth Week,” Indiana said.
Additionally, he has offered specialized courses for biology students on the ecology, taxonomy and systematics of Lepidoptera in Colombia and Venezuela. He also is a participant with citizen science projects on the iNaturalist platform and disseminator of news about Lepidoptera on social media.
Currently Indiana Cristo is a researcher associated with the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity of the University of Florida in Gainesville. He also is a researcher at the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources and Research Institute in Bogatá. From Colombia, he collaborates with international researchers on studies on the taxonomy and systematics of Colombian moths in groups such as Noctuoidea, Bombycoidea and Geometroidea.
“Through the NMW initiative on its 10th anniversary, we hope to be motivators for the study, conservation and observation of moths, a fascinating group of insects that attracts more attention every day and has more followers in Colombia and the world.”