August 26, 2006

Bug Blogging: Calling All Stragglers

This post didnt quite make it up before I left, but Im glad now because its given me an excuse to go back through my insect pictures from the trip. There are still a few leftovers, like the giant spider, that lose a lot of impact when trimmed down for web consumption. Ill have to suffer only showing them to my offline friends. Oh well. As fun as it was to take them, its more fun to share them. Enjoy.

Green and yellow butterflies mating. Costa Rica, 8-15-06.  natashaAfter walking for around an hour on a hilly road on a humid day with the sun right on top of my head, I got the chance to invade the privacy of another happy butterfly couple. So naturally I dropped what I was carrying at once and took out the camera. Should a person ever be too tired to want to photograph lascivious butterflies? I sincerely hope not. These two were a lot more jumpy than the last pair, but they were caught in the act, just the same.

In this pair, it was the green one that flew off towing the yellow one. The fellow student Id showed the previous set of pictures to explained that its the male that does the mid-air towing acrobatics. The pair might stay together for as many as six hours while the male holds on in a process called mate guarding, ensuring that no rivals get a chance to move in.

Leaf mimic insect with red border. Costa Rica, 6-29-06.  natashaLeaf mimic insect. Costa Rica, 6-29-06.  natashaThese next two are good enough leaf mimics that I probably wouldnt have noticed them at all if theyd been still. I found them near one of the few remaining stands of primary forest left in this region, on Finca Loma Linda, where I also saw the butterflies in the previous photo.

Even in a very small town, over distances that could be crossed on foot in a few minutes, the insect population could change dramatically from place to place. In the high grass around some of the more open coffee stands on a beautiful, sunny day, you could find yourself walking through veritable clouds of butterflies. Step out onto the road, bare rocks and dirt, and it might often as well have been the moon for all the life you might find. There were different ones closer in to town than in the greener areas and the types of greenery changed the types of insects you'd find from place to place. So there's no telling what sort of variety it might have been possible to see before the forest came down, or what might come back if more of it returned.

Inch long ant. Costa Rica, 7-20-06.  natashaThis ant, which was a bit over an inch long, crawled up the inside of the front door one fine evening while the family was watching television and I was playing free cell working on a report. Id never seen a furry ant before and no ants quite so large.

I benefited once again from having an insect scout team always looking out for something interesting to photograph, I would have missed a lot of the nifty critters that passed through the house otherwise. But my family was just super cool like that.

Scorpion. Costa Rica, 7-20-06.  natashaThe scorpion however, well this one I found all by myself later that night. A few days before I took this picture, I was visiting a friends house and sitting on the back porch. I heard some shouting out front and another friend that Id walked over with was standing out front in his boxers with his pants on the ground. Thered been a scorpion in his pocket, since who knows when, and when he put his hand in hed gotten stung. So with this memory fresh in my mind, This little guy comes skittering up the wall right alongside my computer desk when I was still up after everyone had gone to bed listening to my headphones and playing free cell writing for the blog. It froze for no particular reason that I could tell. I took a few pictures during which it didnt move. Then I got out the shoe. I apologized to Guiselle the next day for the noise, she thought Id maybe dropped something, but when I showed her the picture she was glad Id been up to find the thing. My sentiments exactly.

Green and yellow bug; esperanza. Costa Rica, 6-30-06.  natashaGreen translucent bug; esperanza. Costa Rica, 7-29-06. - natashaThe little green bugs of several types are referred to as a class, locally, as esperanzas, or hopes. Its supposed to be good luck to find them in the house. Guiselle explained this to me one day when I pointed out a cousin of the one on the left with the little yellow spots. I would have felt a lot more touched and charmed by this revelation if Id not accidentally stepped on one in my bare feet the day before.

Blue and brown butterfly, top. Costa Rica, 8-18-06.  natashaBlue and brown butterfly, side. Costa Rica, 8-18-06.  natashaThis is the only one of the brilliant blue butterflies I managed to catch a picture of, and only because it seemed to like landing on our black and blue bags. Note if you will the bright green tongue on display in the photo where its wings are raised. It stayed far longer on Julietas bag, a lighter and brighter shade of blue than mine, which was just fine with me. It was also the last insect whose photo I got a chance to take and Im glad of the parting gift. But I wont close with it.

Ive never felt this last picture really went with anything and wasnt really quite enough for a standalone. Also, it was a little disturbing to see in person. Compelling, certainly, but not exactly the sort of photographic subject I really wanted to lovingly dwell on.

It might appear that this pile of caterpillars is climbing over something in particular, but theyre not. Theyre climbing over each other, going roughly the same direction and maintaining roughly the same shape of pile. I saw them walking home for dinner one night and took this picture. It was a little over an hour before I headed back towards town along the same road and the pile was a few feet away, moving off in another direction and in a configuration that looked about the same.

Black caterpillar pile. Costa Rica, 7-10-06. - natasha

Posted by natasha at August 26, 2006 11:21 AM | Costa Rica | Technorati links |

That bottom one gives me the willies just looking the picture. It must have been pretty darn weird running into it in person.

And that ant. Wow.

Posted by: Mary at August 26, 2006 02:28 PM

I can't remember the name, but I think the crawling mass thing is, well, a thing, a known phenomena. Not, iirc, that we have any idea why . . .

Posted by: Dan S. at August 27, 2006 01:52 PM


What a blue!

Great reporting. Thanks from a loyal reader.

Good to know Finca is present.


Posted by: Jared Scarborough at August 27, 2006 07:46 PM