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Felipe del Bosque Blog June 12th 2011

Normal Service Has Been Resumed

After the erratic start to the rainy season, things have now more or less settled into the usual pattern for this time of year.  The days are bright and sunny but every night, generally earlier in the evening, the rain comes down.  Most visitors to the lodge are relatively happy with this scenario as it allows them to get out and enjoy activities during the day and they are normally in bed while it rains.

If it does rain during the day, I always suggest it is a good idea not to don rain jackets.  You will get just as wet as without them because of your profuse sweating.  Skin is the most waterproof thing you have and once that gets wet, you are not going to get any wetter and the one thing that you are not going to die of here is hypothermia.

Fungus

The wet conditions caused a sudden flush of fungal fruiting bodies.  In the lawns around the restaurant over a period of several days, we observed the appearance of Swiss Cheese Stinkhorns, their long phallic shapes having the holes which give them their name.  The tip is covered in a gray gelatinous spore carrying mass that stinks of carrion.  The smell attracts flies that land and finding no food, fly off, but by that time they have become coated in spores, and consequently act as unwitting disperses for the fungus.

Swiss Cheese Stinkhorn

In the forest, bracket fungi proliferate, their woody fruiting bodies appearing as multi-colored saucer shaped shelves from the side of the trees.  There are the more familiar mushroom like forms ranging in size from tiny to huge.  Fungi for the most part are saprophytes feeding on dead or decaying material.  Some are club or finger-shaped, looking nothing remotely like the mushrooms people are familiar with.

Bracket Fungus     Unidentified Fungus    Titan Mushroom

As with everything else, the fungi diversity is very high, but with no real adequate reference to identify them, it is sometimes only possible to classify them as far as family level.  They still provide an interesting sighting on the trails though.

Wasps in Bees Clothing

There was one incident last week that thankfully had a happy ending.  Some guests were waiting to leave after breakfast, everyone had said their goodbyes, but as they awaited their taxi, something crashed to the ground behind the kitchens.  Heavy rain the night before had destabilized a Paper Wasp nest, huge in dimensions, which had been constructed over many years at the top of a Mayo Tree.  This particular morning, the bottom half fell away, carrying a great number of wasps with it.  There is nothing worse than having their house fall apart to raise the ire of these stinging antagonists.  They proceeded to launch a savage assault on anyone or anything in the vicinity, mattering little to the wasps that the objects of their wrath were innocent of any crime against them.

In situations like this, your best option is to run, fast and far. Do not head for the swimming pool, which is where the staff and guests unfortunately made a beeline for.  Upon surfacing for air, the yellow banded assassins will simply continue their attacks; you are a sitting, or swimming target.  Fortunately no serious damage was done and the guests left, damp, laughing and with a tale to tell.

The initial blame was laid at the door of “Africanised Bees”, but when I returned and looked up at the remains of the nest I could see it was in fact the Paper Wasps that had been responsible.  About a week later, one night and without further disturbance to anyone, the remaining inhabitants of the broken shell just disappeared.

Philip is a biologist, writer and photographer as well as the onsite naturalist guide at Bosque del Cabo Rainforest lodge on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

www.bosquedelcabo.com

 Photo Feature

Free Bee Building Materials

The huge Milky Tree that fell last week, continued to exude copious amounts of sap for days on end.  This has provided a huge amount of interest for many of the forest insects.  As you approach the tree, which was cut into sections to clear the trail, the hum of insects involved in a sap collecting frenzy can be heard.  It doesn’t take a great deal of close scrutiny to evaluate what is going on.  Bees, of many different species belonging to a whole variety of genera from many different families, can be seen, busily collecting the exudates.  It is the females, their rear legs, normally used for pollen collection but now heavy with the procurement of resins that they will use to manufacture combs or construct nests.  It is a risky business though, landing on a sheet of soft white sticky glue which is leaking from the tree.  The area looked not unlike a miniature modern day version of the La Brea tar pits that ensnared many an unfortunate prehistoric mammal.  Bees of all sizes that had landed before the resin had set were simply stuck and covered by more of the viscous latex.

Female Orchid Bee Collecting Resin     Orchid Bee

Female Orchid Bee Collecting Resin

One other insect, rarely seen, until a Milky Tree falls and then they appear as if by magic in large numbers, are the Harlequin Beetles, (Acrocinus longimanus).  Named after the red and black costume of that devils advisory, Harlequin, you would think the beetles, given their large size and color would stand out against the tree trunks.  Exactly the opposite is true; the cryptic coloration blends in perfectly with the background color of lichens covering the bark of the trees.  Unlike their namesake, they are far from nimble, the long legs, (latin: longimanus), causing them to scramble and climb in an ungainly lumbering manner, not unlike a grounded bat.  Harlequin Beetles are Longhorn Beetles, (Family: Cerambycidae), named as such because of their very long antennae.

Harlequin Beetle

They appeared to be feeding on the plant sap and because there were males and females, it could well be that they were there to mate, their larvae boring into and feeding on dead wood.  If you touch one of the beetles, they make a loud hissing sound, raise their elytra and take to the air.  Such a large heavy beetle, only flies clumsily short distances before landing again, but hopefully out of harms way.

Over a 24 hour period, the bees had succeeded in removing all of the resin which for several days had been leaking from the tree in gallons.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Temp High 86°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 73°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.11 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.75 ins

Average Daily Temp High 29.6°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 23.8°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 2.7 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 19.1 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Capuchin Monkey
  • White-nose Coati
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Agouti
  • Collared Peccaries

Birds

  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Grey-necked Woodrail
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Rufus-tailed Hummingbird
  • Crested Caracara
  • Great Currasow
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Magnificent Frigatebirds
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Common Paureque
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Rufus Piha
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
  • Great Tinamou
  • Masked Tityra
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Common Basilisk
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Pug-nosed Anole
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Terciopelo
  • Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Amphibians

  • Marine Toad
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Banana Frog
  • Masked Smilisca
  • Milky Frog
  • Smokey Jungle Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Tink Frog

Butterflies

  • Aeria eurimedia
  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Antirrhea philoctetes
  • Astraptes fulgerator
  • Callimormus radiola
  • Catonephele numilia
  • Chioides albofasciata
  • Chlosyne theona
  • Cissia confusa
  • Colobura dirce
  • Cupido comyntas
  • Dione juno
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides lybia
  • Euphyes vestries
  • Eurema albula
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Magneuptychia libye
  • Marpesia berania
  • Marpesia furcula
  • Marpesia petreus
  • Mechanitis polymnia
  • Mesene phareus
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Opsiphanes tamarindi
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Phoebis agarithe
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrrhogyra otolais
  • Siproeta stelenes
  • Taygetis andromeda
  • Telemiades delalanda
  • Temenis laothoe
  • Urbanus proteus
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus tanna

 

Plants

  • Astrocaryum Palm Fruiting
  • Black Alligator Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Clusia Vine Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Inga Fruiting
  • May Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Manglillo Fruiting
  • Nutmeg Fruiting
  • Santa Maria Flowering
  • Stinky Toe Fruiting and Fruiting
  • Ylang ylang Flowering
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