Naked Indians Decapitate a Couple of Coneheads   Leave a comment

Felipe del Bosque Blog June 25th  2012

Fade to Grey

This week started overcast with occasional showers but nothing too heavy.  The area has been kept damp but still without enough water to make a difference to the water table and the creek.  There is the constant rumbling of thunder with distant light shows of sheet lightning passing between the clouds.  One night a storm came right overhead at Bosque and the lighting was striking everywhere around the bar and restaurant.  But throughout the week it was a rare occasion when the sun did shine.

Something Old, Something New

There was one Puma, (Puma concolor), sighting this week.  One of the guests staying in accommodation at the top of the hill was taking a leisurely stroll down to the lodge through the forest.  She was alone and was walking slowly and quietly down the hill when she noticed something just off the path.  She was lucky enough just to catch sight of the hind end of a Puma which was slinking away through the undergrowth.

The mango trees are still heavy with fruit.  A little later in the evening Kinkajous, (Poto flavus), can still be seen moving around at the top of the trees.  They will stop for a few moments and look down at the source of disturbance beneath, which in the case of an observer will be the person holding the flashlight.

For 12 years I had witnessed the almost daily eruption of mounds of earth in the lawns resulting from the fossorial activity of Underwood’s Pocket Gopher, (Orthogeomys underwoodi).  I had not until this week seen the animal responsible.  Even then the view I was offered was momentary.  By the restaurant, as I returned from a tour, earth was being excavated from below the ground and piled up in a small pile.  Every now and then a small furry nose would appear, that gave away the identity of the culprit.  Sometimes guests to the lodge will be sitting on the decks of their cabins and notice a plant start to shake and then suddenly disappear below the ground.  The guilty party is undoubtedly Underwood’s Pocket Gopher.

Having producing daily inventories of butterflies at Bosque, some for specific research purposes and some on a more general observation basis, it is always nice when a new and previously unrecorded species turns up which is what happened this week.  I had been taking the opportunity to get out and photograph some of the butterflies around the grounds.  The sun was shining brightly and a patch of Lantana camara in the upper garden was attracting the attention of large clouds of butterflies.  Because it was so hot and bright the butterflies were only alighting momentarily and taking a quick feed of nectar before flitting off to another bloom.  The area was a constantly moving mass of color.

Celaenorrhinus sp

My eye is fairly adept at picking out things I haven’t seen before and so it was that I noticed a spread wing butterfly that I did not immediately recognize.  There was nothing bright or flashy about the individual but the pattering of translucent windows on its wings were something that I had not previously seen.  Thankfully it landed several times in front of the camera lens and I managed to get some clear photographs.  But the skippers are notoriously difficult to identify and the best I could do when I managed to download the image was to key it to the genus Celaenorrhinus.

Green Head Chopper

While out photographing the butterflies there was another creature that I did not at first notice until something gave it away.  One butterfly I noticed was hanging in a very strange way from the underside of a leaf.  When I took a closer look, I could see that the butterfly, like myself, had not seen a highly disguised killer lurking amongst the greenery; a praying mantis.  The mantids have modified front legs that are long and held in front of the body in a folded position.  Should a prey item approach too close then the legs open with lightning quick speed and exacting precision to grab the victim.  The inner edge is lined with deadly spines from which there is little hope of escape.  This unfortunate White-banded Peacock, (Anartia fatima), had innocently come within range of the assassins strike and by the time I had noticed, it had been decapitated.  The mantid then clipped off all 4 wings and proceeded to eat the succulent body.

Mantid eating butterfly

Mantid eating butterfly         Mantid eating butterfly         Mantid eating butterfly

Naked Indians

Normally when I am out and about I am looking to photograph the small animal life that exists around me.  I always carry a hand-held tape recorder and make notes of all that I see and hear.  I have 12 years of almost daily records of everything that goes on around Bosque del Cabo.  I generally record any trees that are in flower or fruit but generally don’t spend much time photographing them.

Naked Indian Tree

Last week when I was out I noticed a tree that is very distinctive due to the nature of its bark.  The outer layer of bark is red and peels away from the underlying bark which is green.  The tree is called Gumbo Limbo, (Bursera simaruba), also known as the Naked Indian Tree.  The locals often refer to them as Tourist Trees as the bark resembles the red, peeling sunburned skin of tourists who didn’t cover themselves in sun block before heading out into the blistering rays of a tropical sun.

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.

 Photo Feature


One day in the restaurant a large katydid spend most of the day motionless by the side of the reception area.  It was not an uncommon katydid but one that had eluded me in terms of photographing.  That situation was about to end as I removed it to the forest and took a few shots before it flew off.  Then a couple of days later, I saw yet another katydid of the same type but not the same species concealing itself within the depths of an unfurled Heliconia leaf.

Coneheaded Katydid         Coneheaded Katydid         Coneheaded Katydid

Both of the katydids in question were Coneheaded Katydids.  Between the antennae, above the eyes is a long cone-shaped protuberance which gives the katydid its name.  I can’t find any reference as to the purpose of the cone.  It is quite often a different color to the rest of the katydid and depending on species can be shorter or longer and more pointed.

Coneheaded Katydid

The Coneheaded Katydids belong to the subfamily Copiphorinae of the superfamily Tettigonioidea.  Katydids are related to crickets and like their cousins have very long antennae.  Grasshoppers, which they vaguely resemble, have much shorter antennae.  Also like crickets, the katydids produce sound by rubbing together specialized structures at the base of the forewings.  On the underside of the left wing of a katydid, along the length of a vein are small downward pointing teeth.  The upperside of the base of the right wing has a small projection or scraper which, when the wings are slightly raised rubs against the file and so produces the sound.  Grasshoppers produce sound by rubbing the large hind legs against the wings or rubbing the wings together.  At night the calls of so many crickets and katydids can sometimes blend together to produce a background hiss that is essentially an insect white noise.  Producing sound by rubbing body parts together is known as stridulation.

Coneheaded Katydid         Coneheaded Katydid         Coneheaded Katydid

It is the males that call and they are capable of producing a variety of calls.  The calls are species specific and also announce the male’s location as well as his potential as a mate for a female.  The calls not only keep the males widely separated but unfortunately for the caller, reveal his position to hunting predators and parasites.  As with the amphibians, the females select the preferred male due to the quality of his call.  When the female approaches the chosen male,, his call changes to that of a courting song.  If another male approaches his call will then change to a challenge and fight song.

Coneheaded Katydid

As the communication is auditory, then the katydids must have a means by which to hear the various calls.  If you look closely at the front legs, on what appears to us as a knee joint, you will see a small slit which is the “ear”.  Within the slit is a tightly stretched membrane or tympanum, just like an ear drum which transfers the sound from the air to the nervous system.

Coneheaded Katydids often come in two color forms within one species, green or brown.  This gives them an advantage in avoiding being detected by predators that may have those cerebral filters allowing them to easily pick out a specific color amongst the background of multitudinous shades and hues.


Although most grasshoppers, crickets and katydids are herbivores, there are some that will take smaller animal life when the opportunity presents itself.  The Coneheaded Katydids have very strong and sharp mouthparts that allow them to eat hard-shelled seeds but a lot of them have a pronounced carnivorous streak.  I have witnessed them on several occasions over the years catching and devouring small lizards.  You have to be careful when handling them as, if you look at the photographs, you will see those mandibles are capable of delivering a very painful bite, a fact to which I can testify through personal experience.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Rainfall 0.23 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 1.60 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 5.8 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 40.6 mm

Highest Daily Temp 91°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 75°F.

Highest Daily Temp 32.3°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.8°C.

Species List for the Week


  • Central American Squirrel Monkey
  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • Kinkajou
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Underwood’s Pocket Gopher
  • Nine-banded Armadillo


  • Brown-hooded Parrot
  • Orange-chinned Parakeet
  • Red-lored Amazons
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Great Curassow
  • Grey-necked Woodrail
  • Black Hawk
  • Crested Caracara
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Golden-naped Woodpecker
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Rufus Piha
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Magnificent Frigatebird
  • Long-billed Hummingbird
  • Rufus-tailed Hummingbird
  • Stripe-throated Hummingbird
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Brown Pelican
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Spotted Woodcreeper
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
  • Bananaquit
  • Bay-headed Tanager
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • White-shouldered Tanager
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Streaked Flycatcher
  • Tropical Gnatcatcher
  • Masked Tityra
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Great Tinamou
  • House Wren
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture


  • Basilisk
  • Brown Blunt-headed Snake
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Five-lined Ameiva
  • Green Iguana
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Northern Cat-eyed Snake
  • Norops limifrons
  • Tercieopelo



  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Litter Snake
  • Marine Toad
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Rough Skinned Dirt Frog
  • Salmon-bellied Racer
  • Smoky Jungle Frog
  • Tink Frog


  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Ascia monuste
  • Caligo eurilochus
  • Chlosyne theona
  • Cithaerias pireta
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides lybia
  • Euptoieta hegesia
  • Eurema daira
  • Eurybia lysisca
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Junonia evarete
  • Magneuptychia libye
  • Marpesia berania
  • Morpho helenor
  • Pareuptychia occirhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis agarithe
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pierella helvina
  • Pierella luna
  • Polites vibex
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Quadrus cerialis
  • Siproeta stelenes
  • Sostrata bifasciata
  • Staphylus mazans
  • Strymon megarus
  • Taygetis andromeda
  • Temenis laothoe
  • Urbanus proteus
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus tanna
  • Urbanus teleus



  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Anthurium salvinii Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Aspidosperma spruceanum Fruiting
  • Astrocaryum standelyarum Fruiting
  • Atrocarpus heterophyllus Fruiting
  • Averrhoa carambola Fruiting
  • Brownea macrophylla Flowering
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering
  • Chamaedorea costaricana Fruiting
  • Cocos nucifera Fruiting
  • Crestentia alata flowering and Fruiting
  • Costus speciosus Flowering
  • Couroupita guianensis Flowering and Fruiting
  • Dipsis lutescens Fruiting
  • Ficus citrifolia Fruiting
  • Ficus insipida Fruiting
  • Gustavia brachycarpa Flowering
  • Hedychium coronarium Flowering
  • Heliconia chartacea Flowering
  • Heliconia latispatha Flowering
  • Heliconia pogonantha Flowering
  • Heliconia psittacorum Flowering
  • Heliconia rostrata Flowering
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Flowering
  • Hymenaea coubaril Fruiting
  • Ipomoea Flowering
  • Ixora coccinea Flowering
  • Lacistema aggregatum Fruiting
  • Lacmellea panamensis Flowering and Fruiting
  • Lantana camara Flowering
  • Lagerstroemia speciosa Flowering and Fruiting
  • Mangifera indica Fruiting
  • Miconia argentia Flowering
  • Morinda citrifolia Fruiting
  • Musa acuminate Fruiting
  • Naucleopsis uliae Fruiting
  • Pandanus tectonus Fruiting
  • Piper auritum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Piper umbellatum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Pleiostachya pruinosa Flowering
  • Psidium guajava Flowering and Fruiting
  • Stachytapheta frantzii Flowering
  • Terminalia catappa Flowering
  • Tocoyena pittieri Flowering and Fruiting
  • Virola guatemalensis Fruiting
  • Virola koschnyi Fruiting
  • Vochysia ferruginea Flowering and Fruiting

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