Beautiful Blue Nymphs in a Death Cell   3 comments

Felipe del Bosque Blog September 3rd 2012

Lighting Up The Night Time Sky

The rains are now more constant but still not particularly heavy.  The thunderstorms have persisted well beyond that time at which we would have expected them to cease.  Some of those thunderstorms have produced spectacular displays of lightning which on occasion have struck close to the lodge.  Despite the fact that we are now entering September, the month that normally marks the beginning of the truly torrential rains, we are still receiving plenty of sunlight.  The days are bright with blue skies but as the afternoon progresses, the clouds gather and yet another damp night ensues.  As I sit here writing in the late afternoon, the sky has darkened, lightning is streaking from the sky, the thunder rumbles all around and the rain is falling.

We did have a blue moon last week as the lunar cycle was completed within the course of one month resulting in two full moons, one on the first day of the month, the second on the last day.  The phenomenon was not, of course, exclusive to Bosque but an event shared globally.

Carry On as Normal

It has been a quiet week with regard to animal sightings, nothing out of the ordinary.  The visitor figures to the lodge are a reflection of the time of year; the wet season, particularly September and October generally experience a fall in numbers.  There was one Puma sighting this week by one of the staff near the Titi Trail which is where most of cat sightings occur.  The Kinkajous can be heard at night up in the tree crowns.  There has been a Crab-eating Raccoon favoring a change in diet by feeding on some of the last remaining mangoes that have fallen to the ground.  All of the normally seen animals are still around in abundance, monkeys, agoutis, toucans, macaws and parrots.  This may be normal for the lodge but not for the visitors to the area who have never experienced seeing a monkey in the wild.  Even now in the wet season it is possible to go for a short walk and see a myriad of creatures in a matter of hours that you have only ever seen in televised documentaries.

Bursting Free

A few weeks ago I posted some photographs of an egg sac laid by one of the leafhoppers.  This week I noticed that the egg sac had changed appearance and was now surrounded by a large number of small black objects that on closer examination turned out to be the newly hatched nymphal form of the leafhopper.

Leafhopper nymphs

I went and got the camera, fitted the 105mm macro lens and a midsized extension tube and took some photographs.  The nymphs were tiny but viewed close up appear fascinatingly weird.  Progressively as they grow they will shed their skins several times and eventually once the wings develop they become an adult leafhopper.  These newly emerged nymphs had a strange broad bill-shaped head with what may be sensory hairs, one of which projected from either side of the head behind the eye.

Leafhopper nymphs

Blue Streak

With a reduction in visitor numbers it gives me the chance to get out on my own and see what is around.  Unfortunately it is raining, not heavily but enough to limit the number of excursions into the forest with the view of taking photos.  I did however make it out last week and although I did not get too many opportunities I did have my attention drawn to a small but beautiful glimmeringly blue butterfly flitting around close to the ground.  Once it settled, I slowly lowered myself down on my knees, lent forward until lying on my belly and gradually pulled myself forward until I had the subject full frame.

Chloreuptychia arnaca

The gorgeous little creature was one of the satyrs or browns, Chloreuptychia arnaca.  The rich and subtly ground color of reddy browns was suffused with an overlying veneer of iridescent royal blue.  I managed to get two or three shots before it took off and disappeared into the forest.

Not too far from where it had been perched there was another butterfly, a skipper, Synapte silius, I think.  There are so many skippers and many of them look almost identical that it is hard to identify them unless you place them under the magnifying lens of a laboratory based microscope.  I was happy to simply shift body position and take another photograph.

Synapte silius

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

 Communal Death Cells

Last week I noticed a group of wasps all sitting on top of a parasol shaped paper nest under a leaf.  On closer inspection I could see they were Long-waisted Wasps.  They were large enough and the nest was at the perfect height to take some photos.  It was late in the day and the natural light was dimming fast.  I managed one shot but thought I might wait until the next day to finish the task.

Long-waisted Wasps

The following afternoon when I returned to the location of the nest I could see the wasps were now sitting on the tops of leaves in the vicinity of their papery abode.  The nest itself had become detached, maybe due to its daily increasing weight, and had fallen to the ground.  Several of the wasps were hanging from the thin stalk that had anchored the original nest to the underside of the leaf and now seemed to be engaged in making new cells as the start of constructing the nurseries for their eggs and larvae.

Long-waisted Wasps         Long-waisted Wasps         Long-waisted Wasps

The Long-waisted Paper Wasps belong to the genus Mischocyttarus.  The name leaves nothing to the imagination morphologically speaking.  These wasps like the majority of other wasps are carnivorous.  They catch the prey which is chewed up and fed as a proteinaceous mush to the larvae.  The sting is reserved for defensive purposes and to that end the venom is very painful, an evolutionary development designed to provide the maximum deterrent effect.

Long-waisted Wasps

The nests are made from carton, a material produced by the wasps chewing up and gluing together wood pulp and plant fibers.  The nest is generally suspended from a small cord which is often impregnated with an ant inhibiting substance.  The cord is attached to the underside of a leaf which subsequently makes an umbrella.  The cells containing either larvae or eggs are downward facing so that rain blowing in from the side does not fill them up.

The paper wasps are social wasps belonging to the family Vespidae.  Bees, wasps and ants commonly exhibit similar hierarchies that differ somewhat in their social structuring.  The wasps tend to have a dominant female that is nominally designated with the title of queen.  She serves the main reproductive purpose; the other females in the colony usually have reduced reproductive capabilities and are employed in the raising of the brood, food foraging and nest building.  This is the normal state of affairs with the Long-waisted Wasps but occasionally the subordinate females may displace the established queen and take over the running of the nest.

While I was out walking I did see another type of wasp, one of the Pompylids or spider hunters.  The spider hunters are solitary wasps and there is no co-operation between the mothers, daughters and sisters, although they sometimes form nesting aggregations.  They may nest in burrows in the ground, cavities in trees or cells shaped from damp mud.

As the name suggests they are specialized feeders on spiders.  The female deliberately hunts down her eight-legged prey and when she finds it which she stings.  The venom paralyses the spider but does not kill it.  The unfortunate victim is then air lifted by the wasp and placed inside one of her death cells.  There she lays an egg on the now immobilized prey, seals the entrance to the cell and leaves the ill-fated creature to its grizzly demise.  When the larva hatches it has fresh living tissue to consume resulting in the poor spider literally being eaten alive.

Spider Hunting Wasp

The spider hunters are generally a rich bluey-black in color.  They only land momentarily and are always appear busy.  Their wings flick constantly when they alight and their movements are very quick and jerky, in human terms you would describe it as a being very nervous. But given the size of prey they sometimes tackle, nerves are not something the wasp ever suffers from.

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 0,21 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 1.48 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 5.38 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 57.68 mm

Highest Daily Temp 89°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 31.7°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.0°C.

Species List for the Week


  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Crab-eating Raccoon
  • Kinkajou


  • Mealy Amazon
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Great Curassow
  • Grey-necked Woodrail
  • Crested Caracara
  • Roadside Hawk
  • White Hawk
  • Golden-naped Woodpecker
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Rufus Piha
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Long-tailed Woodcreeper
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Great Kiskadee
  • House Wren
  • Riverside Wren
  • Great Tinamou
  • Blue-crowned Motmot
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture


  • Barred Ameiva
  • Boa Constrictor
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Common Basilisk
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Terciopelo


  • Banana Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Gladiator Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Smoky Jungle Frog


  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Chloreuptychia arnaca
  • Chlosyne theona
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides lybia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Junonia evarete
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pierella luna
  • Pseudolycaena damo
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Urbanus tanna


  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Bauhinia variegata Flowering
  • Brassavola nodosa Flowering
  • Cananga odorata Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering
  • Citrus spp  Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering
  • Clusia vallerii Fruiting
  • Cocos nucifera Flowering andFruiting
  • Crestentia alata flowering and Fruiting
  • Costus speciosus Flowering
  • Couroupita guianensis Flowering and Fruiting
  • Dypsis lutescens Flowering and Fruiting
  • Etlingera elatior Flowering
  • Ficus insipida Fruiting
  • Heisteria accuminata Fruiting
  • Heliconia chartacea Flowering
  • Heliconia latispatha Flowering
  • Heliconia pogonantha Flowering
  • Heliconia psittacorum Flowering
  • Heliconia rostrata Flowering
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Flowering
  • Hymenaea coubaril Fruiting
  • Hymenocallis littoralis Flowering
  • Ixora coccinea Flowering
  • Lacmellea panamensis  Fruiting
  • Lantana camara Flowering andFlowering
  • Lagerstroemia speciosa Fruiting
  • Mangifera indica Fruiting
  • Morinda citrifolia Fruiting
  • Musa acuminate Flowering andFruiting
  • Naucleopsis ulei Fruiting
  • Nephelium lappaceum Fruiting
  • Piper auritum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Piper nigrum Fruiting
  • Piper umbellatum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Pleiostachya pruinosa Flowering
  • Plumeria rubra Flowering
  • Psidium guajava Fruiting
  • Psychotria sp Fruiting
  • Stachytarpheta frantzii Flowering
  • Terminalia catappa Flowering
  • Thunbergia grandiflora Flowering
  • Zammia sp Flowering

3 responses to “Beautiful Blue Nymphs in a Death Cell

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  1. Fantastic photos. I particularly enjoyed the leafhopper nymphs and wasps. Do you have any photos showing what the adult leafhoppers look like?


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