The dry season continues unrelentingly. The daytime temperatures are still hitting the 100⁰F, (40⁰C), mark. There was a fleeting downpour one lunchtime that lasted little more than an hour. That same evening, with the momentary increase in humidity as the ground remained damp, the Halloween Land Crabs responded by emerging from their burrows in large numbers. The following night however they were once again noticeable by their absence as whatever precipitation had fallen once again evaporated and the bone-dry situation persisted.
The gardens are visibly showing signs due the effects of the extreme heat and arid conditions. The lawns are now more or less devoid of any greenery, all that exists is a broad area of parched brown burnt grass. The herbaceous plants are suffering too. Many of them have lost leaves and if they have not fallen over and died then they are most certainly looking limp and in distress. They will have to wait for a while yet for any relief as the rains do not normally start until mid-April or May.
Many of the creatures I photograph are found serendipitously. I rarely go out to photograph something specific unless it is a plant or animal that I have seen while out walking that I think will remain in place until I return with the camera. The weekly blog is written from the point of view of accidental discovery. I never know what I am going to write about until I find it.
This week I came across two different species of bugs on the same day. One was a Big-legged Bug of the family: Coreidae and the other was a stinkbug nymph of the family: Pentatomidae. The term big-legged bug perfectly describes these heteropterans. The femur of the rear legs is stout and bear spike-like projections. The tibia is flattened. They are herbivores and can sometimes become a pest feeding in large numbers on crops. This individual belongs in the genus: Acanthocephala but I am not sure of the species. There are twenty-four named species of Acanthocephala of which seven species live in Central America.
The stinkbugs are named after their ability to produce a repugnant smelling secretion from glands in the abdomen. They are sometimes called shield bugs due to the body shape. I found this particular species in the nymphal stage. There were several of them living gregariously together sucking sap from the leaves of a passion vine. The stinkbugs go through five nymphal stages before becoming adults.
Flower and Fruit
The Guacima tree, (Gauzuma ulmifolia), is found growing at the forest edges here at Bosque. It is easy to miss the flowers but the fruits are more visible. Currently they are lying all over the ground in the areas where the trees are growing. The fruits are very hard and are only occasionally fed upon by White=faced Monkey. The tree is more commonly found growing along roadsides where livestock feed on the fallen fruits.
A tree that is flowering throughout the forest at the minute is the Jacaranda, (Jacaranda copaia). The bright lilac-colored bell-shaped flowers are covering large areas of the forest floor like a violet carpet. Jacaranda as well as Guacima are both native to Central America.
The Mayo Trees, (Vochysia ferruginea), have started to flower. The crowns of the mature trees in the canopy are covered in an umbrella of bright yellow. The Mayo Trees are so named because they supposedly flower in Mayo but that has not been my experience in the last seventeen years of living in Costa Rica. Soon the canopy will be awash with patches of bright pastel colors like a giant watercolor painting.
Philip Davison Is a Biologist, Writer and Photographer Based in Costa Rica