Archive for the ‘Katydid’ Tag

A Cheesy Tale of Bee-ing Dead   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog September 17th 2012

The Calm Before

There has been no change in the weather to talk of.  The days have been amazingly sunny with the rains arriving in the evening.  As with the last few weeks, the showers have been intense and of short duration.  They are continuing to be accompanied with spectacular lightning storms probably as a result of the hot days producing a great deal of convection within the humid air.

Life in the Dead

It is not so easy to see things amongst the dead leaf litter on the ground despite the fact that there is so much living there.  Most of the katydids I find at Bosque are green, leaf-shaped and tend to be up in amongst the living vegetation.  I was cutting back some of the heliconias that had become densely overgrown around my cabin and noticed a small movement down amongst the dead leaves on the ground.  Closer observation revealed a katydid but this one was very dark brown and mottled closely resembling the withered leaves surrounding it.

Katydid

I got to my knees, camera in hand and tried to photograph it but the light levels were very low and the insect was very dark.  My shifting position in an attempt to get the best possible angle proved too much for the katydid which took flight but it didn’t go very far, eventually settling on the surface of a leaf in a low growing shrub.  The position at first seemed better, but the light wasn’t and there were vines hanging between me and my subject so I had to settle for the images I managed to obtain at ground level.

Katydids are classified as Long-horned Orthopteroids which also includes the crickets.  The long horns are the whip-like filamentous antennae which in grasshoppers tend to be short and stubby.  So if we follow the line of nomenclature reasoning then grasshoppers become Short-horned Orthopteroids.  The base of the male katydids forewings is thickened and modified into a sound producing organ, their calls being produced by stridulation or rubbing the wings together.  Particularly at night the calling males sing to attract a mate but to our ears, with the number of insects calling simultaneously, it sounds like little more than an insect white noise.

If they are using sound to communicate, they also need ears to hear.  The typana or ‘ear drums’ are located on the front legs, the shape and form of the slit on the tibia where they are housed is used as a diagnostic feature to identify the different families.

Many animals feed on Kaydids which is why many of them are so cryptically colored quite often sporting a camouflage so perfect that they blend imperceptibly into the vegetation amongst which they are situated.   Both the color and the texture of this katydid give the impression of little more than a dead and dried up leaf fragment.

Looking Small

Spiders are everywhere if you choose to look for them.  It is estimated that at no point in your life are you any more than 6 feet from a spider.  They are not the kind of creature most people would go out of their way to find but for those who are interested or those who can overcome their fear then with a macro lens spiders make a fascinating subject.

There are some very common species around the lodge area, two of the most frequently observed being the Golden Orb Spider, (Nephila clavipes), and the Silver Orb Spider, (Argiope argentata).  Both are fairly large and have extensive webbing strung between the vegetation.  At night the wandering spiders, (Cupiennis spp), and wolf spiders, (Lycosidae), will emerge and can be seen on the leaves or the ground respectively.  Occasionally tarantulas will turn up but not in the same numbers as in other areas.

But if you poke around looking in amongst the vegetation around the gardens you will find crab spiders, jumping spiders, net-throwing spiders and a whole variety of orb weaving spiders.  The body form and colors of different species give them a “not of this world” look.  The Crab-like or Spiny-bodied Spider, (Gasteracantha cancriformis), belongs in this group.  They are tiny spiders that build the classic orb web strung between the twigs and branches of trees and shrubs.  In typical orb spider fashion they sit in the centre of the web and wait for prey to become trapped.  The females have a wide oval shaped body with 6 spines protruding from the edge.  These thorny extensions may serve to protect the spider from being eaten by a hungry bird or lizard.

Crab-like Spider

Photographing spiders in webs close up is no easy task.  The slightest breeze will move the web consequently causing the spider to shift in and out of focus.  You have to hope for a still day or else use a fast shutter speed and synchronize pressing the shutter as the spider drifts into focus.  One spider made the work slightly easier by making the web across the top of a large bucket.  The spider in question was another Spiny-bodied Spider, (Micrathena breviceps).  Unfortunately I could only get a shot of the ventral surface as the individual was hanging suspended beneath the strands of silk composing the loosely constructed web.

Spiny-bodied Spider

The color of this spider is predominantly black and yellow which also happens to be the most visual color grouping that exists.  Clearly the spider is not trying to hide.  Those colors are aposomatic, warning colors.  Should a naïve bird choose to eat the spider those long spines projecting from its rear and the large dorsal spine serves to lodge the spider in the bird’s bill.  All the time the spider is stuck with the bird trying to dislodge the spiny obstruction; it issues a noxious tasting secretion.  Once the bird finally rids itself of the foul tasting, brightly colored mistaken food item, it will never ever go near anything black and yellow again.

Bee Killer

A commonly seen but not often identified insect that is found around Bosque is one of the bugs belonging to the family Reduviidae.  They are often just dismissed as weird bugs and that they are, but not bugs in the generic sense, rather true bugs belonging to the order Hemiptera, suborder Heteroptera.

The reduviids are assassin bugs, named after their ferocious and predatory habit of killing and sucking the life blood from other insects.  They stealthily approach their unsuspecting prey, then lash out and grab it with their front legs.  You can see beneath the head the long piercing beak-like stylet that injects into the hapless victim immobilizing venom before the six-legged assassin succors nourishment by imbibing its blood.  Don’t mess with them as they can and do hurt when biting under provocation.

This particular specimen belongs to the genus Apiomerus which loosely translates into “Bee Killer”.  They lurk around flower heads for stingless bees; it is thought to this effect they may even release a bee mimicking pheromone to attract the doomed hymenopteran.  Once caught, there is no escape and the drained carcass of the little bee is all that will be left to drop to the ground.

At the rear end of each of the wings, there is a red expanded area which tends to be the most noticeable feature for most people who watch them fly in a most laborious fashion between plants.  This could well act as a target area for lizards and birds whose attention will also be drawn to these visually obvious areas.  They strike and simply receive a small piece of wing membrane for their efforts.  In the meantime the assassin will have slipped away unnoticed to carry out its nefarious practices elsewhere.

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

Fallen From The Sky

The trees in and around Bosque del Cabo support a lot of other plants growing on their trunks and branches.  Plants that grow on other plants are called epiphytes and they are not necessarily parasitic upon their hosts, in fact very few of them rarely are.  Epiphyte is a generic term and plants from lots of different families can have species that are epiphytic.  Here at Bosque we find epiphytic ferns, vines, bromeliads and orchids, (88% of all Costa Ricas orchids are epiphytic).

Sometimes if a branch becomes to heavily laden with epiphytic growth, the tree will cut off the vascular system into that limb, which dies, decomposes and falls to the ground.  Often the pounding from an intense downpour of rain will also knock branches to the ground.  Most epiphytes will not survive when they have been dislodged or discarded from their bright and lofty perches in the canopy, the light levels at the level of the forest floor being too dim to sustain them.

Swiss Cheese Plant

It was with some surprise then that I noticed the large white flower of a species of Monstera blooming on the forest floor in a place it had not been the day before.  Monsteras are hemiepiphytic vines that are known to people as the common houseplant ‘Swiss Cheese Plant”, so called because of the form of the leaves which are split and full of holes.  But the flowers occur at the top of the trees.  In this case, the branch supporting the leaf had snapped and fallen, probably as a result of the brief but heavy deluge the night before.  The flower had just opened and was attracting a lot of insect life, largely bees which appear to be the main pollinators.

Swiss Cheese Plant

The Monstera flower has two parts, the spathe which is like a large white single petal that encloses the spadix, which is like a fat white finger-like structure bearing the spirally arranged bisexual flowers.

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 0.40 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 2.77 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 10.1 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 70.4 mm

Highest Daily Temp 91°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 32.4°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.5°C.

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Agouti
  • White-nosed Coati

Birds

  • Mealy Amazon
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Great Curassow
  • Black Hawk
  • Crested Caracara
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Roadside Hawk
  • White Hawk
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Purple-crowned Fairy
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Crested Owl
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Bananaquit
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • House Wren
  • Great Tinamou
  • Masked Tityra
  • Black Vulture
  • King Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Common Basilisk
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Salmon-bellied Racer
  • Tiger Rat Snake

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Caligo atreus
  • Caligo eurilochus
  • Dryas iulia
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Junonia evarete
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Pierella luna
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Siproeta stelenes

Plants

  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Bauhinia variegata Flowering
  • Cananga odorata Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering
  • Clusia rosea Fruiting
  • Cocos nucifera Flowering andFruiting
  • Crestentia alata flowering and Fruiting
  • Costus specioas Flowering
  • Couroupita guianensis Flowering and Fruiting
  • Dypsis lutescens Flowering and Fruiting
  • Etlingera elatior Flowering
  • 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
  • Musa acuminate Flowering andFruiting
  • Nephelium lappaceum Fruiting
  • Piper auritum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Piper nigrum Fruiting
  • Piper umbellatum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Pleiostachya pruinosa Flowering
  • Plumeria rubra Flowering
  • Stachytarpheta frantzii Flowering
  • Terminalia catappa Flowering
  • Thunbergia grandiflora Flowering
  • Zammia sp Flowering

 

Screening for Aliens   3 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog September 10th 2012

The Calm Before

It has been another week of sun and showers.  The thunderstorms have still been around but now not every night as has been the case over the past few weeks and they have been further off  in the distance.  Towards the end of the week and over the weekend there was no rain to speak of at all.  So far in terms of precipitation it has been and looks like being one of the drier wet seasons.  But there is still another 2 or 3 months to go before we can say as to whether it was or wasn’t.  For anyone visiting Costa Rica, particularly the Osa Peninsula, at the moment though, if their research had lead them to believe they were in for a soaking, they are going to have a very pleasant surprise.

There is a Light On

One evening when I left my cabin as the sun was setting I forgot to switch off the light.  I was away for several hours searching for animal life around the grounds and when I returned it was to find that the incandescent glow coming from within the 4 walls of my abode had attracted the collective presence of a wide variety insect life.  They had come up against the fine mesh screens covering my windows and there they had come to rest.  Anyone living in unlit areas will be familiar with this phenomenon.

One unusual visitor was a butterfly that must have been flying close by and having seen the light was attracted to its source before settling and becoming dormant.  This was one of the owl butterflies, (Opsiphanes tamarindi).  This is a fairly common species often found in the areas of their larval food plant Heliconias, several species of which my garden grow abundantly in my garden.  They are also crepuscular, more often than not flying at dusk, which this one appears to have been doing before landing on my window screen.  It is noticeable that the trailing edge of the hind wing is missing where a predator must have taken a bite in the area of the eye spot, a deliberate target presented by the butterfly to the predator to direct the bite away from the vitally important head and body.

Owl Butterfly

Looking at the photograph of the full side view, the butterfly would only appear to have 2 legs each side whereas everyone knows that insects have 6 legs, 3 each side.  If you then look at the close up of the head, which the butterfly was so amenable to pose for, you will see that there is indeed a third leg.  The front legs are reduced in size and are held up in front of the eye either side of the proboscis.  They are covered in hairs and give the large and cosmopolitan family of butterflies that this species belongs to its name, the brush foot butterflies, (Nymphalidae).

Opsiphanes tamarindi

A large number of katydids of varying size and species were aggregated on the screen near the owl butterfly.  One weird looking insect, a planthopper was also making its way up the screen.  Both this and the katydids exhibit cryptic coloration that blends them perfectly against the background vegetation amongst which they live.  The katydid’s body is green and leaf shaped whereas the planthopper has its wings bearing a heavy network of dark green contrasting against the lighter green background resembling a mesh of leaf veins.  The border is red with some red spots towards the inside which may serve to suggest some fungal damage or decay.  I stand to be corrected by I think this particular planthopper belongs to the family Flatidae and may be of the genus Lawana.

Unidentified Katydid

Unidentified Planthopper

Tremulous Lawn Gel

One morning while out conducting my daily survey of plants and animals, I noticed in the grass a blob of gelatinous material like a piece of shredded jelly.  The organism was in fact a jelly fungus, Tremella fuciformis.  There is nothing else that actually resembles Tremella so it is easy to identify.  It is generally associated with rotten wood in high humidity but this particular one seemed to growing straight out of the ground. In fact Tremella has the strange habit of parasitizing other fungi that are living saprophitically on decaying roots and branches.

Tremella fuciformis

It is not considered a delicacy many places outside of China where it is grown commercially and consumed in large quantities.  It is also used medicinally in China, more recently for counteracting the harmful effects of radiotherapy.

Not My Stepping Stone

For many months now I have been trying to get a photograph of a large male Basilisk, (Basiliscus basiliscus), that resides at the Bosque pond.  I always see him sleeping at night on a high vertical root of the large Screw Pine growing at the back of the pond but I really wanted to capture him awake at the pond edge.  Every time I got close enough he would take fright and disappear from view at high speed.  On this day though, I could see him sitting in the sun in his usual place at the rear of the pond.  I raised the camera to my eye and hit the release button.  Then I took a few steps closer and shot another picture.  He knew I was there but at this point remained compliant with my desire to capture his image in profile.  I took a few more steps and then took another picture.  I was now at the front edge of the pond and he at the far side, a distance of about 6 feet.  He started to get nervous, lifted his head, I took one more picture and then he was gone.  But at least now I have one decent photograph of him.

Basilisks are iganian lizards that prefer a watery habitat and can commonly be found around bodies of water, creeks and rivers.  They grow to approximately 3 feet in length and are generally found foraging for food around aquatic habitats.  They are omnivores hunting everything from arthropods, fish, amphibians, small reptiles, birds and a wide variety of vegetative material.

Basiliscus basiliscus

The adult males have the distinctive crest at the back of the head as well as the impressive fan that runs down the back and the dorsal surface of the tail.  These features are missing in both the juveniles and females of all ages.  They are known by many as Jesus Christ lizards due to their ability to run across the surface of the water without breaking the surface tension.  The young ones are much more adept at this than are their adult peers who given a good run at it may make some distance before succumbing to the effects of gravity, fall forwards and finally have to swim the rest of the way.

Final Fruit

The bumper crop of mangos, rambutans and star fruit from trees around the grounds that have graced the dishes in the restaurant over the past 3 or 4 months has now dwindled to a few remaining hanging from the trees, their taste long lost with the dying sunny days.  Some fallen mangoes still lie fermenting on the ground under the trees that bore them.  Their fermenting remains are providing one last feast for several creatures.  At night an occasional Crab-eating Raccoon, (Procyon crancrivorus), can be seen eating the fallen fruit, occasionally in the company of the Common Opossum, (Delphis marsupialis).  Kinkajous, (Poto flavus), and some of the monkeys particularly White-faced and Spiders are taking the last remaining fruit in the trees.  One night I saw a female Crab-eating Raccoon bring her 2 new offspring to share in the pungent feast.

Mango with bees

The next day on the ground I could see a fallen mango that had a huge number of bees feeding from the pulp.  The bees were uniformly black and were probably Stingless Bees of the tribe Meliponini belonging to the family Apidae, (which also contains the honey bees).  Again with due care and respect, I managed to get very close for the photograph.

Finally when returning back to my cabin there was a tiny spider on the ground which when it saw me, turned to face me and then gave that look that only a jumping spider can.  The anterior pair of eyes is very large and provides the binocular vision vital to an arachnid that stalks and then leaps upon its prey like miniature eight-legged tiger.

Saltacidae

The hind legs are short and powerful enough to allow the spider to jump some distance relative to its body size.  The front legs are long and designed to catch the prey generally before it knows what has happened.  The jumping spiders always attach a piece of silk before they leap into another creatures oblivion so secure them incase they should become dislodged.

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

Almost Stung Again

Last week I posted on the blog some pictures and a short article about Long-waisted Wasps.  If you are careful and look diligently under the leaves of low growing plants you will find that there are a great many paper wasp nests in the area.  I noticed another nest not too far from the restaurant but with some of the Polistes paper wasps attending this one.  The nest was in an awkward place to photograph but with a bit of cautious maneuvering I knew I could access it and hopefully without antagonizing the vengeful little bearers of a venom laden stinger.  I managed to get quite close and obtain some pictures before accidently knocking the leaf under which they were perched.  At one and the same time the aggressive females took to the air, their intentions solely to encourage me to depart, so I made a slow and deliberate retreat and left them to go about their business without further provocation.

Polistes sp         Paper Wasps         Polistes sp

Polistes sp         Paper Wasps         Polistes sp

Just as with Long-waisted Wasps, (which belong to the same family, Vespidae and subfamily, Polistinae), they produce unenclosed nests of chewed up plant fiber composed of one comb with a varying numbers of cells.  There will be one queen whose dominance is asserted over the other females in attendance by fighting.  Initially there may be several females capable of reproduction and as fast as they lay eggs their rivals consume them.  The fastest eater wins and becomes queen.

Paper Wasp

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

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • Crab-eating Raccoon
  • Kinkajou

Birds

  • Mealy Amazon
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Great Curassow
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Purple-crowned Fairy
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • House Wren
  • Riverside Wren
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

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

Amphibians

  • 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

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Arawacus lincoides
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Cissia confusa
  • Consul fabius
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Junonia evarete
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Parides erithalion
  • Perophthalma lassus
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Siproeta stelenes
  • Taygetis Andromeda
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus tanna

Plants

  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Bauhinia variegata Flowering
  • Cananga odorata Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering
  • Citrus spp  Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Fruiting
  • Clusia vallerii Fruiting
  • Cocos nucifera Flowering andFruiting
  • Crestentia alata flowering and Fruiting
  • Costus specioas 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
  • 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

THE SMALLER MAJORITY – PIOTR NASKRECKI   Leave a comment


Philips’ Book Reviews

THE SMALLER MAJORITY – PIOTR NASKRECKI

Piotr Naskrecki is very much a man after my own heart; he likes small things.  In this book, The Smaller Majority, he takes you on a journey through the world that lies all around you but not so often explored.  It is a world that is not hidden; it just requires a change in perception and perspective to bring it to the fore.

Most people when they visit a new area or the first time whether it be visiting a country or a previously unfamiliar habitat such as a desert, coral reef or rainforest, they see the big picture.  The cities are new and exciting, the people are exotic and there may be so many strange plants and animals.  Your senses can be overloaded with experience of the unknown.

After a period of time though, if you start to look closer, you will find a myriad of fantastic and amazing forms of life right in front of your eyes, life that we sometimes take for granted and may even consider pests; insects, arachnids and fungi.

Piotr Naskrecki takes us into this small world with the aid of some spell binding photography.  Through his lens we get to view at close quarters so many animals that would normally remain hidden from our sight.  The book is lavishly illustrated with macro photographs of crabs, frogs, beetles, katydids, (he has a special interest in katydids), spiders, ants and butterflies.

The expertly written text provides a compelling insight to the natural history of these animals.  Piotr has a lifelong interest in his subject and that is reflected in the prose.  He is also a scientist but his style is not dry, rather eloquent and entertaining.  He has also been fortunate to pursue his studies and photography all over the world providing a wonderful cross section of small life forms inhabiting rainforests, savannahs and deserts.

There is a small chapter at the end of the book that details equipment and techniques to help you enter the small world for yourself.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable book which once you have finished reading it will sit as an attractive coffee table book enticing other readers to enter a world that they not have realized existed.  I would recommend the Small Majority to anyone, familiar or not with its subject matter as a first step into this microcosm.

http://www.amazon.com/Smaller-Majority-Piotr-Naskrecki/dp/0674025628/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330021309&sr=1-1

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.

Bosque del Cabo March 2011 Nature Review   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog March 2011 Review

March continues as February left off with very low rainfall, if any at all and with high temperatures.  This distinct dry period results in the classification of the forests of Bosque as tropical season forest rather than strictly tropical wet forest.  Even though the temperatures may occasionally hit the 100’s Fahrenheit they never get to be those blistering Mediterranean temperatures.

The forest floor has started to crack with a network of daily ever widening fissures.  The vegetation is starting to take on the tired look of yellows and browns with the edges of leaves starting to look disheveled.  Even though the air feels dry, the relative humidity will still remain at 60 – 70%.

Those trees that started flowering in December will by now be producing fruit.  Not far from the Bosque restaurant are some spectacular Guanacaste trees, (Enterolobium cyclocarpum).  This is the national tree of Costa Rica.  The fruits have the distinct look of a hard crusty ear.  It takes up to a year for the fruit to be produced after flowering has ceased.  The Latin name roughly equates to circular fruit shaped like the small intestine.  The seeds will remain dormant within the tough outer coating until such time as it is breached and they can germinate.

Enterolobium cyclocarpum

Not too far from the Guanacaste trees is a large spreading but low crowned Cashew tree, (Anacardium occidentale).  In March the tree was heavy with fruit but you would be ill-advised to just help yourself.  The shell of the nut contains a cocktail of chemicals which if handled can prove to be a very unpleasant experience; anacardic acids similar to those found in Poison Ivy and equally as effective as a nasty skin irritant as well as phenolic resins which too produce profound allergenic reactions.  It is best just to leave the nuts on the tree and eat your cashews from packets.

Anacardium occidentale

Reptiles and amphibians featured prominently this March.  Not too far into a Primary Forest Tour with a group of clients I noticed a Glass Frog, (Espadarana prosoblepon), tucked up on the top of a leaf.  I guessed it wouldn’t become active again until the sun had set so providing me with the opportunity to return in the afternoon and get some pictures.  Most of the amphibian life we have at Bosque can be seen with little effort around the pond or on the forest floor.  The Glass Frogs prefer running water and you need to spend more time around the creek that runs through Bosque in order to find them.  This one, for whatever reason was away from any source of water.  It was still there when I returned later in the day, so I got the shots I wanted.  They are called Glass Frogs because of the transparent nature of their skin which allows you to see the bones and viscera within.

Espadarana prosoblepon      Espadarana prosoblepon      Espadarana prosoblepon

Espadarana prosoblepon

I found two the larger species of Anolis lizard not far from my cabin, the Lichen Anole, (Norops pentaprion) and the Pug-nosed Anole, (Norops capito).  The short stubby nose of the Pug-nosed Anole gives it the name.  Both species are frequently seen on forest walks.

Norops pentaprion

Norops capito

The high air temperatures contributed to an early hatch of Green Iguanas, (Iguana iguana).  Several nests had hatched at once within the vicinity of the restaurant so you didn’t have to go too far to find them.  The large adults are rarely seen as they spend most of their time at the tops of the trees.

Iguana iguana

The Parrot Snake, (Ahaetulla leptophis), is a lithe and graceful hunter of lizard, frogs and frog’s eggs.  It is a diurnal snake and is often found around water.  It has those two huge, beautiful, forward facing eyes that may allow for some depth perception when visibly hunting its prey. This individual was found around the lodge swimming pool.  Amongst the branches of a bush they are hard to spot, and even more difficult to focus upon once that fluid, serpentine body starts to glide through the vegetation.

Ahaetulla leptophis      Ahaetulla leptophis      Ahaetulla leptophis

Ahaetulla leptophis

The Litter Snake, (Rhadinea decorata), on the other hand is a terrestrial snake that spends a lot of time burrowing under leaf litter on the forest floor.  The shape of the head, with the slightly upturned snout facilitates an easier subsurface passage as it hunts for litter organisms on which to feed.

Rhadinea decorata      Rhadinea decorata      Rhadinea decorata

Rhadinea decorata

Every building at Bosque is probably going to provide a home for at least one of the largest geckoes we have here, the Central American Smooth Gecko, (Thecadactyla rapicauda).  People are quite often alarmed to find one behind a painting or mask decorating a cabin wall.  They are totally harmless and should even be welcomed as a roommate as they are voracious insect feeders.

Thecadactylis rapicauda

To bring the March review to a close, here is the usual collection of arthropods.  Of the many species of Longwing butterflies that can be found on the grounds of Bosque, most of them are flying over the full 12 month period, obviously not the same individuals but the species.  One species though is on the wing for only a short period maybe with 2 separate generations, Laparus doris.  For whatever reason, this was doris’s year.  The time period had not changed from normal but the number of individuals was greatly increased.  This one species has 3 different color forms, red, blue and green, all of which can often be seen flying together.

Laparus doris

My research at Bosque involves the daily monitoring of butterflies and amphibians.  You would have thought that opportunities to record new species would only occur very rarely after an 11 year study period.  But the butterflies do turn up new species, sometimes in numbers of 2 or 3 a week.  This Burning Firetip, (Yangura cosyra), was a new species record for the lodge back in March.

Yangura cosyra

In the evening, just as the last dying rays of the sun disappear and the sky darkens, small green eyes seem to emerge and take flight.  All is not what it seems, these are the bioluminescent spots on the thorax of the Fire beetles.  They have the ability to brighten and darken the spots at will.  When flying, the abdomen lights up with a bright orange bioluminescence.

Fire Beetle

There are beetles though that, once again, defy identification, despite their bizarre and one would think very distinctive body form.

Unidentified Beetle

Unidentified Beetle

Normally nesting in round paper nests, these Paper Wasps took up residence in a rotting tree stump instead.  Every time I went to get a photo, within a 2 or 3 minute period, groups of wasps would take to the air, closely investigating what they perceived as a potential threat to the nest.

Polybia sp

Katydids are always worth a photo whenever you find them.  This one was more of a broad leaf mimic.

Leaf-mimicking Katydid

Land crabs, (Gecarcinus quadratus), emerged in large numbers during the month of March.  Although they live some distance from water on the forest floor, they still breathe using gills.  This limits their behavior to inhabiting deep burrows during the day and emerging at night when the temperatures have decreased and the humidity rises.

Gecarcinus quadratus

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming books:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

The Small World of Bosque del Cabo

The Colors of Bosque del Cabo

A Children’s Guide to Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge

Temperature and Rainfall

Average M Temp High 94°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 74°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.04 ins.  Total Monthly Rainfall 1.28 ins

Average Daily Temp High 34.3°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 23.0°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 1.0 mm.  Total Monthly Rainfall 32.5 mm

 

Bosque del Cabo December 2010 Nature Review   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog Dec 2010 Review

December is that time of the year when the rain become less frequent, the sun shines more often and visitors start to arrive in numbers.  It also marks a transitional period for plant and animal activity and behavior.

As the weather changes and both the air and ground start to become drier, it marks the start of the flowering season for many of the trees.  The forests of Bosque are broadleaved evergreen forests.  In deciduous forests, as temperatures rise and day length increases, just before the trees leaf up again, the forest floor will be carpeted with a beautiful variety of spring flowering plants.  They are low growing and delicate.  The air will be filled with the various scents of many floral perfumes.

The tropical wet forests of Bosque are quite different.  As the trees are perpetually in leaf, little sunlight consequently hits the forest floor.  Those vegetative layers that lie beneath the canopy are scantily clad and flowers are not a common sight.  The spring flowers of a rainforest are the trees themselves along with the heavy load of epiphytic growth that they support in their upper branches.  Here you will find ferns, orchids, vines and surprisingly enough, cacti.

Tropical rainforest flowers tend to be large and strikingly bold in color, reds, oranges and yellows bringing the canopy into a fiery blaze whose glory can only be seen from above.  These colors attract birds and butterflies which the plants use as couriers, ferrying the pollen from the blossoms of one tree to another.  The tropics have another pollinator, one not found in temperate forests, nectar-feeding bats.  They prefer to feed on the nectar of pallidly colored and nauseatingly odiferous flowers.

Migrant birds are still found all around the grounds, particularly the Summer Tanager which can be seen and heard anywhere around the restaurant.  It doesn’t take too much effort to find some of the different warbler species that spend the majority of the dry season around the grounds.

Apart from the migrants, a myriad of other bird species can be observed on the grounds and in a variety of habitats in the localities surrounding Bosque.

Mammal activity varies little over the course of the year.  All 4 species of monkey will be seen on any of the trails, you choose one, walk, and you are bound to find something.  Peccaries, squirrels, armadillos, agoutis and coatis can usually be found on a morning’s walk.  With a little foreknowledge some of the bats species can be located and observed in their daytime roosts.

Amphibian activity has declined by now, but with a little patience, most of those species present in abundance in the wet season can still be found in the dry season.  Reptiles too, especially lizards will start to basking more frequently on the trails, feeding up in readiness for the breeding season.  It is now that the Central American Whiptails will start to develop the bright blue tails.

If you do come before the Christmas crowds start to arrive, or even if you do come over the holiday period, you will be guaranteed the grounds of Bosque del Cabo will provide you with some of the best wildlife experiences Costa Rica has to offer.  Here is a photographic log of some of the fauna and flora seen last December.

What can I say, more scorpion photos.  This is the other commonly found scorpion in the forests of Bosque, Centruroides bicolor.  They grow to about 5 or 6 inches from chelicerae to sting and they do pack a painful sting.  I have, in fact, been stung on several occasions by this species and survived.  The initial pain is intense but fades very quickly.

Here are two totally terrestrial frogs, Craugastor fitzingeri and Craugastor rugosus, both of which are found on the ground on the Bosque trail system.  These are two species of Rain Frog that have done away with the necessity to return to water to reproduce, rather laying but a few large yolk filled eggs in the leaf litter on the forest floor.  The complete development takes place within the egg and after several months a fully formed but copy of the adult emerges.

Craugastor rugosus

Butterfly numbers in December remain low but as with everything else, if you take the time, you will find them.  Skippers continue to provide a perennial problem in terms of identification but it is still fun to try and sneak up on them.  Some of my favorite butterflies are the Satyrs or browns.  One of the commonest butterflies on the grounds of Bosque is a small and almost imperceptible little satyr, Hermeuptychia hermes.  It is present 12 months of the year but is very small and flies no more than an inch or so above the ground, so its presence is probably missed by most people.  One of my favorite butterflies is the forest dwelling Pareuptychia ocirrhoe.  In the gloomy understory, a stroboscopic flicker of white reveals its whereabouts before it lands and the light and dark stripes on the underwing surfaces blend its form into the background and so it disappears from in front of your eyes.

Unidentified Skipper

Hermeuptychia hermes

Pareuptychia ocirrhoe

Green orchids, blue peas, purple passion vine and maroon Dutch pipes are just some of the less garish poster colors that subtly deck some of the December blooms.  Most of Costa Rica’s orchid species are epiphytic, growing high up in the canopy on the trunks and branches of trees.  This green bloomed species I found nearer the ground.  It flowered twice during the course of the year, December and again in September.  The peas were in flower most of the year in the open areas and roadsides.  There are several species of Passion Vine growing naturally at Bosque; the red bloomed Passiflora vitifolia, the square stemmed Passiflora quadrangularis and this, Passiflora ambigua.  When I came across the blooms they were spent and lying on the ground, but still had color and form interesting enough to photograph.

Green Orchid

Pea Plant

Passiflora ambigua

Dutchman's Pipe

Insects can be found all year round and in whichever location you care to concentrate.  Nobody really knows the numbers of insect species living in any given area.  I enjoy finding individuals of species that I have never seen before, and that occurs frequently, even with orders such as butterflies that I have studied more intensively.  This cockroach ranks amongst many similar species that I seen at Bosque as does the katydid but both elude identification.

Tropical Cockroach

Tropical Katydid

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming books:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

The Small World of Bosque del Cabo

The Colors of Bosque del Cabo

A Children’s Guide to Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge

Temperature and Rainfall

Average M Temp High 84°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 72°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.63 ins.  Total Monthly Rainfall 19.48 ins

Average Daily Temp High 28.5°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.0°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 15.95 mm.  Total Monthly Rainfall 494.33 mm

 

Call of a Fallen Star   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog Sept 26th 2011

On the Verge

The weather continues as it has for months now with bright sunny days.  There is the ever present promise of rain in the air and on several nights over the past week we have been subject to torrential downpours.  One night the clouds delivered nearly 5 inches of rain between dusk and dawn.

Paper Stings

There are several structures around the grounds at the minute that made of paper but not manmade origami.  Just a stroll around the grounds taking a peak under some of the palm leaves will reveal small round gray papery globes with a small oval hole at the front.  They are the nests of various species of Paper Wasp.  It is best not to get too close to observe these pieces of natural artistic paper sculptures but rather admire their beauty from a distance.

Paper Wasp Nest

The wasps themselves can be anything up to 1.5 inches in length to just a few tenths of an inch.  The larger wasps such as the Drumming Wasps have large nests that attached to the underside of the tree branches.  The smaller ones, you are more likely to find closer to ground level.

Paper Wasp Nest

The wasps are carnivores and are usually out foraging for arthropod prey to feed the larvae.  Wasps of the genus Polistes make open nests usually hanging pendulously from a stalk-like structure.  These wasps belong to the genus Polybia which have their nests enclosed within the paper shell.

Fallen Star

As most of the life in a rainforest is at the top of the trees, for the most part your gaze is going to upwards.  But if you keep your eyes on the ground, there is another stratum of life at your feet.  Here some unusual things occasionally turn up but they aren’t always obvious.

Everyone is familiar with the usual form of mushrooms and toadstools, but they do take other forms.  The family Geastraceae or Earth Stars, produces some intriguing sessile fruiting bodies that split andpeel back like a banana skin producing the star shaped structure from which they obtain their name.  The globous spore sac has an opening at the top that that releases the spores into the air in small bursts when hit by a rain drop.

Earth Star Fungus

Earth stars can be found singly or in groups in temperate and tropical forests.  They are definitely worth a photograph if you should happen to come across them.

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

It Is A Mystery What Katydid

Katydids are in the same insect order as grasshoppers and crickets.  They can at least be identified as distinct from grasshoppers by their long filamentous whip-like antennae.  Katydids are generally not hard to find around the grounds of Bosque, but you need a keen eye as many of them are master mimics of the vegetation amongst which they live.  The body can be shaped like leaves and have a subtle mix of dappled greens and grays to break up the outline.  Others look exactly like dead leaves, brown in color with veining and false fungal damage spots.  Yet others are bright green with lime green edging to resemble plant shoots.

      

Katydids tend to be heard rather than seen.  The evening air is filled with the calls of males searching for a mate.  Some of the calls are soft and whispering whereas others can be loud and course.  The name Katydid comes from the call of the male which is apparently how it sounds to some.  Orthopterists can identify katydids in the field by their calls.  If you would like to hear some visit:

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/walker/buzz/a00samples.htm

Katydid Head

The katydids in these photographs I found close by each other near to my cabin.  Out came the camera and despite the fact every time I placed myself to get the shot, the katydid moved, I still managed to get some half decent images.

Katydid Head

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 87°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 75°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 1.02 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 7.16 ins

Average Daily Temp High 30.6°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 23.5°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 23.2 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 162.1 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Agouti
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Common Opossum

Birds

  • Orange-chinned Parakeets
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Great Currasow
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Common Paureque
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • Rufus-tailed Hummingbird
  • Violet-crowned Woodnymph
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Streak-headed Woodcreeper
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Bananaquit
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Gray-headed Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Southern Beardless Tyrannulet
  • Streaked Flycatcher
  • Tropical Kingbird
  • Mourning Warbler
  • Tennessee Warbler
  • White-shouldered Tanager
  • Yellow Warbler
  • House Wren
  • Riverside Wren
  • Masked Tityra
  • Black-thoated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Pug-nosed Anolis
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Parrot Snake
  • Salmon-bellied Racer

Amphibians

  • Marine Toad
  • Parachuting Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Banana Frog
  • Small-headed Frog
  • Smokey Jungle Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog
  • Tink Frog

Butterflies

  • Anartia Fatima
  • Calospila celissa
  • Dryas iulia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Magneuptychia libye
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Phoebis sennae

 Plants

  • Bamboo Orchid Flowering
  • Black Alligator Tree Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering
  • Clusia Vine Fruiting
  • Dinner on a Plate Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Golden Trumpet Vine Flowering
  • Hog Plum Fruiting
  • Ox Eye Vine Flowers
  • Protium Fruits
  • Royal Palms flowering and fruiting
  • Santa Maria Fruiting
  • Yayito Fruiting
  • Ylang Ylang flowering

Bees Whose Bite is Worse Than Their Sting   Leave a comment


Felipe del Bosque Blog June 19th 2011

More of the Same

The weather continues to stay settled with bright, dry days and a little rain at night.  We are experiencing an occasional daytime shower but nothing like the torrential rains from the beginning of the rainy season.  Hopefully things will continue in this fashion until September when we will be expecting heavier rain of longer duration.

For the moment, all unstable vegetation seems to have already fallen.  That is not to say there will be no further tree falls over the coming months, but there have been no more large trees bite the dust, (that should be, wet forest floor), over the past week.

A team of experts were called in to cut up those unfortunate trees that were standing in the path of the giant Milky Tree that fell last week.  Even though the Milky Tree itself had little value in terms of lumber, the others did.  They were cut up in situ and the planking was then taken to be stored in the wood yard for future construction projects.

Counting By Numbers

People who study ants are known as myrmecologists and there are not too many of them.  Most of the visitors to the forests that encompass Bosque del Cabo did not realize before they arrived that they would be leaving having become enamored by the fascinating world of ants.  For those ant fans out there, at the moment, the ants are out in force.  During the dry season it is not always easy to view the flowing green rivers of freshly cut leaf being carried by none other than the Leaf-cutter Ants.  During the dry season they tend to work at transporting the leaf material back to the nest after the sun has set.  But now, when there is a break in the rain, any of the trails at Bosque will provide you with ample opportunity to marvel at this incredible spectacle.

Another type of ant, whose presence can be equally as obvious, is the Army Ant.  There are several different species of Army Ant in the area and to the untrained eye they may look to be one and the same.  Whether they are larger or smaller, they have the same characteristic habit of moving in a congested column and always with purpose.  Unlike the Leaf-cutter Ants which are mycovores, (fungus eaters), the Army Ants are strictly carnivores.  Over the past week, I have been able to show people the feeder columns heading back to the bivouac, (they don’t have an established nest, they are nomads).  With close scrutiny you can see a huge amount of dismembered arthropods being taken into the bivouac to feed the larvae.  On occasion we will happen across a foraging front over 60 feet across, moving across the forest floor and dispatching anything small enough that did not have time to move out of the way.

The Comfort Zone

On the site of the “Killer Wasp” attack from a few weeks ago, we now have a new resident, something a little more tranquil by nature, a female Long-billed Hummingbird.  She has chosen the underside of a leaf from a palm just to the side of the kitchen, behind the reception, to build her nest.  The nest is still under construction.  If you look closely you will see the strands of spider silk she has used to fix the nest to the leaf.  Following the addition of each new piece, the female then sits inside to try it out, with the bill facing the underside of the leaf.  She appears to be in a most uncomfortable looking position but it is how she will stay while incubating the eggs.  Hopefully I will get more photographs as the nest is completed.  There have been Long-billed Hummingbird nests in the same area, different leaves, in the past.  Their proximity to a busy human though fare does not appear to deter them.

Long-billed Hummingbird Nest

What Katydid

On one of the nightly “Sunset Tours” this week, I saw an unusual looking Katydid sitting on a leaf of the Calabash Trees.  There is nothing unusual about seeing an unusual looking Katydid as many of them display strange morphological characteristics.  There are a great many Katydids that have evolved to resemble various plant parts.  The Pseudoleaf Katydids in particular are intriguing creatures.  This one resembled nothing I had ever seen before.  The wings were raised up above its back which brought to mind the prehistoric Dimetrodon.  The color of the katydid was a mix of cryptic browns and grays that I can only imagine would blend in with the background color of the tree bark.

Katydid       Katydid       Katydid

Katydid

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

Blooming Orchids and Stingless Bees

Over recent weeks, while taking guests out on tour through the primary forest, I noticed an orchid that had been growing on the side of a tree for many years had started to produce flower buds.  This particular orchid had flowered every year and this year I kept a watch for bud development as I knew that the flowers would soon follow.  Over the course of a few days the flower buds lengthened and then on this day as I walked past, there were the flowers.  So after lunch it was back on the same trail with camera to get the images.

Stanhopea cirrhata

The orchid is a Tendril Stanhopea, (Stanhopea cirrhata).  It is a Neotropical orchid of which there are 55 species, 3 occurring in Costa Rica, but only one on the Osa Peninsula.  Stanhopea orchids are normally found in cooler climes, but Stanhopea cirrhata prefers growing exactly where this one is; in tropical lowland wet forest, low down on a branch in a less sunny location and close to the creek.  The flowers occur as a pair and give off a very sweet fragrance which not surprisingly attracts in male Orchid Bees, which are the plants main pollinators.  When I arrived to take the photograph, there was an Orchid Bee hovering in front but it did not wait for me to capture its image for later identification.

Stanhopea cirrhata

There had been some other bees that I had taken a mental note to return and photograph on the same trail as the orchids.  A few weeks previous I saw a swarm of brilliant orange/yellow bees gathering on plant leaves, close to the ground, at the base of a Milky Tree.  Following their appearance, over the course a week or so, a long waxy tube started to form from a crevice in the tree.  The tube was reddy orange in color, and extended 6 inches or more horizontally from the tree trunk.  These were one of the species of Stingless Bees, (Tetragonisca angustula).  The color of the tube depends upon the type of flowers that the bees have visited.  Incorporated into the wax you may also find mud and plant fibres.

They may be stingless but they can certainly bite and hard too.  They are renowned for their tenacity, swarming on mass into the mouths, ears and nose of those who antagonized them.  Some species as they bite release caustic secretions which burn.

Stingless Bees

Before the introduction of the European Honey Bee, Stingless Bees were the main source of honey for the indigenous peoples of Costa Rica and many of them still prefer Stingless Bee honey.  The honey itself has been clinically proved to have an antibiotic property.  You have to be careful which bees you are using though as some of them make a honey poisonous to humans.

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 83°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 74°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.33 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 2.28 ins

Average Daily Temp High 27.9°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 23.1°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 8.3 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 57.9 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Capuchin Monkey
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Agouti

Birds

  • Orange-chinned Parakeets
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Great Currasow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Mangrove Black Hawk
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Yellow-headed Caracara
  • Common Paureque
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Rufus Piha
  • Rufus-tailed Hummingbird
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Great Tinamou
  • Little Tinamou
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Masked Tityra
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • House Wren
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Pug-nosed Anole
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Litter Snake
  • Salmon-bellied Racer

Amphibians

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

Butterflies

  • Adelpha cytherea
  • Caligo eurilochus
  • Chioides albofasciata
  • Colobura dirce
  • Corticea corticea
  • Cupido comyntas
  • Detritivora gynaea
  • Dryas iulia
  • Euphyes vestries
  • Eurybia lycisca
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Junonia everete
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Pierlla helvina
  • Pierella luna
  • Pseudolycaena damo
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrisitia nise
  • Siproeta stelenes
  • Urbanus simplicius

 Plants

  • Astrocaryum Palm Fruiting
  • Black Alligator Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Cedrillo Fruiting
  • Clusia Vine Fruiting
  • Devil’s Little Hat Fruiting
  • Dinner on a Plate Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering and Flowering.
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Inga Fruiting
  • May Tree Fruiting
  • Manglillo Fruiting
  • Nutmeg Fruiting
  • Royal Palm Fruiting
  • Santa Maria Flowering and Fruiting
  • Stanhopea Orchid Flowering
  • Stinky Toe Fruiting
  • Ylang ylang Flowering
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