DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
     
  Fauna- INSECTS  

 

More properly, this should be labeled "insects other than Butterflies", which have their own page.  There are over a million described species of our six-legged friends in the Class Insecta, and likely five to ten times that many remaining to be classified.  Most are of interest only to long-suffering entomologists with an impressive memory for latin names.  Some, however, are colorful, and others have found less pleasant ways to attract our attention. 

 

It's a rough life for tropical trees, and looking up it is often possible to see the handywork of hungry insects. Click to see big picture (640x430 pixels; 121 KB)
Lines of holes such as this occur when some insect has burrowed through a leaf while it is still rolled up before opening. Click to see big picture (453x480 pixels; 56 KB)
Other jungle leaves show this sort of a pattern, and I have no idea who the agent is.  The artists was clearly adverse to crossing the midrib in its wanderings.  If the creature started on the lower left, it seem to have become larger as it grazed. Click to see big picture (640x467 pixels; 132 KB)
Insects can also do a pretty good job of putting patterns on the human skin.  Line bites such as this are not uncommon, but I have never caught the perpetrator.  Click to see big picture (640x334 pixels; 54 KB)
These, on the other hand are Chigger bites, courtesy of the larvae of the Trombiculid mite.  They are locally known as Coloradillos, meaning little red ones, but at less than half a millimeter size they are seldom seen.  They can make Central American grasslands a hell. Click to see big picture (640x345 pixels; 51 KB)
One fascinating feature of the neotropics are the Leaf-cutter Ants.  Their long lines of heavily burdened workers snake through the forests in constant procession.  Their local name is Zompopas. Click to see big picture (592x480 pixels; 104 KB)
In most cases they bring their trophies down some tree trunk, then form a line through the woods.  Nearing the nest, various lines converge in some confusion.  They do not eat the leaves, but use them to grow an edible fungus. Click to see big picture (640x323 pixels; 109 KB)
The leaf-cutter nests and fungus gardens are underground, but the refuse is discarded on the surface, forming large piles over time. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 156 KB)
Some species of ants build huge hanging nests, as here in Panama.  These tend to be called Aztec Ants, but that term has also been used for species defending cecropia trees. Click to see big picture (561x480 pixels; 154 KB)
Ant and wasp or bees nests often situate next to each other for mutual protection against a variety of potential intruders. Click to see big picture (598x480 pixels; 136 KB)
The huge Bullet Ants can give a horrendous bite, likened to being hit by a bullet.  Locally these are called Hormiga Bala, a direct translation, but also Hormiga Veinticuatro, relating to the 24 hours of pain.  They are from the Paraponera genus, and the one on the left would likely respond to P. clavata. Click to see big picture (640x461 pixels; 94 KB)
Many of the social insects are rather antisocial when it comes to humans.  Here are two nests that it would be well not to approach too closely. Click to see big picture (616x480 pixels; 165 KB)
On a beach in northermost Colombia, some colorful paper wasps are building their communal nest in the thatch of a hut.  Interesting to watch, but not really welcome.
Large wasps said to pack a punch, building their nests on a ceiling of a refuge in the El Dorado Reserve, northeastern Colombia.
Some species of paper wasps found a new hive with a single pair, others with a swarm.  This group starting a nest in the Canal Zone of Panama are clearly swarm-founders, likely Polybia sp.
But the habits of wasps are extremely varied.  Here is a family scene from below a the rib of a large jungle leaf. Click to see big picture (640x424 pixels; 93 KB)
And here in the upper Napo Valley of Ecuador another species has chosen a colorful leaf to hang their home on.
Some wasps with names such as mud-daubbers build nest made in part of clay.  This is an unusually large one on display in the Minca Hotel, northeastern Colombia.
One of the most unusual social insects are the Stingless Bees.  Without much defense, they tend to construct special entrance tubes to their nests.  They are mainly from the Meliponini bee Tribe, and these yellow ones from Nicaragua are unusual. Click to see big picture (614x480 pixels; 124 KB)
Another species of stingless bees, in this case Costa Rican, but a similar style of nest entrance.  Here they are called Abeja Jicote or Abeja Atarra.  There are some 60 species documented in Costa Rica alone. Click to see big picture (390x480 pixels; 90 KB)
An iridescent fly, likely of the Lucilia genus of Green Bottle Flies, is sizing up a ruelia blossom.  These are Blow-flies which lay their eggs on carion.
Throughout the tropics, insects referred to as species of termites, run protective lines on tree trunks, up or down from their nests.  These are hard, brown, linear canopies protecting routes of travel. Click to see big picture (531x480 pixels; 128 KB)
Some 400,000 species of beetles have already been described, about 40% of all recognized insects.  Most do little to tempt a camera.  This, however, is Platyphora boucardi, also known as the Wasp Colored Leaf Beetle, which is fancy enough to have made it onto a Panamanian postage stamp. Click to see big picture (570x480 pixels; 109 KB)
Much smaller, but also colorful, this citizen of the Darien Province of Panama is a Flea Beetle of the Omphiota genus.
Bright colors indicate a poisonous species, real or faked.  This one is actually a colorful Fungus Beetle, Aegithus politus. Click to see big picture (493x480 pixels; 87 KB)
A beetle of the Cyclocephala genus, sunning itself at the Wildsumaco Lodge, Ecuador.
Of similar color, but this one in eastern Panama appears to be from the Pelidnota genus.  It looks a lot like P. sordida, but is out of range for that species.
As the outlandish antenna would suggest, this is one of the longhorn beetles.  Taeniotes amazonum may have "amazon" in its name, but it is mainly recorded from Panama, in this case from the Darien Province.
The Hardwood Stump Borer (Mallodon dasystomus) is found from the southern U.S. to here in Panama.  If molested, it can give a healthy bite, but it is the larva that bore into stumps.
The term "bug" is used loosely, but there is a biological Order, Hemiptera, which are known as the "true bugs".  These mainly suck plant juices, and many are agricultural pests.  The one on the left would likely answer to Hypselonotus concinnus. Click to see big picture (640x458 pixels; 83 KB)
While this yellow forehead member of the Leaf-footed Bugs, is Leptoglossus brevirostris.  The yellow spots are fake eyes, and I am told that it becomes very smelly if squished. Click to see big picture (640x429 pixels; 90 KB)
Stinkbugs are called Chinche de Monte in Central America, this one seems attracted to the vent of an outdoor toilet in Costa Rica. It is better off here, they eat them in Mexico.  They hale from the Pentatomidae Family, and this big green species with the pointy ears is likely Loxa virescens. Click to see big picture (404x480 pixels; 95 KB)
Assassin bugs can be a problem as many suck blood and some are disease vectors.  This one, Zelurus sp. from the upper Napo Valley, Ecuador, hunts other insects for a living, however.  The locals call these Chinchorros.
Most of the mass agglomerations of bugs one encounters are from the nymph stage.  They can still be quite startling. Click to see big picture (573x480 pixels; 104 KB)
I was told that this hardened foam shield in Costa Rica protected a cicada.  This seems odd, but then cicadas and spittlebugs are closely related within the Cicadomorpha Infraorder. Click to see big picture (293x480 pixels; 51 KB)
This is the female of the Damselfly Argia pulla in the Darien Province of Panama.  One might encounter this species from Mexico to northern South America.
A yellow-tipped Damsel Fly rests with its wings closed, which shows it is not a dragon fly.  Locally called Caballitos del Diablo, they are of the Suborder Zygoptera. Click to see big picture (361x480 pixels; 56 KB)
A Red-faced Dragonlet dragonfly (Erythrodiplax fusca) watches a part of the Upper Napo River in Ecuador.
A female Band-winged Dragonet (Erthrodiplax umbrata).  The species ranges from the southern U.S. to Argentina, but it is only the males which have banded wings.  This female carries a panamanian passport.
There about 8000 species of grasshoppers world-wide.  This colorful one in Oaxaca is in danger of becoming part of Mexican cuisine.  Click to see big picture (468x480 pixels; 70 KB)
Another colorful grasshopper, at the Wildsumaco Reserve in Ecuador.  These belong to the Pyrogomorphidae, known as the gaudy grasshopped family.
A Katydid, is trying very hard to look like a leaf.  There are some 6400 species of these things under the Super Family Tettigoniidae.  There is even a book on the Katydids of Costa Rica by P. Naskrecki, in case you are inspired. Click to see big picture (571x480 pixels; 108 KB)
One thing that separates Katydids from grasshoppers is their ridiculously long antennae. Click to see big picture (640x420 pixels; 69 KB)
And this Katydid nymph gipping  a bean pod in eastern Panama, also has long antenae. 
But when it comes to long antennae, these oversized crickets in southwestern Nicaragua are also exceptional.  There are roughly 900 species of cricket documented in the Gryllidae Family. Click to see big picture (446x480 pixels; 61 KB)
And when it comes to camouflage, this Praying Mantis is clearly a master.  These are ambush hunters, and depend on invisibility to succeed. Click to see big picture (386x480 pixels; 121 KB)
Walking Sticks depend on camouflage to survive.  Some are green and mimic foliage.  Others, such as this, mimic dead twigs.  So far there are about 3000 species in the taxonomically messy Order Phasmatodea.  In Central America they tend to be called Juanpalo. Click to see big picture (638x480 pixels; 98 KB)
In colors of red and yellow, Oreophoetes topoense, is a walking stick that is not trying to hide.  Perhaps it is poisonous.  From the Wildsumac Reserve, Ecuador.
And yet another bright walking stick from the same vicinity.  The colors of this Oreophoetes however, might well hide it on foliage.
In the heavy-weight division, may I introduce Megaceras morpheus, the Rhinoceros Beetle of Ecuador.  The local name is Escarabajo Rhinoceronte, and this one is a citizen of Pacallacta Valley, Ecuador.
The underside of the Ecuadorian Rhinoceros Beetle are more complex, but even here it is armored.
These large, buzzing black insects are like the southern Mexico version of the Carpenter Bee,  Xylocopa mexicanorum.