DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
     
  Fauna- 8 LEGS OR MORE  

 

This page mainly deals with spiders and custaceans, with a millipede thrown in.   Spiders constitute the biological Order Araneae, with over 40,000 species described, and ongoing battles regarding systems of classification.  Although many people have an inate fear of spiders, very few species can deliver a life-threatening bite, and most of those seem to live in Australia.  Scientists have long sought a method of making their unbelievably strong silk in industrial quantities, but that is still one of the spiders secrets.  Almost all spiders are predators.

 

A Costa Rican Orange (or Red) Kneed (or Legged) Tarantula comes out of its burrow to see who tapped at its entrance.  It has many names, and even its latin handle, Megaphobema mesomelas is not safe, as many seem to assume it is of the Brachypelma genus. Click to see big picture (406x480 pixels; 94 KB)
It decides that tourists are not edible and retires.  It is lucky to be living in a protected area near Monte Verde, as this and related species have been heavily poached for the pet trade. Click to see big picture (382x480 pixels; 96 KB)
The female Back Widow is the one local spider that can be dangerous.  This is the western form Latrodectus hesperus, which only get into northern Mexico, but it has a southern cousin (L. mactans). black widow
An Ecuadorian Woolly Tarantula (Avicularia huriana) defends its nest in the Jatun Sacha Reserve in the upper Napo Valley, Ecuador.  That's the nest above. 
Avicularia huriana is also known as the Ecuadorian Pinktoe Tarantula.  Here it bares its fangs defending its nest.  Time to back off.
This seems to be some sort of 'water tarantula', found in a tank bromeliad in the El Dorando Reserve, northeastern Colombia.
A large and hairy spider awaits by my door in Nicaragua. Those who know more about spiders than I inform me that it is a male of the Cupienius genus. Click to see big picture (322x480 pixels; 76 KB)
From Panama, a much smaller spider that was introduced as a wanderer.  I will have to take the guide's word on this one. Click to see big picture (548x480 pixels; 88 KB)
Near a pond in Panama, a Fishing Spider of the Dolomedes genus.  (D. intermedius is the only species listed for Panama.) Click to see big picture (487x480 pixels; 96 KB)
Ancylometes bogotensis, the Giant Fishing Spider awaits in the Canal Zone of Panama.  This species is said to be able to walk on water, dive for extened periods and even weave a web under water.  It range is from Costa Rica to northern Argentina.
A Giant Orb Weaver or Giant Wood Spider hanging across a trail in its web, whose strands are said to be six times stronger than steel of the same thickness.   Meet Nephila Clavipes. Click to see big picture (503x480 pixels; 85 KB)
This shows the underside of the Giant Orb Weaver, and also the often tangled nature of its web.  It is only the females that are this large.  The photo on the left also shows a diminutive male, as well as a moth which has been captured. Click to see big picture (640x463 pixels; 105 KB)
The giant orb weaver is also known as the Golden Orb Weaver or Araña de Seda Dorado, and in the proper light the webs can be seen to be a yellow color.  These do bite, especially when they find themselves plastered to your face by their own web, but for most people it is no worse than a bee sting. Click to see big picture (640x448 pixels; 94 KB)
A rather large sheetweb spider from near the Jatun Sacha Reserve in Ecuador.  Most spiders officially known as 'sheetweb' are rather small, so this one may be classed some other way.
Some spiders look a bit like crabs, and even walk sideways.  The popular term 'crab spider' does not have any scientific pidgeon hole, however. Click to see big picture (526x480 pixels; 78 KB)
On the other hand, the Jumping Spiders, belong to the Salticidae Family, and are more than 5000 species strong with many still hiding out.   They tend to be compact, with big eyes, and they can indeed jump. Click to see big picture (640x426 pixels; 94 KB)
These are often called Two Tailed Spiders for their rear appendeges.  They are of the Neotama genus, and for some reason are also called Tree Trunk Spiders. Click to see big picture (585x480 pixels; 151 KB)
The top view of a Silver Argiope spider (Argiope argentata) which is widespread in the Neotropics.  This one has built its web in front of a bulletin board in Soberania Park headquarters in Panama.
Argiope argentata (the Silver Argiope) may be found in this odd pose from the U.S. to Argentina, prefering dryer areas to the true rain forests.  Known in Latin America as Araña Escritora (the writing spider), it often makes zigzag patterns in its webs, but this one has been too lazy to comply. Click to see big picture (433x480 pixels; 62 KB)
A miniscule Argiope hiding under a leaf near Tena, Ecuador.  This may just be a juvenile, the web is not much bigger than a quarter.
Yes, it's a spider, not a UFO.   Gasteracantha cancriformis seems its official name, but if you have trouble pronouncing it, the thing has been published under more than 40 other latin names to choose from.  In English, Spiny Orb Weaver is common.  The local handle is Araña Panadera, although the relationship to a baker is difficult to see. Click to see big picture (640x474 pixels; 75 KB)
Leucauge venusta is known as the Orchard Orbweaver.  A small, brightly colored web weaver, it may be found from Canada to Colombia, and likely beyond.
This is the huge web of Anelosimus oximius, known as the Social or Community Spiders.  As the names would suggest, a whole colony build this nest web and live in it.  Here in the Darien of Panama, they are at the north limit of their range, which extends south into the Amazon Basin.

Millipedes such as this in Costa Rica are usually put down as Nyssodesmus python, although there are similar species which will be left to the taxonomists. This one smells of almonds, but don't try to eat it, that smell is cyanide, it's chief defence.

Click to see big picture (640x365 pixels; 104 KB)
There are some white millipedes to choose from, after all some 2700 species have collected in their Order Polydesmida.  On the other hand, most millipedes will look like this soon after they have molted.  Unlike centipedes, millipedes are herbivores and have two pairs of legs per segment. Click to see big picture (333x480 pixels; 90 KB)
A Caribbean Ghost Crab, likely Ocypode quadrata forsakes its usual nocturnal habits.  Note the perfect camouflage for the golden sands here in northeastern Panama.  It actually scuttles along beaches from the U.S. to Brazil. Click to see big picture (640x470 pixels; 182 KB)
While here on a dark, basaltic sands in southwestern Nicaragua, we have another species of ghost crab with matching coloration.   Note the eye stocks which give these Crustaceans a 360 degree vision. Click to see big picture (631x480 pixels; 182 KB)
Back to Panama for this rather strange spotted crab.  Most such apparitions seem to be from the Trapezia genus, the Guard Crabs, but no guarantees. Click to see big picture (540x480 pixels; 131 KB)
A Mangrove Fiddler Crab on the Pacific Coast of Panama's Darien Province.  Uca sp. is as close as I can get to a name.
And finally the after-dinner remains of a huge crustacean from the San Juan River of Nicaragua.  This is actually an enormous shrimp known as Camaron del Rio, Macrobrachium carcinus.  It can grow to 30 cm. and haunts rivers flowing into the southern Caribbean.   It is also yummy. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 101 KB)
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