Location: Costa Rica
My week long trip to Costa Rica left me with lifelong memories, but more importantly, a much expanded photo collection. I saw birds and basilisks, monkeys and sloths, frogs and toads; all things that I love.
But along my journey, between cracks on logs, beneath mounds of dirt, camouflaging against leaves, and even on bathroom floors, were the little guys I love most.
My first discovery was made at a bathroom stop near my hotel in Fortuna.
It was quite hard to miss, being a large green blob on a brown floor, but it was right by the door, so I was lucky to have not stepped on it. I crouched down with my Iphone8 in hand, and snapped a few pictures, forcing those who wanted to come in to step around me. It was a good thing too, otherwise I fear my little friend would have been squashed.
After the rather long bathroom stop, we continued to a dog rescue center in La Fortuna, where I made my second discovery of the trip.
It was extraordinarily large; bigger than my hand. While everyone went off to the pet the dogs (I have a strong fear of those furry little creatures), I stayed behind to take pictures of this massive insect.
A few days later, in Upala, I found my next fascinating bug. After eating a delicious sweet and sour chicken dinner at my hotel, I noticed a giant grasshopper-like insect hanging out on the window.
After arriving in Puntarenas and having the time of my life birdwatching, I hiked through the cloud forest. I didn’t see any mammals, reptiles, amphibians, or birds; but as I looked closer, I saw dozens of my tiny friends.
As I continued down the trail, I noticed a stream of red specks crawling alongside me. Several times I crouched down to see what they were, but every time I did, they disappeared beneath a fallen branch or a loose mound of dirt. Finally, after the knees of my black pants had turned completely brown, I decided to look further.
I lifted a broken log from where it had sunken in a pile of mud, and what I found beneath was quite a surprise.
I had absolutely no idea what they were. As a matter of fact, I still have no idea what they are! The way they swarmed together like a nest of ants, though they looked nothing like them, was very neat. I researched and used useful tools like iNaturalist to try and help, and the best I could come up with was that they were some kind of milkweed bug larvae. Whatever they were, I found it very cool.
A thousand more insects caught my eye during that hike. And these ones were my favourites.
I always loved leafcutter ants. As a child, my parents would take me to the Royal Ontario Museum, where I would watched the leafcutters snip the leaves from a leafy plant and deliver them back to their nest.
But this was different. It was better! These were wild leafcutter ants, and they were everywhere. I followed their trail for at least 500 meters, and it still went on after that. I couldn’t believe how far they went and how many there were.
The last thing I saw was a simple red and black leafhopper.
It wasn’t much, but it shows you exactly how much I was paying attention to every little thing around me.
Before leaving for my hike on the hanging bridges, I saw a very colourful moth dead on the rocks below.
I loved how its antennae looked like feathers and how its back was coated in fur and how its proboscis curled. It was a beautiful insect.
This last bug didn’t interest me too much at first. I just heard a buzzing by my ear and as I turned, I saw it land on a leaf. Naturally, I took a picture, as I do for every animal.
It didn’t look too interesting; it just seemed like an ordinary black wasp to me. But as I uploaded it to iNaturalist, I soon found out that I was the very first person to post a picture of this insect to the website.
Very fast, I became exceptionally fascinated with this wasp. I researched it more, and found that there hadn’t been very many public records, and that there was extremely little information on them. Every website mentioning their name has either a couple pictures of a dead one with a pin stuck through it, or no pictures at all, and only one or two sentences explaining what it is.
My picture is one of the few of this subspecies actually living in the wild. If you look up the name, Agelaia Xanthopus Melanotica (linked here), the image I took will be the second one you find!
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