Natural history: Giant ant, although it does not generally represent a threat to humans, the destructive power of this incredible animal capable of forming colonies of more than 20 million individuals should never be underestimated.
And it is that the main strength of this voracious predator does not consist of its powerful jaws or its stinger capable of injecting formic acid, the most dangerous weapon of this insect is its large number.
It is an ant that is distributed from Brazil and Paraguay to the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua. This is a kind of omnivorous ant, it feeds on nectar and small arthropods such as beetles, lepidoptera larvae and spiders.
The ants forage solitary on the ground or in the shrub layer, where they search for nectar and small arthropods. They carry large drops of nectar between the jaws, the most frequent food that is carried towards the nest.
Ants have a clear control function in pests, without their presence they would destroy most of the crops, for this reason their work is mostly beneficial, even large-scale incursions usually generate a benefit for man, releasing any plague of free and completely effective.
Name: Menelaus blue morpho.
Scientific name: Morpho menelaus.
Natural history: Morpho butterflies are forest dwellers, but they venture into sunny glades to warm themselves. They generally live alone, excluding the mating season. Males are territorial and chase their rivals.
Morpho butterflies feed on fermented fruit juices with which they can also be attracted towards, and they wobble in flight which makes them very easy to catch. The complete life cycle of a Morpho butterfly, from egg to death, is approximately 137 days. The larvae molt four to six times before entering the pupal stage.
Adults live for about two to three weeks. Adults of the blue morpho spend most of their time on the forest floor and in low shrubs and understory trees with their wings folded.
However, when they are in search of mating, the blue morpho flies through all the layers of the jungle, and even in the treetops. The Morpho butterfly is the most common in Central America and one of the favorite species for both tourists and residents.
They are poisonous to predators thanks to the toxins they acquire from plants that feed on in the larval stage. Iridescent wings are used in jewelry making and as inlays in cabinetmaking.
Butterflies, in general, have many meanings within different cultures, with the most common meanings being life, love, change, and rebirth. They are also popularly thought to symbolize the essence or soul of a person, whether past, present or future.
The color blue in a butterfly is often thought to symbolize joy or a change of luck. They are sometimes seen as wish-granting. A blue butterfly is an example of Mother Nature that takes your breath away. Because of its beauty, a blue butterfly is thought to have special meaning or symbolism to people who see one.
Name: Gulf fritillary or spotted passion flower.
Scientific name: Agraulis vanillae.
Natural history: Agraulis vanillae (mirror, speckled passion flower or alalarga vanillae) is a striking species of bright orange butterfly, belonging to the Nymphalidae family and Heliconiinae subfamily.
Previously, they had been classified in a separate family, Heliconiidae or long-winged butterflies, and like other members of the group, this species has long wings compared to other butterflies.
Agraulis vanillae is a large butterfly, with a wingspan of 6-9.5 cm (2.4 to 3.7 inches). Its lower wings are beige, with large silver spots.
The caterpillar can grow to 4 cm. It is bright orange with rows of black spines. The chrysalis is 3 cm. It resembles a dry leaf.
Name: Golden silk orb-weaver.
Scientific name: Trichonephila clavipes.
Natural history: This spider is a Nephila, a genus of araneomorphic spiders, known as Golden Silk Spiders because of the color of the silk they produce. The threads of your web shine like gold in the sunlight.
The male is about 1/5 the size of the female spider. Gold silk spiders exhibit very interesting behavior. Often the female rebuilds half of her web each morning. Knitting the radial elements, then the circular elements are woven.
When you’ve finished weaving, go back and fill in the gaps. Also, young spiders show a vibrating motion when stalked by a predator.
This genus of spider has a powerful neurotoxic venom similar to that of the black widow, although less powerful, which is not lethal in humans.
The usual symptoms of the bite (local pain, redness, blisters) disappear in about 24 hours.Its spider silk is studied for its high resistance, so much so that in Indonesia it is used in the manufacture of clothing.
The extinct species Nephila Jurassic, which lived about 165 million years ago, reached a width of 15 centimeters between its legs, thus being the largest known fossilized spider.
Name: Red femured spotted orb-weaver.
Scientific name: Neoscona domiciliorum.
Natural history: The female has a total length that ranges from 7.2 to 16.2 mm; the male is 8-9 mm in total length. The scape of the epiginum in the female is relatively short, as in Neoscona arabesca, and has a pair of lateral protrusions near the base; the abdomen is in stark contrast, with a bright white or yellow on the dorsal anterior surface.
It has a gray or brownish color, covered with thick white mushrooms; cephalothorax with a blackish band starting at the edge; abdomen with several black markings and dark spots surrounding a cross shape; legs reddish-brown at the base with blackish rings; ventral part of the abdomen with a black spot in the very center that has four white dots.
Name: Tropical orb-weaver spider.
Scientific name: Eriophora ravilla.
Natural history: Individuals of this species are commonly known as “orb-weaver spiders”. It is a large species, in fact, it is one of the largest of the genus. Its coloration is extremely variable, so it is difficult to identify it based on it; some individuals have a dark, almost black coloration, others have a pale color, most have a brownish coloration, with or without a light spot in the center of the abdomen.
When present, it can range from wide to a thin white line; adult males have curved tibiae on legs; some immature individuals as well as some males have a pair of bright spots on the back of the abdomen. The bite of this species is not dangerous for humans.
Scientific name: Theraphosidae.
Natural history: In the Spanish-speaking countries of America they are known as tarantulas and chick spiders, as well as members of the Dipluridae family.
The size of the spiders depends on the species, their body varies from 1.5 to 10 cm. Counting the length of the legs, from 3 to 30 cm. The largest teraphoside can weigh about 130 gr. (Theraphosablondi).
In general, there is no sexual dimorphism until maturity where males tend to change color and shape with smaller chelicerae, thinner and longer legs, in addition to the secondary sexual organs themselves visible in the pedipalps and tibial hooks located in the tibia of the first pair of legs and contained in most species. Females, on the other hand, maintain their colors and shapes until the end of their life.
The vast majority are brown or black; however, some species have a more extensive coloration, such as cobalt blue (Haplopelma lividum and Poecilotheria metallica), black with white stripes (Aphonopelma seemanni and Acanthoscurria geniculata), or a metallic blue with a vibrant orange on the abdomen (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens).
Its natural habitat includes savanna, desert, mountain, rainforest, and cloud forest. They have been divided into terrestrial types (which frequently excavate) and arboreal types. Males have a relatively short life expectancy ranging from 3 to 8 years, and females, 5 to 25 years.
Name: Camel cricket.
Scientific name: Tropidischia.
Natural history: This cricket belongs to the Rhaphidophoridae, a family of insects in Orthoptera in the Ensifera suborder, which has a wide worldwide distribution. Most live in wooded environments or in caves, animal burrows, basements, under rocks, or in wood or similar environments.
None of the species is capable of flight and all are nocturnal, generally possessing long antennae and legs. There are more than 1100 species described in Rhaphidophoridae.
Name: Stick insect.
Scientific name: Phasmatodea.
Natural history: Phasmids (Phasmida or Phasmatodea) are an order of Neoptera insects, commonly known as stick insects and leaf insects. There are more than three thousand species described.
They are a group specialized in camouflage (cryipsis) with extraordinary colors, shapes and behaviors that confuse them with the vegetation on which they inhabit and feed on.
Among the phasmids are the heaviest insects (Heteropteryx dilatata with 30-40 grams of weight) and the largest (Phobaeticuschani with 35.7 cm in length).
Due to their shapes, they present three main morphological types:
– Stick insects: elongated, with or without wings (if present, they may or may not be functional for flight); more or less cylindrical body cross section; similar to small twigs in both color and shape.
– Leaf insects: broad-bodied, winged forms, flattened dorsoventrally, with laminar expansions on the legs and similar to leaves.
– Bark insects: they tend to have a more robust body and in many cases with protrusions in the form of small spines on all or part of the body.
In general, stick insects, as the name suggests, are twig-shaped, which makes them go unnoticed by many predators. However, it is not the only system that these insects have of defending themselves against enemies.
Name: Elephant beetle.
Scientific name: Megasoma elephas.
Natural history: Elephant beetles are black in color and covered with a layer of fine microscopic hairs. The hairs grow particularly thick on the elytra of the beetle. The hairs give the body of the beetle a yellowish color.
Males have two horns protruding from the head and another on the prothorax. Females do not have horns. The horns are used for defense, and for competition with other males for food and reproduction with females.
The elephant beetle has a length of 7 to 12 cm, and the males are sometimes even larger. Males are around 2-3 times larger than females.
Name: Bed bug.
Scientific name: Triatoma dimidiata.
Natural history: Triatoma dimidiata is a heteropteran insect of the Reduviidae family. It is hematophagous (it feeds on blood) and is considered one of the most important vectors in the spread of Chagas disease.
It is distributed from the north of South America (Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru) through all the countries of Central America to Mexico. It inhabits a variety of environments including stacked rocks, bat caves, and tree holes occupied by mammals or birds.
T. dimidiata is generally introduced into the human home accidentally, for example, through the firewood that farmers bring home. They can also actively colonize houses from jungle or domestic habitats, since insects in any of their stages walk and the adults are capable of flying.
This triatomine, although common in rural areas, can also be found in urban areas. This tendency to invade urban areas is accentuated both by the loss of their natural habitat and by the presence of domestic animals such as dogs and chickens, and wild animals such as the yellowtail (Didelphis marsupialis), in the vicinity of homes.
Name: Peanut bug.
Scientific name: Fulgora laternaria.
Natural history: The machaca, peanut head, cicada-machacuy, flying viper, cuckoo viper, caiman butterfly or cocoposa (as it is known in Spain) is a hemiptere insect of the Auchenorrhyncha suborder that lives in tropical humid forests in Mexico, Central America and South America.
It feeds on the sap of certain plants. It measures 85 to 90 mm long. It is characterized by the shape of its domed head and is 23 to 24 mm long, with a peanut appearance and false eyes to resemble a lizard.
It has abundant specks of yellow, orange, brown, gray, black and white and large false eyes on the two hind wings. When spreading, the forewings reach 10 to 15 cm. When attacked, it defends itself by releasing a substance with an unpleasant odor. Sometimes they drum their head against the trunk of a tree.
Name: Green cicada
Scientific name: Zammara strepens.
Natural history: The cicadidos (Cicadidae), known as cicadas, are a family of insects of the order Hemiptera. Cicadas can live in both temperate and tropical climates. They have a complete vital development that lasts from two to seventeen years, depending on the species.
The nymphs live buried while adults live on plants, feeding on their sap. The frequency of the vibration or song that a cicada emits can reach 86 Hz.
Name: Band-winged dragonlet.
Scientific name:Erythrodiplax umbrata.
Natural history: The Band-winged dragonlet is a species of dragonfly in the Libellulidae family. It is found in the Caribbean, Central America, North America, and South America.
Libellulids (Libellulidae) are a family of anisopteraodonates, the largest in the world. It is sometimes considered to contain the families Corduliidae (as a subfamily Corduliinae) and Macromiidae (as a subfamily Macromiinae).
Even if both are excluded, there is still a family of around 1,000 species left. With an almost worldwide distribution, they are almost certainly the dragonflies most frequently seen by humans.
Libellulids have robust-bodied nymphs with the lower lip or labium turned into a deployable organ located at the bottom of the head, called a mask, with which they capture their prey.