Sunday, October 30, 2011

Faces of Costa Rica

We are on the brink of leaving this amazing place, so I thought I might post a few of the faces we have encountered on our journey. Of course they are not human (although we did meet many wonderful people during our stay); these faces belong to the creatures that captivate us and inhabit these rich rainforest habitats.

A juvenile Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni.)

Giant Peppered Cockroach (Archimandrita tesselata)

Basilisk (Basiliscus basiliscus)

Black Jungle Stalker (Ctenidae)

Black-tailed Scorpion (Centruroides bicolor)

Horned Katydid, (Copiphora cultricornis)

Fishing spider (Pisauridae)

Hawk moth (Sphingidae)

Leaf-tailed Mantis (Mantidae)

Giant fly, unknown species

Unidentified moth

Wet-forest Toad (Ollotis melanochlora formerly Bufo melanochlorus)

Pink-jawed Katydid (Neoconocephalus sp.)

Unidentified wasp

Amblypygid (Phrynus pseudoparvulus)

Orange-faced katydid - unidentified species

Eyelash Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii)

Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium sp)

Huntsman spider (Sparassidae)

Green and Black Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates auratus)

'Sunburst' raspy cricket (Gryllacrididae)

Owl Butterfly caterpillar (Caligo memnon)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Costa Rica - Tree snakes

We have encountered snakes most nights whilst in the field looking for invertebrates. We have spotted many species on and around the property we are living. The majority are arboreal (tree climbers). The diet of these snakes is quite diverse. Many feed upon frogs and lizards, while some of the larger species will take birds and bats. The specialists, however, feed on animals that few other snakes do. Some species specialise in feeding upon snails, while another is a scorpion specialist. Here's a selection of those we have seen to da

A very strikingly patterned Bicoloured Snail-eater, Dipsas bicolor

Bicoloured Snail-eater, Dipsas bicolor

Bicoloured Snail-eater, Dipsas bicolor. We weren't lucky enough to encounter one of these in the act of eating a snail. In fact, snails seemed far less abundant than in the Australian tropics.

Neotropical Bird-eating Snake, Pseustes poecilonotus. This is one of the largest and most robust tree snakes we encountered, no doubt capable of feeding on moderately sized birds.

Neotropical Bird-eating Snake, Pseustes poecilonotus

Blunt-headed tree snake, Imantodes cenchoa. This species is very  wirey, and every individual we found would coil itself into multiple loops as above. A very inoffensive snake which had no objection to being picked up.

Blunt-headed tree snake, Imantodes cenchoa

Cat-eyed snake, Leptodeira septentrionalis. This species is a  frog specialist. We  found three of them with the hind legs of tree frogs disappearing into their mouths.

Snail-eater, Sibon nebulatus
Snail-eater, Sibon nebulatus

Brown Vine Snake, Oxybelis aeneus. These snakes are incredibly thin hence the name, and blend in very well amongst the chaos of vines and branches within the rainforest. This one was an easy find - sitting on a green leaf.

Brown Vine Snake, Oxybelis aeneus

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cost Rica - Arañas

The spider fauna on the Osa Peninsula is rich and diverse. All the species here are new to us of course, but some of the families are too. The most obvious spiders here are from the Ctenidae; the wandering spiders. There are numerous species here and are easily spotted at night using a head torch. There are several species of tarantulas (Theraphosidae) here too, and we recently found a road side cutting with large numbers of hand-sized specimens (Brachypelma angustum) sitting outside their burrows.

Every night we see more and more spiders. Here is a small selection of the spiders we have encountered so far - some of the smaller species are truly spectacular.

A 'leopard' wandering spider, Ctenidae 

Red-thighed Wandering Spider, Cupiennius coccineus

Costa Rican tarantula, Sericopelma sp.

Male tarantula, 'Crypsidromus sp.'

Costa Rican Orange-mouth Tarantula, Psalmopoeus reduncus (female)

Male Costa Rican Orange-mouth Tarantula, Psalmopoeus reduncus (male)

Costa Rican Orange-mouth Tarantula, Psalmopoeus reduncus

Silverback Cross Spider, Argiope savignyi

A huntsman spider, formerly Olios now being reclassified.

Flame-bellied Orb-weaver (Eriophora sp.), wrapping prey

Flame-bellied Orb-weaver (Eriophora sp.) This species has a huge ladder-like orb-web which often connects with the ground. During the day they hide above the web in a curled leaf.

A bizarre Lynx spider, Oxyopidae. This species lies flat underneath broad leaves.

Not sure about this one - could be Oxyopidae or a Mimetid

Pedipalps to be proud of. A male pirate spider, Mimetidae.

The female of the same species. We could not identify this Mimetid beyond family level. The eye-spots on the abdomen make it look a little like a South Park character.

Another individual of the same species.

A Red house spider (Nesticodes rufipes). This species seems at home both in houses and within the rainforest.

A small but robust Oxyopid feeding on a wasp.  The spider is hanging from a strand of silk.

Selenops sp. This lighting fast spider is at home on rocks and on tree trunks.

The spiny Micrathena sexspinosa. A common orb-weaver on the Osa Peninsula. 

A large Scytodes sp.; a spitting spider. These six-eyed hunters eject venomous silk from their spinnerets. We were able to capture action in the studio.

A jumping spider (Salticidae). 

A triangular orb-weaver, unknown species.