Insectos de Costa Rica, 2015

How many different insects are there? A lot. How many different insects? No one seems to agree, but the worldwide number ranges from 800,000 to 1,000,000 or more. How many different insects in Costa Rica? The National Biodiversity Institute of Costa Rica, “INBio”, estimates that of over 500,000 different creatures found in Costa Rica,  over 300,000 of them are insects.

Every year, every visit, without looking very hard I notice and photograph a little gallery of insects. Some of them find me, and bite or sting, but that’s endurable.

Here are your “Insectos de Costa Rica”, 2015 version. Enjoy.


Every year I encounter one of these bold predators. Tucked underneath its body is a piercing beak, with which to stab other bugs and eat them. Bold? You bet. I’ve seen these guys take out “Africanized” or “killer” bees.

My friend Melissa says she wants an outfit just like what is being worn by the creature in this first photo. “Right down to the red shoes”, she says. One of my favorite things to see are the preying mantises. Here are two.


Mantis on the “acera”. In the world of flowers, orchids are famous for variety of color, shape, and size. The same may be said for the mantids.

One day I saw a moving bit of fluff, or hair, on the wall. Moving fluff?


Look at those front arms. It took me more than a few years of seeing these teensy critters to realize that yes, they seem to be mantises!

Butterflies. Always there are butterflies. And moths. Some are small and placid.


In this picture, the color of my fingers was a distraction, so I took the color out. This little guy was almost black and white anyway.

Other butterflies are bolder. At least in terms of color.


Color on color. On the bodega wall

In the hot, fast-paced, everybody-is-looking-for-a-meal insect world of Costa Rica, having a dull and boring side can be very good……….


Probing for salts in the muds of a riverbank.

Especially if you look like this when your wings are open.


I just could not manipulate the photo enough to show the spectacular quality of the dark purple in these wings. Sorry.

What comes before the butterfly? The caterpillar.


Fuzzy caterpillars are best left scrupulously alone. Those hairs are often stinging hairs. Owie!

Always check your shoes and clothing before putting them on.


Hung out to dry, a sock acquires a visitor. Spines on a caterpillar can be as bad or worse than stinging hairs. Owie!

If you’re not going to invest in stinging hairs or nasty spines, another defense is to taste awful, or to be poisonous. A great way to show how awful you are is to be brightly colored.


No, this fine and bright caterpillar did NOT eat this pipe.

Plenty of warmth, never any freezing temperatures, means that some insects get pretty big.


The US dollar bill is six inches long. As long as we’re on the subject, the nickel is one inch across.

Ants are everywhere. Here’s a column of army ants. IMG_4953 Almost as soon as an eating opportunity opens up, ants will be there.


Someone wasn’t looking down while walking around. This colorful critter got squashed. Almost immediately, these wee ants were enjoying a meal.

How fast can an ant colony take advantage of a chance meal? Very quickly.


This snake was an entire body less than 24 hours previously. The ants who did this work were tiny, and black. There were many thousands of them.

This eat-and-get-eaten drama takes place day or night.


Cicada, attracted to light at night, bumbles around. Spider, attracted to cicada, catches, kills, and eats cicada.

There are many ways to hide. I found this guy by accident, and at first thought it was a scrap of leaf. Then legs started waving. Not a leaf.


Belly-up, this “I-don’t-know-what-it-is” lies on a leaf.


Top side. At most, this insect was 3/16″ from back to belly. If you want to be able to hide in narrow place, being skinny like this is a great way to go.

Now it’s your turn to “find the bug”. IMG_4498 Thanks for looking.

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