Saturday, March 28, 2009

Double take

Hummmmm. What are your intentions?


Old red eyes. It appears that it has something in its mouth.


I wish I had one of those fancy cameras that would allow me to really zero in on those eyes. Not knowing anything about the matter, it seems to me that the eyes are a thousand times larger than the brain. See Ted's comment about this fly, which I had called a wasp.


Check out those eyes!

Old man's face

I discovered this little creature on the porch sink. That "old man's face" got to me!

Grasshopper for dinner

I got this shot in the early stage of the spider wrapping up the grasshopper for dinner. Actually, it doesn't take long. When the insect hits the web, the spider descends from its hiding spot up in the leaves and in few seconds the victim is immobile.

Bugs and assorted, continued

You'll need to enlarge the image to see the beauty of this moth, or whatever it is. I'm counting on Ted MacRae at Beetles in the Bush to help us identify the difficult ones. They're all difficult, I assure you. Nothing too difficult for Ted. If you've read the comments associated with my entries, you'll learn the real names of these small creatures and their natural history. Amazing stuff!

Longhorned beetle

My first reaction, a grasshopper. Second reaction, I'm not sure. Regardless, it's a beautiful little creature. P.S. See Ted MacRae's comment. It's a longhorned beetle.

Ant vs. grasshopper

The grasshopper was making a feast out of the leaf when the ant showed up and told it to move on. No battle. The grasshopper moved on.

Click beetle

Identified by Ted MacRae. See comment for the interesting details of why it's called a "click beetle".

Bugs, continued

Technically not a bug, but for the time being .....

Robber fly

Some bug photos are accumulating, so to the press. Identification by Ted MacRae. See comment.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Praying mantis

This praying mantis was so skinny, it would have made a matchstick look like an elephant. And the little creature was very aggressive. As I took my time photographing it, never once did it turn away from me. The closer I got with my camera, the higher it stood up. I don't know if they have teeth, but it so, I'm sure they were snarling at me.

Gil Serique

I was feeling guilty about having scared up that grasshopper into the spider web, but my friend Gil Serique told me a story even more somber. "Steve, once I inadvertently scared up two Orinoco geese that fled from the river bank and landed in the water. They were followed by 7 or 9 chicks that landed by them. All these chicks were eaten by a school of piranhas that did not give them a chance to fly. I got that on tape, just in case you want to check it." Image, Gil lecturing to a group of visitors from a cruise ship.


Proper drainage seems to be the secret to avoid erosion and giant mud holes. The runoff seen in the attached image is coming from the Santarem-Cuiaba Highway and it's heading in the direction of Bosque Santa Lucia. For a couple of years it ended up in a mud hole that became the size of a football field. My readers will remember that I named it "Lake Maria" in honor of our mayor, whose government did nothing to better the access in this part of the region. Thanks to the voluntary services of a neighbor on the highway and his bulldozer, we were able to bury Lake Maria in February of this year, thus opening up access to the Bosque again. The runoff from BR-163 hasn't changed, but at least it's not accumulating on the dirt road.

International Day of Water, continued

All this rain eventually makes its way to creeks and the rivers. My friend in Mararu, Sr. Dagaberto, does his best to use the creek that runs through his property for raising fish, but nature takes it course during the rainy season. He's built brick walls and all kinds of construction projects to avoid losing his creations, but the fast moving water takes it all away. Image, an American egret overlooks summer construction ... and an easy lunch at the expense of Sr. Dagaberto.

Bromeliad in water

Winds and rains bring down things from up in the trees this time of the year. I found this flowering bromeliad float next to the footbridge.

International Day of Water

We're certainly not lacking for water. Our rainy season is at its best this time of the year. Annual rainfall is approximately 2,000mm and most of it falls between between February and May. The river system raises and falls some 8-9 meters between high and low season here in Santarem and there are years when the water floods the streets down at the orla. Image, our 42 meters footbridge at Bosque Santa Lucia, which has been under water twice this year. Cleuson applying a sprinkling of sand to make it less slippery.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spider food

I inadvertently scared this grasshopper from wherever it was .... right into the web of this hungry spider. In a split second the spider descended onto the web to immobilize the victim in a straitjacket. Then it was all over for our long-legged friend. I came back to have a look some three hours later to find that the spider was still munching on its food. I had thought that it would have sucked out the liquids from the grasshopper, but as you can see from the images, the body tissues were being consumed too. As I was poking around too much, the spider fled the scene. In the top image, I removed the victim from the web to have a better look. I also rescued the butterfly, which was very much alive.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Furry Bug

I discovered this furry one on the frond of an açaí palm. My first reaction was "something new." I took several pictures and from time to time I would return to take more, taking advantage of different sunlight exposures. The more I looked at the insect, the more I thought that something was very strange about all that "fur". I finally came to the conclusion that the creature was being consumed by fungi. Was it a case of parasitism? Could it be a cicada?

Another bug

And this colorful bug? A treehopper, I suspect. In the image it looks to be as large as an elephant, but it's less than an inch. P.S. See Ted MacRae's comment on this post. You'll be surprised, as I was.

Warty leaf beetle

I suspected another weevil, but I didn't know for sure. One of a kind sighting and never again. P.S., refer to Ted MacRae's comment for the real story. Thanks.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Black ant

A glossy black ant makes off with what would appear to be an embryo of another ant. Could it be a case of moving the family, or is it food for thought?

Pudgy bees

I discovered these pudgy golden bees tending their nest in a termite infestation on the side of a 200 year old Brazil nut tree. You'll need to enlarge the images to get a better view of them.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


It's not often that we need six woodsmen at Bosque Santa Lucia, but when the British ship Artemis comes to the Amazon, we work at our limits. This past Wednesday, we conducted tours for six groups in the morning and three in the afternoon. Each group is led by one English speaking guide and a local woodsman. We expect the same number on March 11th, when the ship comes back down the river from Manaus. In the attached image from left to right: Bimba, Cleuson, Waldemar, Carlos, Kleper and Luiz.

Wasp and treehoppers

I'm not sure what's going on here. I assume some symbiotic relationship between the wasp and these bugs (aphids?). Cleaning up? Maybe Ted MacRay could offer an explanation.

Ted reports: The nymphs look like they belong to the genus Aetalion, a primitive family of treehoppers (order Hemiptera) - I can see an adult in the lower left, which helps with the ID. Treehoppers suck plant sap and excrete excess sugars as 'honeydew' - I presume the wasp is there lapping up the sweet sticky stuff. Treehoppers are often guarded by ants, who protect them from predators in exchange for their honeydew.



When construction got under way on this nest, there was only one worker. At about this stage in the building, another worker appeared.


The perfect image of a cicada!

Another butterfly

This little beauty seems to be one of those half-butterfly and half-moth varieities.


Another butterfly, very much in tact, except for the antennas, which I cut off in the cropping.