I hope you enjoy taking a closer look at some of the things I find interesting.
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Category Archives: Easter Eggs
Each one of these eggs from the underside of a leaf was parasitized by a wasp. Their barrel shape with round fringed caps suggests they might be stink bug eggs. Had a stink bug nymph emerged, the caps would have been neatly opened. Instead, they each have a roundish hole chewed in them. In fact, there’s a parasitoid wasp straggler chewing its way free from the rightmost egg.
I might be seeing things, but you can almost make out the wasp’s body through the transparent egg shell.
I didn’t notice at the time, but a mite came along.
These stingless bees have made their nest inside a termite mound. Earlier in the day, the bees weren’t clustered around the entrance like they are here. Instead they were simply flying in and out occasionally. This was taken late in the day though, and I suspect they are preparing to seal the entrance for the night. In the photo below, you get a better sense of how the nest is situated in the termite mound.
Though these bees are stingless, they aren’t defenseless. Do you see the clump of resin in the upper left? Looks like an ant has been encased there. I wonder if the bees perhaps mobbed it and secreted all that resin.
Note how they’re arranged along the central leaf vein. They’re undoubtedly taking plant juices through that midvein.
Click on the photo for a larger version and see if you scan spot a small mite (an “easter egg” I didn’t know about when I took the photo). Then see if you can find its recently cast off skin!
This stingless bee nest was nestled in the hollow of a tree. The nest entrance is only about a centimeter wide, making the bees themselves only 5 or 6mm long.
As their common name suggests, these bees have no sting to defend themselves. Knowing that, I got quite close. Harmless though they may be, they certainly look mean.
In that last photo, you can see a new arrival hanging below the nest, with pollen visible in the basket on its hind tibia.
According to Hogue, there are three genera of stingless bees. Lestrimelitta can be eliminated here because it doesn’t have a pollen basket. Of the other two, Melipona is larger, hairier and the wings don’t extend beyond the tip of the abdomen as they do here. These must then be a Trigona species.
While recently reviewing my shots of this fly in the family Micropezidae, I was surprised to find that I unknowingly got a shot of her laying an egg. Here’s another shot for comparison, where she has concealed her ovipositor beneath her abdomen.
Here’s a crop from the first photo, showing the ovipositor and the egg.
Everything I’ve read indicates that most larvae develop in decomposing matter, so it seems strange she would be placing an egg on a leaf surface. Perhaps this is just a method of random distribution, and the egg just falls where it may on the ground below.
I don’t think I’ve ever photographed webspinners before, so this represents another first from my most recent trip to Costa Rica. That’s notable to me because they have an order all to themselves, Embioptera.
As I walked the coastal trail leaving Manzanillo, I noticed many trees with webbing on their trunks. I stopped to look at a few, but I didn’t see any movement. I suspected webspinners were responsible, but it was only later when I decided to probe one of the webs that the webspinner above emerged. It didn’t seem very happy with the situation, and moved quickly to try and take refuge within the web again. Eventually it chewed a hole through which it disappeared.
Wasps in the family Pelecinidae are distinctive and easily recognized by that long thin abdomen. I’ve see them closer to home as well, but I can’t recall if I’ve ever gotten a decent photo. I do remember chasing after quite a few in vain or watching as one teased me from someplace just out of reach. I got lucky with this one.
What I thought was a red marking turns out to be a small mite.
There’s only one genus, Pelecinus, for this family. There appears to be at least two described species in the tropics.
This longhorned beetle blends in pretty well with these stems.
Some longhorned beetles are known as girdlers and that name might be aptly applied here. See the damage to the stem in the upper right? I didn’t witness it, but I suspect this beetle is responsible. In fact, given the bending of the stem under its head, it may very well have been chewing away when I took this photo. Further evidence is the frass present, indicating it’s been here awhile.
Why girdle? Some beetles that do it deposit an egg in the stem and then effectively kill the stem by chewing a ring into it. The stem beyond the girdle eventually dies and falls to the ground. The stem provides nourishment for the beetle larva and is then well placed for the grub to later escape into the soil where it completes its development.
This tick is one of the largest I’ve ever encountered. I’m happy to say it was the only one I saw.
Ticks often wave around their forelegs while perched like this, hoping to grab on to some passing potential host.
When viewed from the side, there’s an interesting bit of anatomy exposed.
I wondered about the purpose of that large hole on the tick’s side so I did some research. It’s called the spiracular plate, and it’s basically a tube into the tick’s breathing system. Calling it breathing might be a stretch though. It’s really more of a passive gas exchange. The shape of spiracular plates are also used by taxonomists as a way of distinguishing various types of ticks.
I found a couple of these large caterpillars very near to each other. First the one above and then the one below. I believe they are a species of Automeris.
With those spines and colors, it’s pretty obvious they are to be avoided. Each one of those spines is like a little hypodermic needle bearing venom.
Here are some closeups.
And here’s a particularly intimidating display.
So what would mess with this spiny critter? I discovered while reviewing photos of the latter caterpillar that there was a small fly up to no good. Sorry for the photo quality. These are extreme crops.