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N 20 B 101 C 1 E May 24, 2019 F Nov 20, 2019
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Darwin Wallace Poison-Frog (Epipedobates darwinwallacei) - Mindo, Ecuador

A beautiful, range restricted poison frog found in a relatively small portion of Ecuador. Common in some areas where it occurs, it is still painfully shy. I had a layover in Ecuador for several days and made it my goal to photograph this species in its natural environment and hoping to document behavior. Armed with some tips I was able to locate them relatively quickly, but on the 1st day I only heard them call and didnt see any individuals. On the 2nd day sitting in the leaf litter amidst tangles of bamboo I sighted some individuals and got a few mediocre images, it seemed like everytime I tried to photograph them they would drop down into the bamboo brambles and be lost from sight. On the 3rd day, it almost seemed like they had realized I was of little concern and were slightly less shy. I wasn't able to photograph any behavior but did get a handful of images of them in their environment. As a biologist, I also love the name of these frogs as homage to Darwin and Wallace.

Tags:   wildlife frog amphibian dendrobatidae nature poison frog poison dart frog toxic aposematic colorful macro Darwin Wallace Poison-Frog Epipedobates darwinwallacei Mindo Ecuador

N 5 B 333 C 1 E May 25, 2019 F Nov 19, 2019
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Monkey Slug caterpillar (Phobetron sp?) - Mindo, Ecuador

The same caterpillar as in the Limacodid before image, it has molted to its next instar and looks slightly better. Not the prettiest of caterpillars it won't ever turn into a jaw droppingly gorgeous butterfly, this ugly duckling will likely eventually turn into a fairly nondescript brown moth.

Tags:   Monkey Slug caterpillar moth lepidoptera insect nature wildlife macro entomology larval stage caterpillar slug moth cup moth limacodidae unusual strange bizarre Phobetron Mindo Ecuador

N 5 B 264 C 0 E May 25, 2019 F Nov 19, 2019
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Monkey Slug caterpillar (Phobetron sp?) - Mindo, Ecuador

This has to be the ugliest caterpillar I've seen. Black and bristly, it looks like it will sting if touched (typical of caterpillars in this family Limacodidae), and its not even symmetrical. Its irregular and odd to look at. But still fascinating and I was very happy to see it. I observed it for a few days and even photographed it after it molted when there was a SLIGHT improvement on its appearance.

Tags:   Monkey Slug caterpillar moth lepidoptera insect nature wildlife macro entomology larval stage caterpillar slug moth cup moth limacodidae unusual strange bizarre Phobetron Mindo Ecuador

N 27 B 336 C 7 E Feb 11, 2019 F Nov 19, 2019
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Horse hair worm, Katydid, and Orb weaver spider - Yasuni National Park, Ecuador

A katydid being munched on by a spider while simultaneously having a horse hair worm erupting from its mangled corpse. Ending its life as a spiders' midnight snack may have been the best option for this unfortunate katydid as given time to mature (judging by the worm's size... it didn't need much longer) the worm would have driven the katydid to take a kamikaze leap into water. The worm would then erupt out of the abdomen where it was living, leaving the katydid to a watery doom. So this leads to an interesting question, how does a worm inside an insect's body drive its host into water? Some sources say mind control, not dissimilar to how the entomopathogenic fungi (Cordyceps et al) + arthropod host relationship is often talked about. A google scholar search for 'horsehair worm host manipulation' yielded far more papers than I was willing to read and I could pick a few that directly addressed my question. The short version of the answer is that the worms trick the central nervous system into producing lots of extra neurotransmitters that may allow for increased transmission of signals between neurons. Somehow this drives the cricket to water, don't ask me why... I don't understand the details. Interestingly during my reading I also learned how the larval worms get into their hosts to begin with... like many parasites they have a complicated life cycle with multiple hosts. The adults mate in the water, deposit millions of eggs and die. The eggs are consumed by larval insects which leave the water as adults (think mosquitoes, caddis flies, etc..) the insect is either depredated by the final host or dies and is scavenged by the final host, who inadvertently consumes the worm larva within and then the horsehair worm starts growing. .

Tags:   horsehair worm gordonian worm spider orbweaver katydid web parasite parasitism parasitoid predation Yasuni entomology national park biodiversity nature macro nikon jungle rainforest

N 33 B 600 C 3 E Feb 13, 2019 F Nov 19, 2019
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Banded Anole (Anolis transversalis) - Yasuni National Park, Ecuador

Vanishing in the sea of green if its cryptic color isn't enough to help it vanish the bands across its body help it break up its shape even more. Not always successful, just a day earlier I had observed a kite eating one of these up in the canopy.

Tags:   anolis transversalis banded anole yasuni national park Ecuador jungle Amazon rainforest wildlife reptile herp herping herpetology


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