Bugs of Monteverde

Tags: Cerro Amigos, Costa Rica, Curi Cancha, Monteverde, Monteverde Cloud Forest, San Gerardo Station, Santa Elena Cloud Forest

Date: April 13, 2023

We saw a lot of bugs (insects and others) during our trip to Monteverde. For the most part they were easy to photograph and some have some really interesting stories as well. However, be warned of the spider pictures below!

Here is a flat-backed millipede, probably of the species "python millipede". It is commonly found in Costa Rica and we did see quite a few of them during our different hikes in humid areas:

In the drier areas we saw a lot of these very large creatures shuffling about, furling and unfurling the long yellow antennae:

It turned out that they are spider wasps. They are huge, sometimes over 5 cm, and really funny-looking with the antennae all over the place all the time:

Apparently, the second most painful insect sting in the world is by a species of spider wasp called a tarantula hawk. The pain has been described as "blinding, fierce, and shockingly electric. A running hair dryer has been dropped into your bubble bath." Fortunately, spider wasp are not very aggressive towards humans but tend to use their sting in a more sinister manner — more about that below (involves spiders).

This gigantic ant-like insect crossed the trail in front of us:

A lovely blue dragonfly:

Back to the spider wasps:

In the middle of the trail in the San Gerardo Station we saw this:

We thought the wasp was just dragging a dead spider back to its nest for eating it but after some research it turns out that spider wasp feed mostly on nectar from a variety of flowers. The spider is for a different purpose and it probably isn't dead!

Actually, the spider wasp stings the spider and the venom paralyzes the spider but doesn't kill it. The wasp then drags the spider or in some cases carry it flying to a burrow where the spider is interred along with a single wasp egg. When the egg hatches, the larva will start eating the paralyzed spider, saving the vital organs until last, ensuring it has fresh food until the moment it pupates.

So in conclusion, this spider is probably being dragged to a gruesome end:

Last, we got a picture of this pretty blue beetle with fluffy yellow antennae. It is probably a species of dung beetle: