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Great Big Freaky Bug

Monday, March 9, 2009

Surama Eco-Lodge is the sweetest little place. How I wish it hadn't poured like monkeys the whole time we were there, for we had to forego our afternoon hike. It's nestled in fabulous habitat next to the mountain range, and you can see tons of great birds and animals there. Once again, the food was terrific, the hosts warm and knowledgeable.

Erica and I took a good long nap, to the sound of rain on the tin roof. It was delicious, as was dinner. Man, Guyana had such good food--lots of fresh vegetables, beans and rice, and chicken in savory sauces. It may not have been flashy, but it was just what I needed.

I love this shot, the road stretching like a lighted path to the mountains. I could only imagine what birds we might have seen there. I want to go back.
Just before dark there was a break in the rain, and these clouds came scudding across the landscape. One, like the tail of a giant anteater diving into the trees. I don't think I've ever seen a cloud quite like that back home.
You may be sure our group of curious naturalists found ways to amuse ourselves. For one, there was a House Frog.
He was on duty for roaches, crickets, katydids and spiders, and most welcome. Just don't land on my face in the night and we're good.

I wonder what he would have done with this--my first ever lanternfly Fulgora laternaria.
I was BESIDE MYSELF. I'd read about this beast all my life, had always wanted to see it in the most eager, Science Chimpy way. (Thank you, DOD, for keeping us in National Geographic our entire childhood. I believe that magazine changed my life.) The head looks so much like a caiman that it flips me out; it's a beautiful example of the intelligence of evolutionary design. Yes, you read me right. And I am messin' with your head.
I mean, look how the "eye" is reflective, just as it would be if the lanternfly really were a winged lizard.

The eyes of the creature are the two dark spots on the "caiman's" neck. So the peanut-shaped fright mask is actually a headdress or helmet. Pretty cute, when you look at it that way. Like a pope's hat. It was originally thought to be luminescent, hence the name lanternfly. Believe it or not, this is just an overgrown planthopper. Splendidly, magnificently, over the top-tropically overgrown.

Here's the WW II bomber, preparing for takeoff...

Messing with it a bit, we got it to spread its wings. It jumped and fell, oops! giving us its ventral view, which looked an awful lot like a cicada to me. You can see the sucking mouthparts, the dark tube running down between its legs. Again, very cicada-like. It just drinks plant juice, that's all, and is perfectly harmless to people.

This thing has the defenses! Look at those eyespots on the underwings. So if it can't scare you with its gatorhead hat, it flashes big owl eyes at you. It must be quite delicious to invest so much in scaring away potential predators.

Big bug. Mike Weedon looks terrified. Looks dangerous, but the only problem with it is that legend has it if you're bitten by the machaca, you have to have sex within 24 hours or die badly. Thank God no one was bitten. The pool of candidates was rather small; everybody was married or otherwise committed, and it was so disgustingly hot and humid that, well, let's just say it was not an aphrodiasical environment. I felt like a slimy toad the whole time. Had it bitten me, I might have had to just go ahead and die.


Beautiful skies, frightening bug, and a very funny naturalist!!!

Hey, are you laughing at me? I put my life on the line for that bug shot: look how close it is to my eye!

No, I thought you looked remarkably relaxed and debonair; I was being sarcastic.

But just think if it had bitten you...shudder!

Jeez--are you trying to HELP eco-tourism in Guyana? or discourage it?
Most interesting post, anyway.
Rain, bugs, frogs, potential mandatory death sex--what's not to like?

Beats sitting around reading updates on Facebook. I need help...

I can imagine all the laughter about that wonderful bug. I like it. And, yes, the talk of death sex is way better than reading updates on FB. Yes sirree.

...the House Frog comment made me laugh hard enough to get me over my fear of commenting on your site! Very funny. Big fan.

Gotta get me a house frog to take care of all these milkweed bugs. Don't they know it's nice out now?
Speaking of which -- Phoebe's back (the bird, not the willowy kid.)

(And geez, I hate it when cute guys with bugs but no rings on their fingers turn out to be otherwise committed. 'Cause I'd'a taken one for the team. That's the kinda team player I am.)

That is one gigantic looking planthopper, and a very elaborate one too. I never heard of it but glad I knew it exists now.

LOLOL Julie. What a way to go.
Really cool bug!

You're a riot, Alice! Love the post (sorry about the rain).

As for the intelligence of evolutionary design, I've never not been in awe of how nature adapts. Last night on Nature we saw Darwin's predicta moth. Just amazing.

I'm sorry the rain interfered with your plans, but the lanternfly was certainly a great consolation prize. What a marvelous looking creature!

If only I had one of these bugs back in high school...

I wonder if the bite hurts ...oh well, no pain, no gain.


Love the froggy! He can migrate up here anytime, but that big bug can just stay in Guyana. Photos are close enough for me!

What a great bug. Photogenic too..

I love some of those comments.


Great bug - love it, love it! And cute frog. We had one like it swimming in our toilet tank in Guyana. I "set it free" only to find it back home the next morning.

I'm so jealous. I've always wanted to see a lanternfly.

Must be tasty, indeed!

Did you find yourself sleep deprived on this trip--with all the heat, stickiness and wild tentmates?

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