The first vegetarian spider of the season (with a catch).

Today I found Bagheera kiplingi at Palo Verde Biological Station, after searching more than 200 Vachellia plants. They definitely aren’t common around here, but this is the first time (that I know of) it has been documented in the area. I found it where I find most Bagheera spiders, inside a rolled-up leaf on an acacia (Vachellia) plant. Admittedly, I wasn’t in…

Entomophobia? Me?

“You’re going to have mosquitoes at Palo Verde,” said one of the advisors on my vegetarian spider project. No big deal, I thought to myself, I’ve dealt with mosquitoes before. I’m not afraid of insects, am I? That’s what the work “entomophobia” means. Coincidentally, I happened to be reading Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet on my way to Costa Rica,…

Reptiles aplenty, but definitely not Jurassic Park.

In my visit to La Selva, I’ve probably seen more wild reptiles than I’ve ever seen before (9 crocodiles, 2 iguanas, and too many geckos to count), which made me think I should make some sort of witty comment about this region of Costa Rica coming straight out of a scene from Jurassic Park. Of course,…

Come on, stay still just one second longer!

My photos definitely could use some improvement, first through the use of better equipment (a telephoto lens would be nice) and secondly through my timing. Many times a great photograph has gone past, and then I’ve had to dig out my camera or my phone, only to have the moment pass me by. When it…

Good news on the frogs (sort of)…

The good news is that there are frogs everywhere at La Selva, although the bad news is that these species are resistant to the chytrid fungus that I mentioned in an earlier post. Some species have special protein fragments (called peptides) in their skin, others have different adaptations for dealing with the threat. Strawberry dart…

Two lessons I’ve learned…

“Ah, sí. Todos los senderos son de cemento.”  Oh, yes. All of the paths are concrete. That was the first lesson I learned, which is to not assume that everyone knows what they’re talking about. Maybe he was referring to the major paths, or the paths that connected the eating area to the cabins. Whatever it was, there…

La Selva, Costa Rica (Tropical Rainforest for sure!)

I came after dark, since our bus had broken down in San Jose and I needed to get to the bus station, hail a taxi, and then cross Costa Rica’s capital city to reach another bus station in order to get a bus ride to La Selva Biological Station. “La Selva” basically means “The Jungle” in English,…

Two times I’ve been to Costa Rica…

Once accidentally, and one time on purpose. And to tell the truth, the time I came in accidentally was a whole lot easier to do!  When I went the first time, my wife and family were with me. In fact, my wife was driving. She’d taken the wheel while I searched for acacia trees that…

Frogs (or a lack thereof)

I went to El Valle a week ago, where my friend Heidi Ross and her husband Edgardo Griffith organized a Festival for the Golden Frog (or Festival de la Rana Dorada in Spanish). The truth is that many species of frog are critically endangered in Panama, including the golden frog (which is actually a species…

The Tropical Dry Forest (Panama)

Nearly everyone has heard of the “tropical rainforest” before, it practically rolls off the tongue every time somebody says “tropical” and “forest” together. There is, however, another type of tropical forest–the tropical dry forest–that is in far more trouble than the wetter kind. Now before you get the wrong idea, let me be clear that it does…

Back to posting!

It’s been a week of intense work (and travel) and unreliable Internet connections, which is why I haven’t been able to post for quite a while. There is so much to catch up on! I took sample of spiders that I found on acacias in Panama over to the Museum of Invertebrates of the University…

Why are there so many cows?

After fifteen years of living in and out of Panama, I can finally answer that question. Not that it ever really should have been a mystery; I guess I just hadn’t thought about it enough. Just about everywhere I look in the countryside of Panama, from Cocle Province to Chiriqui, I see more and more…