COSTA RICA CONTINUED…
As well as the poison dart frogs and coral snake being great examples of animals using bright colouration to protect themselves from danger, we also saw countless examples of animals of all kinds using camouflage to hide away from danger in the rainforest. On the opposite end of the colour spectrum to the garish poison dart frogs were these amazingly well-hidden frogs, each of which is in the very centre of the picture making them easier to spot than they usually would be!
As well as these frogs we encountered many other animals which blended in perfectly with their habitats like these praying mantids, again positioned centrally within the pictures:
Of course praying mantids aren’t only using their camouflaging skills to hide from predators, they are also using them to prevent their insect prey from seeing them before they pounce on them without warning, in this way they are the perfect ambush predator!
We encountered many katydid (bush cricket) species during the trip, almost all of which were fantastically well camouflaged. Individuals of the species below were always found at night, on leaves with their enormously long antennae perfectly in line with the central leaf stem! In the individual below the antennae are in fact so long they extend off of the left edge of the picture!
Keeping with insects this moth was absolutely astonishing, it looked exactly like a leaf:
Initially when it was shown to me, on the ground outside the restaurant at Maquenque Eco-Lodge, I actually didn’t believe it was a living thing at all. It wasn’t until it started crawling all over my arm that I could tell that it was, but I had to take this photograph of it from the front to prove to others that it was actually a moth and not a leaf! Truly astonishing.
This tiny spider was one of my favourite animals I found during the entire trip. It looked exactly like some kind of plant seed whilst at rest on the leaf and I was actually lucky to spot it at all! I spent a lot of time during the trip looking closely at leaves, branches and tree trunks in an attempt to spot the smaller creatures of the forest and on this occasion I was rewarded handsomely!
When it moved it was very obviously a spider but in its resting position, with its legs folded in on itself, it was (like the moth) another truly fabulous example of mimicry or pretending to be something you are not! Absolutely fantastic.
As well as the use of warning colours, camouflage and mimicry we saw some other examples of adaptations that animals have to protect themselves from predators. These incredible spiders were two of them, their abdominal spines being a fantastic deterrent to being eaten!
In a similar way this caterpillar had extremely long urticating (or irritating) hairs, which are an amazing deterrent to predation as they cause extreme irritation to the skin, eyes and respiratory system of predatory animals.
As well as all of these there were SO many other animal highlights. As well as the poison dart frogs my other favourite amphibian species were undoubtedly the beautiful leaf frogs we found during our many night walks, especially the red-eyed leaf frogs of the genus Agalychnis and a number of species of tree frogs: