COSTA RICAN SPIDERS & OTHER ARACHNIDS CONTINUED!
One of the smallest but undoubtedly most amazing spiders I found in Costa Rica was this next one. When I first noticed this shape on a leaf I just thought I was looking at a plant seed of some kind, or possibly even a bird dropping, but as I took a closer look it became clear that it was in fact a spider demonstrating quite stunning camouflage!
Whilst it was at rest on the leaf its legs were folded in on themselves giving it the appearance of having no legs at all and being a seed, whereas when it got disturbed it opened out its legs to run away (like it is doing below)!
This spider was just one example in Costa Rica of how smaller creatures can be just as amazing as their larger counterparts and the one below was another, I don’t think I have ever seen a cuter spider. Tiny but absolutely beautiful!
At almost exactly the same location that I found the cute little spider above I also found the one below, which is the only spider I have ever personally seen which had lost all four legs on one side of its body! This was almost certainly as a result of attempted predation, probably by a lizard or a bird, but the spider was still able to run albeit a little bit more awkwardly than its eight-legged counterparts!
Below are two spiders which were unfortunately very tricky to get decent photographs of! The first one had made its web between two Selva Verde Lodge walkways but it was out of reach and facing away from the walkway so I had to stretch my arms out a LONG way with my camera facing towards me to even try to get a decent picture. It was worth the effort though because it was a truly spectacular spider!
This was the best I could manage, not actually too bad considering the truly awkward position it was in! This is a fabulous spiky species which is known as Gasteracantha cancriformis and if you do a Google image search for this species you will see that it comes in a truly mind-booggling variety of colours! We saw this pale yellow variety and the white one too but sadly never in a position where taking a picture would have been feasible.
The second tricky-to-photograph spider was this one below, which I found resting inside a folded-over leaf quite high up in a small tree. It was impossible to get closer to it so the picture below was taken on full zoom on my camera from on the ground quite some distance away! It looked like a pretty huge spider with spectacularly orange legs, it would have been great to see it up close but sadly it wasn’t to be.
The very last spider I will be sharing on this page is actually the very first one I photographed on the trip, in pitch darkness at night on a large leaf on the lagoon at Maquenque Eco-Lodge. I love this picture because this wolf spider is another fantastic example of the eye shine which many nocturnal animals demonstrate when you shine a torch (or in this case a camera flash) in their direction!
The night walks at all lodges were some of the highlights of my trip and as well as the many spiders and whip spiders they allowed us to see they also offered us two other distinct groups of arachnids, namely the scorpions and Opiliones (commonly called harvestmen here in the UK). Unlike spiders the Opiliones or harvestmen do not have venom glands and as such are completely harmless, they also often have very long legs in relation to their bodies. My favourite two Opiliones from the trip are these two below, both found in the grounds of Maquenque Lodge!
The only scorpions we saw during the entire trip, despite much night-time searching, were at Luna Lodge – our final destination. Using our Ultraviolet (UV) torches myself and Nick found a great many in and around the walls of the lodge buildings. Scorpions are very easy to find with UV light as they fluoresce when it shines on them, turning a bright green colour whereas everything else shines purple or deep blue. Pictures never do them justice but here are a couple of the scorpions we found fluorescing!
These last three pages don’t by any means represent all the arachnids we saw during the trip, not even close in fact, but they do represent some of my favourites that we encountered. I would absolutely love to go back one day to spend more time searching as there are HUNDREDS of species we didn’t get to see at all!