Archive for the ‘Insects’ Category

Visitors   2 comments

It’s that time of year again…now that rainy season is in full swing, signs of life begin to emerge.   We inaugurate the  new “winter” season in El Salvador – which compares more to spring in temperate climates, with plants bursting green everywhere  – with a visit from some friends who emerged from the foliage.

I was literally sitting on the toilet the other day, when in marched Mr. Walking Stick, not in the least concerned I was already in the bathroom.   Unable to move, I was grateful to see him on the other side of the bathroom, heading for refuge behind the trash can.

A day later, shortly after blowing my hair out, I spied a strange object on the corner of the dresser mirror.

Was he there the whole time or did he just wiggle his way up there?

What's that on the mirror?

Hey, weren't you in the bathroom the other day?

Yep - it's Mr. Walking Stick again

CLICK to enlarge Green visitor

Either coming as a voyeur or looking a makeover, I didn’t mind visits from Mr. Stick.

Returning home late evening this same day, what do I find on the pot we use to heat water every day, but a bright, green…

This visitor was a bit more intrusive.  Luckily I found it before my husband, as I have learned over the past year or more that Salvadorans are DEATHLY afraid of caterpillars.   Who knew?  And us Americans, we think they are soooooo cute.

Almost everyone I know from El Salvador says ‘eek’ when seeing a ‘gusano’ or even mentioning one.  On a walk with a friend the other day, we passed a small tree / bush that had been cut or fallen partially into the street.  She screamed, hopping over the branches, and dashing ahead. “Ewwww, gusanos!” she said.   I took a look.  In fact, there was a gathering.  And they were gorgeous, with bright colors like yellow, black and red.  Their fear is not irrational:  caterpillars here can give a smart sting, so they learn quick as children ‘Don’t Touch!’

Fluffy Tail insect looks just like a seed – with legs!   7 comments

Ok, I am an insect gweeb – who knew?   After years of yardless urban living in New England, now that I have a yard/garden, and in El Salvador to boot, I’ve become fascinated with “critters”.  I was sitting at the patio yesterday, and decided to check in on the chile plant.  We planted several types, in hopes of some seeds germinating – Chile Anaheim, Guaco, Chile de Arbol, Ciruela, and this one sprouted – we’re not sure which yet, but I’m thinking Anaheim.While examining the plant, I saw a seed clinging to the chile.   And then it moved.   Hey, that fluffy stuff is attached to… what??No, it’s not a seed, it’s… an insect!   With a fluffy butt.

( Click Pics to see LARGE images..)

After some research, it appears this little guy is a  Passion Vine Hopper Nymph.   I don’t think he’s a woolly aphid.

Multi-Colored aqua and yellow Leaf-hopper El Salvador   3 comments

Moments after I see a passion vine hopper nymph (curious insect with a fluffy white tail), on the same plant I spot a multi-colored leaf-hopper.   I’d seen small green leaf-hoppers in the past.   They have a funny v-shaped physique, with the bulk of their body at their head and shoulders, narrowing out smaller part towards their tail.  They hop off of you when you touch them.

So this leaf hopper was a “tropical colored” one.  And about 2-3 times larger than your typical small, green, northern north american leaf hopper, I’d say 3/4 of an inch long.

The pictures don’t do him as much justice as seeing him live in person.  The greyish-blue areas seen in the pictures were more of a blue-green aqua color, and you can see the yellow of course.  He also sported a reddish color, in the middle of his back, in between the two wings.   CLICK the pic to ENLARGE.    This guy is just g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s.

Large Spider – Tarantula’s cousin? ( El Salvador )   8 comments

This not-so-little friend was walking along the wall of the back patio one night, not long after I had first moved to El Salvador.  I called out to my husband, who immediately grabbed the broom.  In a dramatic moment, I saved Spidey’s life: “Run, Spider, Run!” I yelled.  He escaped just before the broom slammed the wall, and my husband cursed me.  My in-laws insisted this spider was dangerous; they said though it doesn’t have a venomous bite, the web it weaves can poison animals that walk into it, like horses and cattle.  I scoured the internet everywhere to identify ‘poisonous webs’ or ‘venomous webs’ but could not find a thing.  Old Salvadoran wives tale, I say.

Date spotted:  November 2, 2009.  Species:  unknown.  Visit the Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.   UPDATE:  according to one of our readers, this is known locally as a “horse spider.”  It appears to be a type of tarantula.

Hairy like a Tarantula, but not quite

Look how big this spider is

This spider is as big as hand!

What in Tarnation? (strange insects in El Salvador) – Dobsonfly!   2 comments

Just one more discovery in the world of strange insects in El Salvador.  It was resting on the wall of our bedroom and apparently had died a quiet death.  Since it was so darn big, I decided to document it with my niece Carmen, taking out the tape measure to illustrate.  Nearly 3 inches long without antennae.    Date spotted:  January 13, 2010.  Species:  unknown.   Visit the Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.

Update:  It’s a Dobsonfly.  Special thanks to Kathy Mahler for her comment informing us who this insect is.  Based on photos, he appears to be a male.  And we were living near a river at that time, natural habitat for him.

strange insects in El Salvador 1 strange insects in El Salvador 2

Multi Horned Spiders – El Salvador   3 comments

Two multi-horned spiders, red and white.   Seen in Los Planes de Renderos, El Salvador, October 9, 2010.  Looks like “Spinybacked Orbweaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis)”  per photos on

See more at the Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.

( CLICK to enlarge )

Butterfly – Orange and Big   Leave a comment

Large orange and brown butterfly with white spot on each wing.   Los Planes de Renderos, El Salvador, September 24, 2010.

See more at the Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.

large orange and brown butterfly with white spot on each wing

Walking Stick ( of Phasmatodea or Phasmida family )   Leave a comment

It all started on the patio in September 2010 during rainy season,  Los Planes de Renderos, El Salvador.    My friend was visiting when I noticed something on the floor.

“Gee what is that?” I said to her.  “Wow, es un gran animal!” she said (it’s a big ‘animal’).    Holey Toledo, he IS big!   Look at the size of this guy.  That paper is over 6″ wide, so I estimate this walking stick insect is about 5 inches long, not including antennae.

walking stick, about 5 inches long. walking stick insect el salvador

An internet search yielded many photos resembling this walking stick in numerous geographical locations, from smaller versions in the continental U.S. to ones 6-8″ long in Puerto Rico, and sticks in Peru and Madagascar.    They belong to a family of insects called Phasmids, known for camouflage capabilities. This is the 3rd major insect I have seen with camouflage capabilities in El Salvador, the other two are a leaf-backed grasshopper called an “Esperanza” in Spanish, and a leaf-backed Praying Mantis.   Fascinating stuff.

The Day the Music Died   2 comments

It occurred to me a couple days ago, when I was suddenly aware of dead silence.  Ah, that’s what it is, I thought – the Cicadas have stopped singing.  Initially only morning and later afternoon, but as time went on they sang all day long, deafening at times.

They sing throughout El Salvador for about 6 weeks, wane out, and if any are left by rainy season, the soggy stamps them out.

A peculiar experience during Cicada season happens when you drive past an area where many are singing.  Something to do with the speed or movement of the car alters their sound so from inside the car it sounds like airplanes landing.

Song of the Cicada (Chicharra, Cigarra – El Salvador)   2 comments

Cicadas* are singing in Los Planes de Renderos.  Depending in which ‘microclimate’ you live, you can hear these or other ‘singing bugs’ certain times of the year.   They were singing when we returned from Chalatenango a few days ago, and have continued their evening and morning song since.

Photo by Claudia Zelayandia on Flickr.

* commonly called “Chicharra” or “Cigarra” in El Salvador

INSECT Photo Gallery to -> Blog index, El Salvador   Leave a comment

Click a photo of one of our lovely insects in El Salvador to read more…

walking stick insect el salvador
large orange and brown butterfly with white spot on each wing Spinybacked Orbweaver - White - El Salvador  strange insects in El Salvador 2
……more to come

Glass…Moth?   Leave a comment

Yep.  Now I’ve seen it all.  Grasshoppers that look like leaves, Gigantic Orange Grasshoppers with lobster necks, crazy creepy crawly things, and now this.  Found in my kitchen in El Salvador, I have no idea what nature’s purpose is for this glass moth, but take a look:

Visit with a Glass Butterfly   Leave a comment

The Mountaintop Rain forest is a continuous wonder in El Salvador.  Periwinkle weeds grew everywhere last September during rainy season, and the glass butterfy loves them.  Click thumb for larger pic:

See more at the Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.

Can you see Me?   2 comments

Click on Foto for help Finding me

See more at the
Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador
Photo Gallery.

Scorpion: a first encounter   1 comment

My first encounter with a Scorpion, a “near sting” experience, was in December 2008.   “Oh look, a dead Scorpion”, I said to my husband, since it was so flat looking.   As I stooped down for a closer look he warned “Don’t get any closer, he’s not dead!”

The bite of this Salvadoran variety Scorpion is fairly harmless, however – more like a bee or wasp sing.  Not quite the Arizona Bark Scorpion that has reason to be feared.  Scorpion, in a defensive stance:

See more at the
Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador
Photo Gallery.

Horny Spiders   5 comments

I love these guys!  Don’t know their name, but these spiders have a hard spotted shell with  two distinctive points or ‘horns’ so I just call them horny spiders.  Environment = high elevation in El Salvador (3,000 ft), and seen during rainy season.

See more at the Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.

Posted October 1, 2010 by El Salvador from the Inside in Spider

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Blue Dragonfly   Leave a comment

A gorgeous blue dragonfly, resting on on the
ground cover called “mani” at the edge of our patio.

See more at the
Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.

Posted September 28, 2010 by El Salvador from the Inside in Cool, Insects

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A Butterfly is Born   Leave a comment

We got to experience a butterfly in the making, from pupa to wing flight – twice over!  All from our own patio in El Salvador – where else, of course.   We noticed a pupa (we called it a cocoon) hanging from the outside patio ceiling one day, and within a week, another one on the other side of the patio

Early stage pupa late stage pupa – note how the coloring changes We waited with anticipation for almost two weeks, when at last the first lovely butterfly emerged:
Flash picture shows more detail: A week or so later, butterfly number two emerged from its cramped quarters: A picture only a scientist could love: secretions from the chrysalis landed on the tile floor below it, around hatching time:

A scintillating experience, albeit in slow motion.  Originally I believed they were moths, but learned the ‘hanging objects’ in which they metamorphosed were not cocoons, but a pupae.

See a nice time-lapse video showing the whole butterfly life cycle:  Butterfly Time Lapse

Also visit the Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.

HOW many feet?   Leave a comment

One Hundred.  So says my husband, about the “Cien Pies” (Centipede) we’ve seen in both the dry area of El Salvador in Chalatenango, in the Northwest, and Los Planes, just to the south of San Salvador.  The shot on newspaper gives you an idea of the size of this creepy crawly critter.

This one is between 3-4 inches long. It’s most distinguishing characteristic is the way it wiggles as it crawls, and gives you the heeby-geebies. More in the Cien Pie / Centipede at Wiki.   See more at the Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.

Posted August 7, 2010 by El Salvador from the Inside in Eeek!

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Holey Toledo – Giant Grasshopper   Leave a comment

So my brother-in-law thought it would be cute to surprise me with this new and not so little friend, leaving it on our back patio for me.  I ran for cover when he first alighted, then ran for the camera once he sat still.  He was almost 6 inches long, and so big his neck looks like it belongs on a lobster:

No shortage of natural surprises here in El Salvador.  Seeing is believing.   See more at the Wonderful World of Insects in El Salvador Photo Gallery.

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