Nocturnal Macro Photography at Pipeline Road, Panama (pt. 1)

We are back to the macro world, and nothing could be better than going to Pipeline Road on a nocturnal  photographic tour. 

We started our journey picking up all our gear. For a macro shoot this includes not only our photographic gear but also knee pads, flashlights and headlights,  insect repellent (ironically), water bladder bags and tall rubber boots. Then, we stopped at a Subway (the sandwiches' place) to fill up our thanks and arrived at the trail just on time for the sunset.

Immediately we started to hear and see frogs, but we were not ready yet. We had to gear up and put together the cameras. Weather was excellent, the sky was clear, cool temperature, with no chance of rain but humidity was extreme and our equipment paid the price. From time to time a flash didn't fire.

We walked in for about four hours while hearing a Crested Owl (Lophostrix cristata) consistently through the night, and then went out just before midnight after getting a decent variety of subjects photographed as shown below.


Bee's (Apoidea superfamily) mouthparts are adapted for both chewing and sucking by having both a pair of mandibles and a long proboscis for sucking up nectar.

Ghost Anole (Anolis lemurinus)

Can you see it? This guy (Araneae order) was very shy, it was building a cobweb but when we approached to make pictures it went for cover trusting on its camouflage.


This long legged spider (Araneae order) was reminiscent of a spider crab.



A bug of the Heteroptera suborder, probably of the Alydidae family, commonly known as Broad-headed Bugs.

During these nocturnal tours in the rainforest, you must beware of poisonous snakes (hence the rubber boots) and mosquitoes, and also of some blood-sucking Assassin Bugs species (Reduviidae), also members of the Heteroptera suborder. A more serious problem than their bites is the fact that several of these haematophagous in Central and South America transmit the potentially fatal trypanosomal Chagas disease.


Buprestidae is a family of beetles known as Jewel Beetles or metallic wood-boring beetles because of their glossy iridescent colors. The eyes are large and complete, and lack ocelli; antennas are sawed, of eleven sections.


During our walk we saw several bioluminescent insects but most were either flying around or not willing to collaborate, except the one above. The most commonly known Fireflies (Lampyridae) are nocturnal, although there are numerous species that are diurnal and most diurnal species are not luminescent. They are beetles and not flies.


The king of the night was of course this Longhorn Beetle (Taeniotes amazonum) with antennae longer than  its body. This guy was found by our photographer Julio who convinced it to pose for the session. We have been able to identify the species under the Taeniotes genus which has several flat faced longhorn beetles with the yellow and black combination.


Speciomerus giganteus a member of the beetles' subfamily Bruchinae known as Bean Weevils or Seed Beetles, now placed in the family Chrysomelidae, though they have historically been treated as a separate family. They are granivores, and typically infest various kinds of seeds or beans, living for most of their lives inside a single seed. The family includes about 1,350 species found worldwide. Bean weevils are generally compact and oval in shape, with small heads somewhat bent under. Although their mandibles may be elongated, they do not have the long snouts characteristic of true weevils.


Longhorn Beetle (Cerambycidae)



Straight-snouted Weevil (Arrhenodes sp.)

Brentidae is a family of weevils which doesn't have elbowed antennae. They are part of the Curculionoidea superfamily.


True Weevils or Snout Beetles are members of the Curculionidae family. They are recognized by their distinctive long snouts and geniculate antennae with small clubs. They are part of the Curculionoidea superfamily.



Crickets or Katydids? (Orthoptera order)

Treehopper (Membracidae)

Toad or Frog? (Anura order)

We found the little guy above, measuring about 1 cm (0.4 inch), and observed much more species but as usual not all of them get photographed. We will have a second part with Julio's photos and another macro-adventure very soon, so stay tuned...