Nocturnal Macro-Adventure at Gamboa's Rainforest

Recently, our team  of photographers organized a nocturnal macro-shoot in a couple of trails around Gamboa town, bordering the rainforest; armed with three different macro lenses we were able to capture a plethora of very interesting animals.


Wandering Spider (Ctenidae)
The wandering spiders are the members of the spider family Ctenidae. Individuals like this are venomous nocturnal hunters, and disregarding that only members of the genus Phoneutria are known to pose potential danger to humans, all larger ctenids should be treated with caution. They usually don’t bother with the presence of our lights and lenses but we always avoid manipulating them (just in case).



Bark Mantis (Liturgusa sp.) 
These insects belong to a group called bark mantises, which are flatter and broader than the more commonly known mantis. The genus occurs only in Central and South America, and includes bark dwelling species, which live entirely on the trunks and branches of trees and run extremely fast. Most bark mantises are highly camouflaged to look like bark or lichen, they use their superior vision to hunt smaller insects. While most people think of praying mantises as stealthy ambush hunters, bark mantises actively pursue their prey and chase it down. Due to their camouflage and speed, bark mantises are not easy to capture.



Plant Bugs


Leaf-footed Bug (Paryphes flavocinctus)
The Coreidae are a large family of predominantly sap-sucking insects. The common names of Coreidae vary regionally. Leaf-footed bug refers to leaf-like expansions on the legs of some species. The Coreidae commonly are oval-shaped, with antennae composed of four segments, numerous veins in the membrane of the fore-wings, and externally visible repugnatorial stink glands. The body shape is quite variable; some species are broadly oval, others are elongated with parallel sides, and a minority are slender. 



Unknown Spider


 Planthopper (Fulgoromorpha)
Nymphs of many fulgoroids produce wax from special glands on the abdominal terga and other parts of the body. These are hydrophobic and help conceal the insects.


Katydid (Tettigoniidae)


Larva of a Forest Giant Owl Butterfly (Caligo eurilochus)
We found this larva (caterpillar) feasting on a Heliconia (H. latispatha). The forest giant owl (Caligo eurilochus) ranges from Mexico, through Central America, to the Amazon River basin in South America. The larvae feed on several hostplants, including Calathea latifolia (Marantaceae), Heychium sp. (Zingiberaceae), Heliconia latispatha (Heliconiaceae), and Musa spp. (Musaceae). The first instar of the larvae are white with two orange/brown stripes down the length of their body leading to two little spindles at the end. Later on in life the larvae develop hairs mimicking spines and a crown made of four horns at the back of their head


Bordered Plant Bug (Fibrenus sp.)
Largidae is a family of insects within the order Hemiptera. They are commonly known as bordered plant bugs because many have contrasting coloured edges to their elytra. There are fifteen genera and about one hundred species. They are mostly wide-bodied, have no ocelli and have a four-segmented rostrum. The bugs in this family are generally ground-dwelling or they scramble around in plants, bushes and trees. They are phytophagous, feeding on plant juices and seeds.


White Broad-Nosed Weevil (Compus)
The Entiminae are a large subfamily in the weevil family, containing most of the short-nosed or broad-nosed weevils. Some of these weevils are notorious pests of major economic importance.


Carpenter ant (Camponotus sp.) infected with a 
brain-controlling parasitic fungus (Ophiocordyceps sp.)
Fungi of the genus Ophiocordyceps or so-called zombie fungi need insects (on this case ants) to complete their life cycle. When this ant came across fungal spores while foraging, the fungus infects the insect and quickly spreads throughout its body. Fungal cells in the ant's head release chemicals that hijack the insect's central nervous system. The fungus forces the ant to climb up vegetation and clamp down onto a leaf or twig before killing it. It then grows a spore-releasing stalk out of the back of the victim's head to infect more ants on the ground below. This genus contains about 140 species that grow on insects. Each species of fungus has its own host.



Cordyceps fungi as explained by David Attenborough on Planet Earth documentary.




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