Nocturnal Macro-Adventure - Featured subfamily: Kissing Bugs (Triatominae)

We continued the Nocturnal Macro-Adventures in Gamboa, where we continue the findings of interesting (and dangerous) small subjects that inhabit the rainforest.


Red-eyed Grasshopper (Coscineuta coxalis)


The members of Triatominae, a subfamily of Reduviidae, are also known as conenose bugs, kissing bugs, assassin bugs, or vampire bugs. Other local names for them used in the Latin Americas include barbeiros, vinchucas, pitos and chinches. Most of the 130 or more species of this subfamily are haematophagous (feeds on vertebrate blood); a very few species feed on other invertebrates. 

They are mainly found and widespread in the Americas, with a few species present in Asia, Africa, and Australia. These bugs usually share shelter with nesting vertebrates, from which they suck blood. In areas where Chagas disease occurs (from the southern United States to northern Argentina), all triatomine species are potential vectors of the Chagas disease parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, but only those species (such as Triatoma infestans and Rhodnius prolixus) that are well adapted to living with humans are considered important vectors.

Chagas disease is classified by eh World Bank as the most serious parasitic disease of the Americas. Although, the protozoan parasites are not injected with the saliva of the bug, and instead, it is excreted with the bug’s feces and urine. The most common way of obtaining the disease is by inadvertently scratching the bite while sleeping, thereby contaminating one's fingers with fecal droplets, and then rubbing one’s nose, mouth, or eyes.

Not all kissing bugs carry the parasite that produces the disease, only individuals that have fed on a mammal carrying it in its blood. In most mammals the protozoans only circulate in the blood stream for brief intervals. However, they are more or less permanently present in the blood of opossums.


Jumping Bristletail (Archaeognatha). This is an order of wingless insects, and some of the most evolutionarily primitive.

Archaeognatha are small insects with elongated bodies and backs that are arched, especially over the thorax. They have three long tail-like structures, of which the lateral two are cerci, while the medial filament, which is longest, is an epiproct. The antennae are flexible. The two large compound eyes meet at the top of the head, and there are three ocelli. The mouthparts are partly retractable, with simple chewing mandibles and long maxillary palps.

Jumping bristletails superficially resemble silverfish but are more cylindrical, have relatively huge eyes, and are capable of jumping. They are mostly nocturnal and feed on algae, lichens and decaying vegetation. There are more than 500 named species worldwide.




A very cute representative of the cockroach order (Blattodea)


Caterpillar (Lepidoptera)


 
Thread-legged Bug (Emesinae), also a subfamily of the Reduviidae (assassin bugs). They are conspicuously different from the other reduviids by their very slender body form.


Scorpion (Tityus)


Anole lizard (Anolis)