The insects of the cloud forest of La Florida are found in astounding diversity. Our beetles (order Coleoptera) are especially numerous and beautiful.
Some of our more spectacular insects include the brilliant, metallic-green, scarab beetles (family Scarabaeidae), which are often to be seen zooming over the farm like flying jewels. Apparently beauty and intelligence aren’t always a pair in the insect world, for these beetles frequently crash into windows, walls, and people. One rare but unforgettable species of cricket (order Orthoptera) successfully hides itself among the lichen and moss filled trees of the forest using the light-green protuberance that sprout from odd places on its body, the effect is simultaneously beautiful and slightly ridiculous. One of our many many weevils (family Curculionidae) also uses lichen as a hiding place; it is the small but exquisite Lamprocyphus augustus. A common sight are the iridescent Sphecid wasps, alertly flicking their antenna to and fro as the scamper over mossy boulders, their dark blue wings vibrate almost imperceptibly in the sun. But don’t let the harmless beauty of their appearance fool you, for these small wasps are in search of spiders, which they will paralyze, lay eggs in, and imprison in a mud dungeon where they will be eaten alive by the wasps larvae! At night the visitor can lie back in his or her hammock and watch a dazzling display put on by La Florida’s firefly community, and listen to the crickets sing the night away.
Martin Zorrilla, an amateur entomologist who has studied the native insect fauna for his entire life, accompanies the guide, Roberto, on the walks, and introduces the groups to the fascinating world of insects. For those more interested, Martin offers an introduction to aquatic insects and their capture, as well as the loan of his dip-nets and other insect collecting equipment. Martin’s interest in aquatic life is due to the fact that the many small streams the forest are stocked with an unusually large numbers of insects. Our stream’s abundant insect life is due to the absence of pollution; indeed some of the insects I will mention are indicators of clean water. In Martin’s stream tour you can collect and examine numerous species of mayfly, stonefly, caddisfly, fly, dragonfly, damselfly, dobsonfly, and beetle nymphs as well as pond skaters, water beetles and, if you are really lucky, fresh water crabs! The stream tour is also an excellent opportunity to observe other freshwater animals such as the small native catfish and (if Martin is in a good mood and takes you down to the big river) Torrent Teranulates, Torrent Ducks, and, if you our ridiculously lucky, Fasciated Tiger-Herons (this bird has only been sighted once). To avoid general chaos and disturbing the stream ecosystem Martin will take a maximum of 4 people at a time on the river tour.
If requested we can set up a night-light and cloth tent that will attract many beautiful moths and other night insects. Frequent visitors to the night tent include Spider mimic moths, wasp mimic moths, Geometridae, Noctuidae, Notodontidae, Pyralidae, Saturnidae, and Sphingidae moths, as well as numerous families of crickets, beetles, and other insects. Martin will, to the best of his abilities, identify and describe the insects that arrive.