Epiperipatus sp (?) Onychophora:
The Peripatus or Velvetworm has received
a lot of attention since it used to be seen as a missing
link between the worms and the arthropods. Little
is known about these animals since they are rare and
difficult to locate. They appear to be associated
with ants and are sometimes found inside ant nests.
The two in the picture were found in a cluster of
four in soil at the Green
Hills Butterfly Ranch.
Find out more about the Peripatus
Callipogon barbatus (Coleoptera:
This very large beetle
(nearly 9 cm or 3¾" long)
is quite rare in Belize. Very little is known about
it. The larvae are woodborers.
gigantea. (Coleoptera: Buprestidae).
This large beetle
(5 cm or 2") is relatively common in forested
areas. The larva are borers in wood and the species
appears to be restricted to members of the Bombacaceae
family. This family includes species such as the Kapok
(Ceiba pentandra) and the Provision tree (Pachyra
aquatica). Flying beetles are attracted to any
large cylindrical object (including concrete pillars)
but quickly move on until they find an appropriate
This is the largest (4cm,
1¾") bioluminescent insect and it has
as having the greatest surface brightness, 45 millilamberts
(or 1/40 of a candle). The light emitted from the
2 spots on the thorax is actually bright enough to
read by (if you hold the beetle close to the lines
that you are reading that is).
The beetles are common in
forested areas and can be seen flying around just
after dusk. The sight of several beetles winding through
the trees is quite spectacular. The flight season
is from April through June.
sp?, (Heteroptera: Coreidae)
bug is quite attractive but it is also a pest on various
Both adults and larva suck fluids from young passionflower
shoots, causing them to wilt and die off.
(Coleoptera: Melolonthidae; Dynastinae)
This Rhinoceros Beetle grows
up to 9 cm (3¾") long (without the horns!)
and is a spectacular sight. The larvae live in large,
dead trees and take 3-4 years to complete their development.
Because of the rapid destruction of mature forests,
there are fewer and fewer large logs available for
the beetle to breed in. Not surprisingly, this species
is declining rapidly.
vagans (Arachnida: Araneae: Theraphosidae)
This is the most
common of the Belizean Tarantulas. The common name
is "red-rump" which refers to the abdomen
being covered in reddish fur. They are most common
in disturbed areas and this terrestrial species is
easily found by locating its burrow. Quite harmless.
See separate Tarantula
is smaller than the previous; it is also terrestrial
but prefers forest over open areas. It has only recently
been discovered and named (Reichling & West, 2000).
The species is named after its discoverer:
Jan Meerman. See the separate Tarantula
wasps are also known as "Tarantula Hawks".
They locate a Tarantula in its burrow, anaestisise
it and then drag it away to its own burrow as is happening
in this picture. Also notice the wasp egg on the abdomen
of this B. vagans victim.
Find out more about the sting
of the scorpion
Centruroides gracilis (Arachnida: Scorpiones:
This species occurs all over Central America and
the Caribbean (Including Florida). In Belize it is
the most common scorpion around. It reaches 80 - 146
mm (including tail) in length (3-6"). This species
is poisonous as are all scorpions. This however is
not a very dangerous species. I have been stung many
times and I am still alive! The sting is painful for
a very brief moment. But the aftereffects may take
up to 24 hours to completely disappear. Panic is your
biggest enemy in the case of a scorpion-sting in Belize.
Paraphrynus raptator (Arachnida:
This is a very common "whipspider"
in Belize. It is found in crevices between rocks,
under bark and in caves. The pedipalps are heavy and
used for capturing prey. The first pair of legs have
evolved into sensory tacticle appendages, and are
long and whip-like. These animals are very flat and
fast moving. They look "freaky" but are
actually quite harmless. They don't even have any
Fulgora laternaria (Homoptera:
This most unusual insect reaches
up to 10 cm (4") in length. Apart from its size,
the most astonishing feature is the inflated head.
This hollow ornament (see the real, small eye just
behind it) has the appearance of a lizard's head including
eyes, nostrils and grinning teeth! Hence the name
"alligator bug". Another common name is
This because of the widely held (but
false) belief that the hollow "head" contains
a light. "Peanutbug" is a more appropriate
common name due to the shape of the ornament. Little
or nothing is known about the biology of this oddity.
In Costa Rica the species is believed to be linked
to the tree Hymenaea coubaril (Leguminosae).
This tree is quite rare in Belize and I have found
specimens of Fulgoria most commonly on trunks
of Zanthoxylum trees (Rutaceae)
Choeradodis strumaria. (Mantodea: Mantidae)
Of the many praying mantids found in Belize, this
is one of the more easily identified species. The
pronotum of this species is flat and leaf-shaped.
Eurhinocricus sp?: (Diplopoda;
This is a giant millipede (12 cm or
5"). Millipedes are recognized by the 2 pairs
of legs per body segment. The centipedes have only
one pair per segment. These milipedes are harmless
but can emit a caustic fluid capable of staining skin
Pomacea flagellata (Gastropoda;
The applesnail is probably the most important animal
in the ecology of the Belizean wetlands. They are
large, extremely common, and food for a large number
of animals. Some species such as the Limpkin and the
Snail Kite, depend nearly entirely on this species
but even large predators such as the Morelet's Crocodile
eat them in huge quantities. There is an entire web
site dedicated to this family of snails.
Pachychilus indiorum (Gastropoda:
This is one of the "Jute"
snails found in Belize. Other reported species include
Pachychilus largillierti and P. galaphyrus.
All live in fast-flowing streams and rivers and are
good indicators of water quality. Recently, the construction
of the Mollejon Hydro-dam has been implicated in the
disappearance of Jutes downstream of the dam. Historically,
jutes have been eaten by humans and large deposits
of shells can be found in archaeological middens.
Even today, people still eat them.
cingulata (Apidae: Euglossini)
Males of this and related species pollinate
a number of Neotropical orchids such as this Catasetum.
These male bees visit the flowers nut so much as for
the nectar but in order to obtain certain chemicals
they need. For this reason the males can also be attracted
by using benzyl acetate and other chemical substances
|The bee to the right is incapacitated
by a pollinarium of Catasetum integerrimum
that is stuck to its wing. It was unable to remove this
pollinarium and only after I removed it myself, the
bee was able to fly again.