We Have Many Interesting Visitors: Critters & Insects

Costa Rica’s tourism mascot, the three-toed sloth, is a very cute guy. We recently had one visit us, hanging out in the tree next to our pool area for a few days. He was feasting on the leaves and fruit of a Guarumo tree.

The sloth captivated us for hours on end. We became obsessed with tracking his movements in the tree – and since we’re basically hold up at the house due to the Coronavirus, we did have the time to watch! Eddie had his camera and tripod set and ready to capture the best poses.

Then, the day after we discovered the sloth, our neighbor, Ray, noticed we had a family of Crested owls in the trees above a section of our driveway. For several weeks, a male and female along with their young offspring perched in the same spot during the day. The Crested owl is not very common in Costa Rica, so that made it even more special.

Costa Rica is home to a species of Army ant known as the Cleaner ant. These ants constantly undertake raids in the jungle, killing and taking home insects and small animals. Their main prey are the nests of other ants whose eggs and larvae they steal. Army ants do not build nests themselves. Instead they bivouac for a night to several weeks in hollow logs or underground. The ants are almost blind, so they rely mostly on their sense of smell to navigate.

Army ants’ bivouac, a temporary home made up of their own bodies. (photo by Daniel Kronauer)

Consider yourself lucky should army ants visit your house as they will clean it from scorpions, ants and cockroaches. They systematically cover all of the areas and when done, they leave as quickly as they arrived. The Costa Ricans call them Limpiadores, which means Cleaners in English. Check out the video of their recent visit to our house. (We did manage to keep them from coming inside the house!)

Another curious insect here is the stick bug. The ones we normally see are skinny, twig-like and measure 4 to 6 inches long. However, we recently had a visit from a different species of stick bug – a larger and very odd looking one. After seeing some of the weird creatures from the insect world here, it is obvious where the creators of monsters for horror movies might get some of their ideas.

When provoked, this guy spread out some wing-like projections from its back.
All folded up and looking like the stick it is holding onto.
A butterfly on a butterfly! The live one is a Dryas iulia or the Julia butterfly.

We often have Gladiator tree frogs visit our pool at night. They swim around and cling to the edge by the waterline. It is amazing how loud their croaking is given their small size! Like most frogs they are active at night. When seen around the pool, they appear greenish, but they seem to be able to change their skin color to match their surroundings while hiding out during the day – just like a chameleon. Below are a couple of photos of these frogs taken during the day.

We got a real treat when a Rufous-tailed hummingbird made its nest in a small palm tree next to our house. They are master craftsmen when it comes to nest building. They even use spiderweb in the construction of their nests and to hold overhead leaves in place to act as a roof!

When mama was away, I got a close-up view into the nest. The opening is only about the size of a half dollar coin. Notice the lichens placed around the outside as camouflage.
June 21, 2020 – Our 40th wedding anniversary

We had wonderful plans to celebrate our 40th anniversary, a visit to North Carolina to visit our children and a three week trip to Ireland, all of which was cancelled due to COVID-19. However, we are so grateful to have good health and to be riding out the storm of the pandemic in beautiful Costa Rica!

7 thoughts on “We Have Many Interesting Visitors: Critters & Insects

  1. Loved your photos and nature lesson, Ellen! Such fun to see some of the animals I haven’t seen in ages. As you know, things are in a lot of chaos here in the U.S., so you are probably better off staying there, at least for now. Let me know when you do decide to come back for a visit. In the meantime, stay well! Love, Judy

  2. Outstanding pictures! The sloth and the owls are beautiful. Congratulations for 40 years. Evelyn and I celebrated our 35th June 9th in lock down. You really our better off staying there until 45 is out of the White House and there is a vaccine for covid-19. It’s still going to be a mess for a while, but hopefully the country will return to normal.

  3. Wow!! We loved looking through your posts! So many cool experiences and what great documentation! Thanks for all of the joy you guys share.

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