Friday, September 2, 2011

Creepy Crawlies of the Amazon: Insects and Bats

My least favorite part to any exotic trip I take is the creepy crawlies that live there. No matter what I do to prepare myself I am always scared of spiders and not such a big fan of the other bugs too! Now insects have never stopped me from going to a destination- after all I’ve been in the bush in Tanzania, the volcanic mountains of Rwanda, the cloud forests of Panama and the rainforest of Borneo so I’ve pretty much seen it all. But without a doubt I will still screech when I see a spider crawling in my bed. I don’t mind insects when I’m in their territory, but my room and especially my bed is my space and spiders and scorpions and roaches and whatever else is not welcome in my bed! The beds at Napo have nets and are kept very clean, but it is the jungle and I managed to find a few roaches, some cicadas, some large spiders, and even one scorpion in my room. Luckily my amazing guide, Norby, was very cool about coming to my rescue to remove unwanted insects. It is the jungle so I did get a lot of mosquito bites and a wasp bite while out exploring. Luckily I did not encounter any bot flies while I was there, which are horrifying flies that lay their eggs on mosquitoes or horseflies, which then bite humans and lay the larva inside your skin. It is horrific and has given me many a nightmare. My guide at Napo had had two bot fly infections and every time we saw a horse fly I dove for cover!

My guides quickly learned that I did not like spiders and to not point them out to me as we canoed on the river. One night at dinner my guides were talking to each other in Spanish about a large tarantula that was apparently just next to my boat for a very long time while I was photographing two Jacamar birds hunting for insects. He luckily refrained from telling me then or I would have probably tipped the boat! My Spanish isn’t great, but I understood the word tarantula and was freaked out for the rest of the evening.

The scorpion in my room was a pretty frightening experience too and it was definitely a moment where I realized how fear can play tricks on you. It was very early in the morning and I was getting ready for our morning excursion and as I walked to my bathroom a scorpion jumped out onto me (probably crawled, but felt like it jumped) from behind my light switch. I promptly shook it off not even seeing what it was. When it hit the floor I screamed and as I was barefoot I quickly backed away from it. I through a towel on top of it and ran up to the main lodge asking for help saying it was a GIGANTIC scorpion. The staff came with special tongs to remove it and brought out this tiny scorpion that they said was under the towel I through down. They asked me if there was another one because this one was so tiny- had I seen a larger one too? Sadly I told them no and that my mind must have been playing tricks on me because it seemed so large before! Later I learned that smaller scorpions are in fact more poisonous so it would have been better to be a larger one, but I wasn’t stung and as always, all is well.

I didn’t get any pictures of the creepy crawlies I detest like scorpions and spiders, but I got a few pictures to share with you of other interesting insects like butterflies, leaf cutter ants, grasshoppers and some amazing caterpillars. After Gomantong Cave in Borneo I am not the biggest fan of bats, but here I really liked seeing them because they eat the bad bugs! It was cool to watch them swoop down over the water at night eating the bugs along the surface.


Untitled from Rebecca Yale on Vimeo.


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