Category Archives: insects in Mexico

Crawling or Flying

Most things crawl before they fly, if they fly at all.  The wood termites shown in the photo have flown into my pool, chewed their wings off, and are treading water or floating on their cast off wings to get to the side of the pool so they can crawl up to my wooden beams and make a meal of them.  The golden orb spider spins zigzag designs in her web as she crawls to its center.  I haven’t been able to determine why. The orange butterflies were on a lifejacket on a boat on the Amazon.  Attracted by the bright color, they were no doubt disappointed by the taste.  The tiny green moth flew down to my computer screen one night and crawled around a bit before it settled on a nice spot. The hummingbird moth larvae are fascinating in their various mutations before turning into moths. I never have been able to figure out what the crystal shapes are growing out of the one caterpillar. 

Most of my bird watching takes place at the beach, thus the photos of pelicans and gulls. Except for the photo of the walking stick on the cap and the hand-held giant leaf hopper, which were both taken in  the Amazon rainforest, all of the other photos  were taken at my house above Lake Chapala in Mexico.



Go HERE to join the photo prompt and post your photos of crawling or flying.

Web Mavens

I have seen the most unusual spiders since moving to Mexico 15 years ago.  The one little black and white triangular spider, I’ve spotted at least 3 different times in the past 15 years and they always have an uneven number of legs.  Must run in the family as it can’t be possible that the same spider has lived for 15 years.  The Golden Orb Weaver spider is my favorite.  It weaves the most interesting web.  This one remained in this spot where I saw it every day on the way to my car for over a month.




Mosquito netting above my head
and tucked securely around my bed.
What person forced to resort to it
hasn’t made  a sport of it
at bedtime, just as they recline,
shut off the lights, and hear the whine
of a mosquito, far then near
directly buzzing in their ear!
Mosquito netting so fine and thin,
both keeps them out and keeps them in.


I knew if I tried hard enough that I could find my picture of the mosquito–netted bed in my treehouse!  Finally found it in my Facebook photos.




What are these leaves doing scattered over the terrace just hours after Pasiano swept?  I decide to investigate.


Aha! The evidence is pretty clear when I find a chewed-up leaf.


Can you see those razor-sharp incisors about to close around this leaf?


More leaf-cutter compadres ascend my hibiscus, scouting out fodder for the hundreds of ants who will trek here in darkness to strip the bush and carry it away.


The team work is so incredible that I hate to interfere, but if I don’t, there will be no foliage surrounding my house by the time I get home in two months.


As above, the “timberjack” ant saws away on yet another leaf,


I scatter pellets.


By tomorrow, all the pellets will be gone, carried away by these bearer ants–and hopefully, the ants will be gone, too.

Hormigas, by the way, is Spanish for Leafcutter Ants. (I didn’t want to give away the answer before the question was asked.) They are fascinating to watch, with their generals and slaves, double machete-weilding lumberjacks dropping pieces of leaves to the bearers below, tinier slave ants carrying many times their own weight, some ESP that causes swarms of ants to appear to help any ant who needs help over an obstacle or out of a hole.  I could watch all day as bush after vine is depleted of leaves and flowers, but then–I’d have no bushes or flowers, so I resort to the little pellets that, carried back to the nest, with luck for me and no luck for the ants, will clear it out.  Cruel nature either way.


Katydid? Just What Did Katy Do?

IMG_6020Two months after my husband’s death in California, I moved to Mexico.  Once there, my days were filled with the completion of my house and the buying of appliances, furniture, and familiarizing myself with the language, processes, mores and customs of Mexico.  Although at first I knew no one in my new country of choice, my life quickly filled with the observation of the strange plants, animals and insects that appeared one by one to claim my wonder.  After 14 years, they still do! This poem was written during my first month in my new house.  As stories do, this story was just repeated in a slightly different version yesterday.  You can find that story HERE, but the poem below is fourteen years old.

Katydid? Just What Did Katy Do?

If you were in a salad or a stir fry, I would have taken you for a pea pod,
crunched you right down with the next forkful.
But instead you stand in bright green relief against the gray trash can lid,
stroking your proboscis with your curious hand shaped like a snake’s tongue.
Your six legs in graduated pairs:  long, longer, longest
bend constantly in 360 degree angles
as each moves in turn to your anemone mouth
which plays each like a piano
trying to stroke music from the keys.
As hand after foot after foot
vanishes into your mouth––
front flap like an apron hanging down––
I wonder if you are perhaps feeding
on nourishment too minuscule for human eyes.

Your broad chest expands and deflates like a bellows.
Praying mantis, grasshopper, leaf-hopper, pea pod––
Whatever it is you most resemble––none have your talent or your wing power.
Your alien protuberant eyes like small yellow beebees.
Now trapped in my jar, you define your glass prison with leg after leg, like a mime.
Colorful strayer from a world of green,
what do you make of this white world of mine?
I have stolen you for a closer look, and for this short hour,
You have enthralled me with your alien looks.
Your mystery.
So much I’ve been told of everything here in this new land strange to me,
each from a different point of view,
that now I feel the need to look at everything more closely for myself.
But you, in a jar, perhaps not knowing you are observed,
farm each foot in turn for something so infinitesimal,
then drum drum the glass.
“What is there?” you seem to ask.
“What is this new world?”
Nothing to nourish you here.
I sit staring in at you.
That artichoke mouth doesn’t look made for singing,
opening like petals of a flower as you put your foot in it.
Like an old man pushing himself backwards
from piece of furniture to piece of furniture,
you limp around the glass on geriatric legs and padded feet.

We move to the terrace,
where I put you down
On the leaf of a geranium
in the crumbling pot up on the wall.
Putting your heels down first,
you test each new leaf for it’s ability to support or give.
Each hand and foot is like a tiny forked penis hanging from green testicles–
the penis one forked finger, mining space
then gripping the leaf, fore and aft as your
anemone mouth
moves over it like a slice of watermelon
held the wrong way––
not side to side like a calendar illustration,
but front to back, even bites
increasing its inside arc.
In five minutes, one-fourth of the leaf is gone.
and you move to another
like a child with a cookie in each hand.
My ink run out, I leave you
And when I come back, you are invisible
against the potted geranium that I have set you down in.
Your mouth like a different insect
reaches tendril arms out for the leaf edge,
takes sharp bites–like a leaf cutter ant.
The white front flap of your mouth
sweeping the diminishing leaf edge like a vacuum cleaner.
One-quarter of the leaf gone in five minutes.
You fly to the tree branch next to me, startling me,
as finally we stand eye-to-eye at the same level.
You stand more clearly defined,
for you are the yellow green of geranium,
not the dark green of this tree.
Here you are more blended in shape than color

As you change your diet––
eating not the leaves, but stems of leaves––
you rock on a hobby horse of legs.
Your chest like bagpipes
expands and releases,
rippling like an air balloon.
Now that so many of your mysteries have been revealed,
I solve your only secret left––
the origin of your song.
You play “Las Mananitas” for your lady,
with your compadres joining for the chorus,
one wing your violin,
the other your bow.
My night newly passionless,
fills with the sounds of yours.


To hear Katydids, you can go HERE. And for a fascinating closeup video of what I experienced first hand above, go HERE.

See if you can distinguish “my” katydid from his background in these pictures.



Change, Change, Change

                                                    Change, Change, Change

For the fourteen years I’ve been in Mexico, a bright green caterpillar (actually, the larval stage of the hornworm at this stage)  has invaded my Virginia Creeper vines.  It wouldn’t be much of a problem except for the fact that they poop lots of black pellets about 1/2 inch in diameter directly onto my glass tabletop and all over the terrace floor.  I can never see them against the green of the foliage, so three or four times a year, Pasiano is recruited to use his keen eye to discover them and relocate them to my houseless extra lot next door.

Version 2 IMG_3989 (1) IMG_3992
I think his/her little green tail looks like one of those little brushes that is used in place of floss or a toothpick to clean between teeth.

If we don’t catch them during the green stage, they begin to morph into a creatures you wouldn’t believe were stages of the same being.

DSC07827This goofy little guy looks like he has crystals coming out of the top of his head. (Click to enlarge)


Version 2And this guy was caught at the same time we found the littler guy above.

DSC07821This shot shows their size in relation to each other.  The larger one is four or five inches long. Their heads look like the rolled part of an uninflated balloon  and are translucent and polka dotted.  The racing stripes add an extra flair in the littler guy whereas the larger one looks more sedate in his brown and white striped pale gray suit. Two different caterpillars or stages of the same creature?  And, are they later stages of the green larva?  If so, why is the one guy smaller?  Questions, questions.

IMG_4892 IMG_4891
This is the next stage of worm that we found.  By now, I have discovered that it is a Hornless Hornworm (Acemon Sphinx)  and that they lose the little horn on their rear end (you can see the detail on the first green stage above) after their first molt and it is replaced on each of the subsequent larval stages with an eyespot that you can clearly see in the picture below.
IMG_4890That one eyespot on the tail end seemed spookier when I thought it was a cyclops eye on the head of the hornworm!


There is a rather long and unbelievable story that goes with this stage of the caterpillar that I will tell at a later time. In fact, this is the one hornworm that became my “mascota” (pet.)

The most interesting part of this story is what this caterpillar turns into.  So far as I know, I’ve never seen the insect stage–perhaps because I am too insistent that Pasiano removes all the larva to relocate them.  I have just this year discovered that they actually turn into hummingbird moths that are avid pollinators  of many of the flowers I grow.  They are also beautiful–often being mistaken for hummingbirds.  I don’t think it is fair for me to download a picture of the moth, since all of the photos above were taken by me and if I had been more aware of anything other than my Virginia creeper, I would have known that it might be worth putting up with the worm poop to be able to see the hummingbird moth.

So hereafter, I  vow that I will not relocate any more hornworm larva or caterpillars at any stage.   And it may take another year, but I promise to take a picture of the first hummingbird moth that I see.


Hide and Go Seek in Paradise

                                                Hide and Go Seek in Paradise

Yesterday Morrie, who was lying right in front of my chair behind my heels, his nose between my feet, suddenly jumped three feet in the air.  I looked down and this lovely fellow was on the floor between my feet.  I quickly took off a shoe and bashed him three or four times, which wasn’t very effective because I had Croc sandals on, but I finally scraped him to death. Morrie licked his lips and then his paw, but didn’t keep licking and didn’t swell or cry.  Something must have happened to make him jump, but he has had no ill effects.

IMG_4636 (1)
I have found five of these creatures on my bedroom or bathroom floor in the past four days!  I found two this morning alone and I think nine have met their demise by my foot in the past couple of weeks.  I don’t know what is bringing them in at this point as I hadn’t seen any for a few months.

The fellow pictured was about 2 inches long from his head to his stinger, not counting his pincers. Some are black, some reddish brown and some tan. Although the huge black ones are the scariest, supposedly the small tan ones are the most poisonous.  About six days ago I took my capris off a hook on the wall, put them on, then put on a blouse and walked into the bathroom, which is better lit than my bedroom.  I looked down and saw a twist of thread on the thigh of my capri leg and picked it off, but when I did, it moved; so I quickly dropped it onto the floor to discover it was one of the tiny beige scorpions!!!  I stomped and scraped it.  Can’t figure out why it didn’t sting me.

I’ve learned never to walk barefoot, but do occasionally.  Once in the middle of the night I neglected to put on my sandals when I went to the bathroom.  As I sat down, I felt something prick my heel and immediately shook my foot and a scorpion fell down. I felt only a slight prick and it never really burned or hurt much.  I think it had stung me on the tougher skin of my heel and just didn’t puncture it enough.

Another time a scorpion climbed between the heel of my Birkenstock and my heel as my heel raised up when I was walking.  As I rested it back down, I felt and heard a crackling noise and I investigated to find I’d cut the scorpion in two.  The front part of his body was still in my shoe under my heel whereas the stinger and rear legs were on the floor!!!

Probably my worst near miss with one of these evil creatures was when  I took my swim suit down from the shower nozzle where I had hung it to dry and for some reason shook it out (I never had before) and a scorpion fell out of the flap of material over the crotch.  Yes–Ew.  I know.  Ouch!  Now I always shake out clothes.  Well, except for my capris the other day.

Yesterday I asked Pasiano to spray for scorpions  in front of all the doors that lead into the house. So far it seems not to have kept them out, but perhaps it will slow them down long enough for me to catch them before they catch me.

Living in paradise is pretty nice, folks, but it isn’t free. Weather’s perfect, nature is gorgeous, labor and food and lodging are comparatively cheap, but oh yeah.  We have scorpions!!!