Friday, November 6, 2009

The GreenTracks Naturalist

The Giant Amazon Silkworm Moth (Rothschildia sp.) spends most of its life as a large, green caterpillar. The spectacular adults live only long enough to mate.

Assassin Bugs (family Reduviidae) exist in a bewildering array of forms and colors in the Amazon. All possess piercing mouthparts through which they suck the juices of their food. Some feed exclusively upon plant matter while others are predators of insects.

Orb spiders (Araneae sp.) are common in Amazonian rainforest. Some species produce webs of unbelievable strength and one has been copied to produce a material several times stronger than kevlar!

The Amazon Tree Runner (Plica plica) is a showy reptile that lives on the trunks of very large trees. The only way to get close to them is by night, when they can be found sleeping at low elevations.

Amazon Bird Spider, Avicularia urticans, feeds on a gecko (Hemidactylus mabouia). Despite their unsavory reptuations, these spiders are quite harmless and are interesting to observe.

The Yellow-spotted Sideneck (Podocnemis unifilis), known locally in Peru as "Terecaya," is a historically important source of food. Unfortunately, the habit of excavating the nests of these turtles, easily found on sandy beaches, in order to consume the eggs, has severely reduced their numbers.



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