Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Vecinos Silvestres" (Wild Neighbors) Part 2, Insects

If you have been following this blog, you know that living in a city here doesn't mean that I don't see wildlife in the neighborhood. When I found this moth dead on the floor today, I decided to post a few pictures of insect neighbors I have run across in the house and back yard. This moth does not appear remarkable until you consider its size. The wingspan of this specimen measures more than six inches/15 centimeters. They are nocturnal creatures, and sometimes end up in the house looking for shelter during the daylight hours, where they often die if I don't see
them and shoo them out. Due to this propensity, they are known locally by the Mayan name of X-majan naj (shma-HAN nah), which means prestador de casas, or house borrower. Due to their size, I have mistaken these moths in the dark for bats or lost birds. Although the coloring is not spectacular, the wings of these moths are beautiful, with a range of colors from black, through many shades of brown, gray and blue. I couldn't get a wings-spread picture of of this one because it was already dry when I found it.

These catarinas, or lady bird beetles, what we as kids used to call lady bugs, hatched on a plant in the patio. They are very tiny; the whole clump is no more than an inch/2 centimeters across. I watched them for a day or so, and they seemed to hang out by what apparently are their egg casings. Suddenly they were gone and I have never seen one with this color pattern again.

Mariposas...butterflies. There are so very many butterflies, but they are very hard to photograph. This one rested on a small papaya plant long enough for me to get the camera and return.

These wasps are only one of the many varieties in the area. They form small colonies, where I estimate that they raise no more than one hundred young at a time. They don't rile easily, and I find I can normally brush them away without inciting an attack. One time, however, I was stung in the face when I began to hack away at some overgrown banana plants, hot having noticed a colony of these wasps among the leaves. I avoided most of the angry swarm by jumping in the pool until they had dispersed.

I saved my favorite photo for last. This milpies, or millipede, was dead on the walk outside the kitchen one morning, of no apparent cause. It looked so perfect that it resembled one of those fake rubber worms we used to scare each other with as children. It took very little time for an army of black ants to show up and, working in perfect unison, begin hauling it away.

I'll write about more of my wild neighbors soon.


  1. I also got stung, or perhaps bitten by a wasp when I was trimming a tree down in Merida. A few days later, my neighbors decided to burn the grass in their overgrown yard and the smoke made the wasps depart. I ran out with the clippers and finished the job. If I do it again, I'll be sure to make some smoke.

  2. Hunting for a photo of the gigantic moth that attacked Larry last night in Merida, crashing his head into a lamp post and nearly knocking him senseless.... this photo on Google images, and then to find it's from you, Marc. Sweet.


I appreciate comments, but will delete comments that are rude, offensive or off topic. Unfortunately, due to the heavy volume of spam, comment moderation has been enabled. I will try to approve comments promptly, but your patience is appreciated.
If you have technical trouble leaving your comment, please email it to:
and I will post it for you.