Friday, May 18, 2012

Things That Bite

May I present to you, a post dedicated to the creepy crawlies and such critters that make life oh-so interesting here at Lamanai. Despite their size, the things I will call “bugs” in general, have a not so small influence on life in the jungle. These pint sized miracles of nature come in many shapes and habits, and are very skilled at infiltrating any location where they don't “belong.”

Las hormigas. Ants. Depending on the type, a single one can get you to scrambling to get your hand up your pant leg, or have you wishing to drop your pants completely, as you're covered with hundreds before you've even realized you've disturbed their home. On one particular morning, heading into a new area to install a camera station, I was unaware that I would be introduced to the second type. Working with a Mennonite landowner named Jacob, my partner and I ventured out into a forested area surrounded by swamp. After choosing a spot for our camera site, we began to clear the area of unwanted vegetation. As fate would have it, on the very tree that was slated to have a camera on it, there was a nest, an abandoned termite nest. Once this nest was knocked to the ground, it's current inhabitants, unbeknown to us, were eager to let us know that they did not appreciate the new location of their home. Within seconds they were everywhere, covering us head to toe, and I mean head to toe, they were on my hat! These ants were small, and had a mean little bite, that stung. This was not a particularly painful bite, just an annoying one, especially when occurring simultaneously all over one's body. There was only one solution. Fire. Jacob had the brilliant idea of smoking out the ants. Although this method allowed us to quickly finish our work, we were still finding ants on us hours later.

Ticks. With little experience with ticks upon my arrival, I've gotten to know these little blood suckers well, or rather they've gotten to know me well. Usually, when you think of insects in the jungle, you probably think of extra large bodied, exotic bugs, this is quite the opposite for ticks. The ticks here are tiny and very hard to find! They cling to a persons' body, and wander to any location they find suitable and latch on often in hard to see/reach locations! So far I can count on my hands how many I've found on my body, and hope to keep it that way!

Leaf-cutter Ants
Others. Of course, there are plenty of other biting nuisances. At any given time I have multiple swollen bumps on my body, caused by mosquitoes, doctor-flies (given this name because you can't feel them as they cut you open) chiggers, and spiders. There are always new attack sites, before the previous ones have healed, leaving my body somewhat spotted with different secessions of scabs. No, being in the tropics isn't all glamorous. I'm not complaining though! At least I don't have stories about the varying poisonous plants!

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