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From both sides now

From both sides now

This beauty has two sides that are equally incredible. Some butterflies have one drab side and one bright side depending on what part of the forest canopy they forage and hang out in. (From the specimen collection of Annette Aiello)


Parasites

Parasites

(Right) There is a difference between living off your host and devouring your host. These wasps devoured their host. This is what emerged from the pupa.


Scientist trabajando

Scientist trabajando

Workstation of entomologist Annette Aeillo. She was showing me a caterpillar that hides itself by curling up to resemble a bird dropping on a leaf.


Magic cabinet

Magic cabinet

Here is Annette Aiello in her lab, showing one of her cabinets of specimens. She’s worked for Smithsonian since 1977, the year I started grad school. Her bookcases are full of notebooks, carefully numbered and kept. Her father was a famous manikin designer and he sculpted them and then, later, even manufactured them in their […]


Morpho

Morpho

Here’s a different Morpho variation (than the one on the blog cover)…and there are numerous Morpho species. Their wing scales actually are CLEAR, not blue, but just reflect that color. Here, you see the male and female…the pupae next to them don’t belong to them, but their pupae are rather larger like these.


Curing a butterfly

Curing a butterfly

Aiello has a special cabinet where her newer specimens are “curing”. Carefully laid out in constructions she’s honed over the years. This one is recent…a specimen someone brought to her.


Room for antennae

Room for antennae

This pattern would be camouflage in the forest. Seeing multitudes of them together is mysteriously inspirational for me. The pupae casing has room for antennae in it’s form. Aiello saves each piece as an artifact, labeling them with a tiny description in 5pt type. The boxes remind me of artist Joseph Cornell.


Quatro Pupae

Quatro Pupae

The variety of tiny shapes of the pupae of the Agraulis vanillae and the furry, discarded head of the caterpillar are sculptural wonders.


The other side

The other side

I posted a live Owl butterfly in October of last year that was living on BCI. The amazement of how evolution could be such a precise painter never fades.


Transformative Heliconius

Transformative Heliconius

No one knows exactly why there is a row of spines on the pupa. When speaking with Aiello, one realizes that the number of questions about butterflies, and …insects is infinite. There is so much to know about so many species and we have not scratched the surface. Hopefully, some of the information we glean […]


No relief in site

No relief in site

This is the daily grind of traffic home at the end of a work day. Every day is a bad traffic day, with some being unbelievable, many-hour long trials. We’ve been consistently told that this will not improve anytime soon. Human Resources at STRI has even had to consider strategies for workers whose traffic-tortured commutes […]


Endless

Endless

In Minnesota, we like to joke that there are only two seasons: Winter and Road construction. Here there really ARE two seasons: Wet season and Dry season….but road construction seems constant. It must be impossible to build roads that will last here…due to the rains and the geologic layers on the isthmus of Panama. Gaping […]


Amador billboard

Amador billboard

One queen…..


Protest unheeded

Protest unheeded

This is a look from Casco at the construction of a new highway that will be built over the Pacific shore just out from Casco. People protested it’s construction, saying it was unnecessary and would be an eyesore and blot out one of the city’s beautiful vista’s, but Martinelli’s crew started construction anyway.  Behind is […]


Graffiti trash

Graffiti trash

These are some the newer trash cans that stand on the streets in Casco Viejo.


Teatro Naçional

Teatro Naçional

This small theater in Casco Viejo is like a beautiful little jewel box. First a convent, and then an army barracks, the building was remodeled in 1907 by italian architect Genaro Ruggieri into this magnificent theater.


Roberto Lewis mural

Roberto Lewis mural

Mural painted in 1907 by Panamanian artist Roberto Lewis. Impressive and in need of restoration.


Tiny dancers

Tiny dancers

I was invited to attend a recital of belly dance at a dance school in Balboa on a Saturday evening. These girls are starting young and confident. The applause for this group was the largest of the evening.


Attitude

Attitude

This Russian woman’s body art wrapped around her hips and back.


self adoration

self adoration

She wanted to remember looking like a princess.


Belly to the floor

Belly to the floor

These dancers had finished their big performance and were relieved and happy.


Agua mucho agua

Agua mucho agua

The view from my pad. The rainy season is really ramping up. It makes the traffic even worse here in Panama. The abundant water, the warmth of the sun, the constancy of the climate make the perfect setting for biodiversity. This tree is a species of green mango that grows around building 183.


Not welcome

Not welcome

I followed German bat researcher Mirjam Knornschild (Universitat Ulm) as she photographed a small group of bats under the eaves. She has been researching this particular species and explained that the bat with the blue and yellow markers in “A” is an outsider, introduced to a local colony of her species on the island. They […]


Strategies to avoid being eaten

Strategies to avoid being eaten

How can you NOT love insects? So very cool.