Don't Let the Big Bugs Block Your View of the Little Ones in Costa Rica

Assassin bug
Assassin bug (Photo credit: Gerry Dincher)
Big bugs! That's what often sticks in the minds of people who have been to the tropics for their 2-week vacation. They can be impressive, that's for sure, and Costa Rica certainly has its share of big bugs, and maybe then some. We usually view them with wonder, not fear, and that goes double for some of the smallest residents of the insect family here. The ones that often get overlooked, or are just too fuzzy for these tired eyes to see the details.

Small brown praying mantis on wall
Miniature Praying Mantis, 1" long
Actually, most of the tiniest bugs, we don't want to see, as they bite or poke us with their dull needles, or in the worst cases, plant something into our bodies. Yikes! The mosquitoes, biting flies, chiggers, fleas, etc. probably don't get their due, but ... too bad! I say, die you miserable blood suckers, die!

There are many mini-bugs, however, that I can enjoy watching. Take a look at this mini-Mantis to the left, no more than an inch long. To a fellow insect, smaller than he is, I'm sure he's just as terrifying a sight as his big green brothers. I hope he's grabbing a few skeeters for lunch today.

yellow wasp with transparent body
Transparent wasp
Then, there's this little yellow wasp I found on the screen of the bathroom window. So tiny, which doesn't mean he couldn't give you a wallop of a sting. I've had Costa Rican wasps smaller than this put a big hurt on me. Its most interesting facet is that its body is transparent. Look closely.

ugly black fly with red leaves for a tail
Fly from the Pleistocene
That gruesome black fly won't win any beauty contests, unless your thing is flies, I guess. He's half an inch long, and sporting a couple of bright red flaps or "leaves" off its tail end. My wild guess is that they are probably there not for camouflage, but instead for attracting and perhaps interacting with a fly of the opposite sexual persuasion.

black wasps making a nest on a post
If looks could kill, they wouldn't have to sting
Finally, these guys you've seen before, those sinister looking black wasps with their own evil blue-black beauty. They may actually qualify as "big bugs" I suppose. The prospect of being swarmed by these guys when they are not in a good mood, certainly can make them seem bigger than they are.

Every year, a bit before rainy season starts, they send out the "engineers" to scout out a place on the north side of our house for their massive nest, usually on the roof fascia. This year they decided to lower their sights, literally, and make the nest on one of our patio posts. Sorry, guys, but that plan was doomed from the start.

They are docile enough, while they are building their nest. I took that photo standing less than a foot away from them, no worries. Once the nest is done, they guard it ferociously. A fact true of many wasps or bees in Costa Rica. I admit to a good deal of admiration for their skill and dedication. If there is only one survivor, it will continue to work on the nest. My admiration generates some guilt when I have to off them, but it's got to be done. If I could suck them up and relocate them I would. May they enjoy their time in wasp heaven.


  1. I nominated you for a Liebster blog award. I would love if you had time to check it out and join in the fun.

  2. Hi

    very good post with information about bugs of Costa Rica.

  3. Interesting to know about it! Please connect on twitter so we can learn more from each other! @bloggerumer

  4. Brrr... i have a difficult relationship with bugs... and especially big ones :)

    1. Very few are troublesome here and you gradually become fascinated by the very wide variety of species, colors, habits and designs.

  5. Don't worry about that huge "Assassin Bug," that's not a real insect. at first I thought It was just pasted on top of the photo of the forest, but I looked closer and saw it nothing but a model bug, fabricated out of tubes of metal. But there are big bugs that you would see in Costa Rica that are about 5 inches in length.

  6. Of course, the assassin bug was a joke. Stick insects can get to 12 inches long or more.


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