One of the things that I enjoy the most while doing field work in the jungle is to do field work at night. Spiders and many other creatures become more active at night time, therefore to understand patterns of spider web building and prey capture we do a lot of our work after the sunset. In addition to working at night to get the data we need, night time provides a glimpse into the nocturnal wildlife. Believe me, there is nothing quite like walking the trails in the dark jungle with the fluttering moths and flies around our headlamps. This is one of my favourite moments here in the Amazon.
Our group had a night of adventure walking through the dark and muddy trails of Jatun Sacha observing and enjoying the liveness of the jungle. Although we knew (more or less) what was waiting for us on the trails, we were no shy expressing our excitement for the different animals we found. Along our way, we contemplated all sorts of creatures, most of them larger in size than expected or seen by us before, such as this spiny bush cricket of more than 10 cm long or this whip spider, also known as tailless whip scorpion that was the size of Philippe’s hand.
We were also fortunate to discover several small tree frogs in the dark; these animals spend a major portion of its lifespan in trees feeding on insects.
And Tiffany was never scared to grab any amphibian she found along the way, including this big and fat toad who posed with almost everyone for a good picture. As I said, she never doubted in capturing amphibians to look at them closer, the picture on the right shows her manipulating a caecilian, a tropical amphibian that look like a large worm or a slick snake that we found two days earlier at Palenque in the cloud forest.
Beautiful insects such as this dragonfly are very common to observe as well. However, the jungle would not be the jungle without spiders, and we looked at several interesting species waiting in their webs for a prey. For example, these araneas, which build a beautiful orb web.The most amazing spider we found however, is this net-casting spider, which uses a blue/purple web that suspends between the front legs. This spider prey capture strategy is to stretching the net and propel itself onto the prey, entangling it in the web.
Army ants are also common to find in the jungle at day or at night. Here we followed the line of ants to find their nest, a scary hole in the base of a log where all the family reunites; thousand of ants! After a two hour walk and happy for the experience we had, we finish our night and went sleep under our mosquito net beds.