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Tales from the Rainforest

Look, Don't Touch. The Spiny, Bright & Venomous Caterpillars of Peru

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 23, 2015 10:00:00 AM / by Aaron Pomerantz posted in Caterpillars, Insects, Donald Trump

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When you think of a caterpillar, your mind usually turns to an image of a plump little grub-like insect with stubby legs, happily munching away on a leaf. But caterpillars in the jungle don't mess around. Surrounded by predatory spiders, ants, birds and lizards, it's a wonder how any caterpillar reaches its final butterfly or moth form.

While many caterpillars remain remarkably cryptic, blending in with their environment, some take the opposite approach. Evolution has carved out warrior-like caterpillars that don spiny armor plastered in bright warning colors. To pack on an extra punch, many of these caterpillars harbor venom-tipped spines that will leave the attacker, or unfortunate human, with a painful skin rash and in some caseseven death.

I'm always fascinated yet cautious when I encounter these caterpillars in the wild, so here are some of the coolest looking Lepidoptera larvae I've encountered trekking through the Peruvian Amazon.

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Epic Camera Trap Photos From The Peruvian Amazon + Termites Attack!

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 14, 2015 10:00:00 AM / by Jeff Cremer posted in photography, wildlife photography, Amazon, Peru, rainforest, camera trap

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TAMBOPATA, PERU 

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Putting a Foldable Microscope to the Test in the Amazon

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 7, 2015 12:25:00 AM / by Aaron Pomerantz posted in foldscope

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Discovering the Foldscope

A couple of months ago, I received an interesting package in the mail. It looked like a standard manila envelope, but inside was a device that could quite possibly revolutionize the way we view the microscopic world. I’m referring to the Foldscope, an origami-based optical microscope that is small enough to fit inside your pocket. The real kicker: the entire cost of the instrument is less than one dollar.

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Photographing A Harpy Eagle + Canon 800mm f/5.6 lens review and Live View Focusing Technique

[fa icon="calendar'] Jun 18, 2015 12:06:00 AM / by Jeff Cremer posted in wildlife photography

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Harpy Eagles are the AH-64 Apache gunship helicopters of the jungle:
  • Stalking the Shadows - Harpy eagles fly below the canopy in the dense shadowy forest hunting for sloths and monkeys.
  • High Speed Flight - A harpy eagle can reach speeds of over 50mph while attacking prey in a dive.
  • Vertical Flight Capabilities - They have short, broad wings and can fly almost straight up, too, so it can attack prey from below as well as above.
  • Advanced Target Acquisition - A Harpy eagle can turn its head upside down to get a better look at its potential meal. They also have excellent vision and can see something less than 1 inch (2 centimeters) in size from almost 220 yards (200 meters) away.
  • Serious Weapons – Harpy Eagles have huge talons. Their rear talons can reach over 5 inches long – the same size as a grizzly bear’s claws!
  • How rare are harpy eagles? I don't really know but they are pretty damn rare and seeing a chick in the wild is almost impossible.

 

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Bioluminescence in the Peruvian Amazon - Like the Avatar Movie, but in Real Life

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 7, 2015 8:29:00 AM / by Aaron Pomerantz posted in Insects

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If you're familiar with the 2009 science fiction film, Avatar, you may have enjoyed the lush extraterrestrial glowing rainforest. But the glowing rainforest that I experienced was real, and it occurred in the Peruvian Amazon of Tambopata this past March.

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Journey to a Rare Harpy Eagle Nest

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 5, 2015 12:32:00 AM / by Aaron Pomerantz posted in Harpy Eagle

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Timing is everything in the Amazon rainforest. So when Jeff and I heard that there was a harpy eagle nest near the Refugio Amazonas Jungle Lodge, we knew that we had a narrow window of opportunity to see these rare birds caring for their young.

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We found (and yelled at) a crazy tentacled caterpillar

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 4, 2015 8:35:00 AM / by Aaron Pomerantz posted in Caterpillars

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On my recent travels through the Peruvian Amazon, I came upon the craziest caterpillar that I have ever seen, and subsequently yelled at it for hours.  

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Portraits with One of the World’s Deadliest Spiders

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 3, 2015 2:54:00 AM / by Aaron Pomerantz

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As biologists and general biodiversity enthusiasts, coming across something as impressive as a Wandering Spider for the first time was quite an experience. It can be mildly alarming how abundant Wandering Spiders (Phoneutria spp.) are in the lowland Amazon, seemingly perched on every other leaf along the trail.

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Deception in the Jungle: the Ant-mimicking Spider Aphantochilus rogersi

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 27, 2015 12:00:00 AM / by Aaron Pomerantz posted in spider, Amazon

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Things aren't always as they seem in the jungle. As the sun was setting and we were heading back to the Tambopata Research Center, Chris Johns made a very cool spot. At first it appeared as if two ants were stuck together on a branch...but upon closer inspection we realized that we were dealing with an ant-mimicking spider feasting on its ant prey.

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What ecotourism means for indigenous tribes in the Amazon

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 23, 2015 12:00:00 AM / by RainforestExpeditions.com posted in ecotourism

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This article is presented by Peru For Less.

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Wired Amazon in Tambopata Peru

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