Over 150 years ago, in the steamy jungle of the Amazon Rainforest, the explorer and naturalist Henry Walter Bates was watching two different butterflies fly side-by-side. He had discovered that one was poisonous, which would make any predator sick if it was eaten. He also knew that the other lacked any poison defense.
When you think of the Amazon Rainforest – what do you think of? Usually, the rainforest comes to us in images of color, biodiversity and an exoticness which echoes in our imaginations. We often think of fauna or birds – colorful macaws and mysterious jaguars.
Welcome to the Amazon Rainforest
I've been fortunate this past year to log so much time in the Amazon rainforest. It can be a tough environment for extended trips; it's hot, you're in a perpetual state of sogginess from the humidity and sporadic downpours, and there are bugs constantly attempting to withdraw your blood. With that being said, the Amazon rainforest is also an unbelievably amazing place, as the jungle hosts some of the most incredible views and creatures I've ever laid eyes upon. Below you'll find a selection of my favorite jungle critter encounters from 2015, hope you enjoy!
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.
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.