The deceptive and tricky Ant-mimicking Crab-spider

There is no doubt that certain species of spiders are quite deceptive and tricky. This is the case of Aphantochilus rogersi (top photo), a neotropical carb-spider in the Thomisidae Family, that convincingly mimics its prey, the turtle ant Cephalotes atratus (middle and bottom photos) or also Zacryptocerus pusillus.

These spiders do not just mimic the appearance of the ant, but also oviposit in close proximity to nests of the model ant. As if that were not enough, Aphantochilus rogersi also has an specialized hunting behavior, this spider uses the bitten and paralyzed ant as a shield, presumably protecting it from attacks by living ants.

So, just in case, the next time you see an ant …. You better count how many legs it has. 

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: [Top: ©Pablo Sebastián Padrón | Locality: Pastaza, Ecuador] - [Middle: ©Ricardo Solar | Locality; unknown]  -  [Bottom: ©Ana Jaramillo | Locality: Riomanso Natural Reserve, Colombia]

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Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer (Chalybura urochrysia) in Costa Rica. by Juan Carlos Vindas on Flickr.

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Emerald Cicada, Zammara smaragdina by Andreas Kay
Via Flickr:
Thanks to ozzicada for ID.

Memphis moruus coerulescens | ©Rodrigo Conte   (Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil)

Memphis moruus (Nymphalidae) is a Neotropical butterfly commonly named Hoja Azul and Mariposa Hojarasca (in Spanish), because the undersides of the wings closely resemble dead leaves. The upper side of the wings are blue with darker spots. 

This butterfly inhabits the Subtropical forests. They are found in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and parts of South America such as Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and Colombia.

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Laughing Falcon - Herpetotheres cachinnans

Herpetotheres cachinnans (Falconiformes - Falconidae) is a Neotropical raptor and the only member of its genus. It occurs in southern Mexico, eastern Bolivia, Brazil, northern Argentina and Paraguay. This species typically has a large creamy yellow or whitish head with black coloring around its large owl-sized eyes creating what looks like a mask. Adults are 40 to 47 cm in length and have wingspans of 25 to 31 cm. Their most distinguishable behavior is the “laughing” call. They call in duets with the opposite sex for several minutes producing loud sounds that resemble laughter, hence their common name.

A common belief, which dates from the 18th century, is that the Laughing Falcon is an ominous bird because of its cry (call), and some Brazilian rural dwellers in Brazil say that when it sings at dusk it is about to take the soul of the ill ones.

Laughing Falcons feed on lizards, birds, insects and rodents, and are considered efficient hunters of both harmless and poisonous snakes.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credits: [Top: ©Marcus Vinicius Lameiras | Locality: captive - São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, 2012] - [Bottom: ©Joao Quental | Locality: not indicated, 2006]

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Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii) by bayucca (busy) on Flickr.

Costa Rica

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Striped Cuckoo - Tapera naevia

Striped cuckoos are neotropical birds scientifically named Tapera naevia (Cuculiformes - Cuculidae), distinguished by a shaggy crest and black streaks along the back. They are found from southern Mexico to southwestern Ecuador, as well as in northern Argentina and southeastern Brazil.

These average sized cuckoos (30 cm in length) are obligate brood parasites, they do not build nests or incubate eggs, and neither males nor females provide parental care to offspring.

Adult females lay their eggs in the nest of another bird species. They lay their eggs just after dawn, and usually choose host species with covered or dome shaped nests. The host species is “tricked” into caring extensively for young that are not its own. Striped cuckoos have more than 20 documented host species. After hatching, young Tapera naevia nestlings remain in the nest for approximately 18 to 20 days, after which they fledge.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credits: [Top: ©Mario Martins | Locality: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2012] - [Bottom: ©Juan Ochoa | Locality: Colombia, 2012]

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