Life In The Jungle: Meet the Local Fauna

Last time I left you when I was telling you about the local climate of the tropical rainforest where I reside. To cap it, it’s hot, humid and sweltering. And it rains almost constantly, hence the name “rainforest” (duh!). I must write this down quickly, as the electric power quite unreliable around here: circuit breakers tripping down every time it drizzles (again, the term “constantly” applies here also) and right now I’m experiencing some light winter showers. You know, the kind that doesn’t flood you (highly unusual here) but completely breaks down your outdoors activity schedule when it comes to raking leaves and chasing away jungle ocelots. Of course, the one outdoors task I just can’t avoid at all is cleaning the rain gutters. For you guys who live in Northerner Latitudes, this is a task you have to do every three months in spring, once a month in Summer and almost every week during Fall; I have to perform this one daily due to the nature of the local trees, lest the gutter get obstructed and I start suffering heavy water damage. (sigh) But I digress; I said I must write down this in a hurry, for I just saw the first flickers that usually precede an oncoming power failure. Today’s blog subject will be the local fauna, which is sometimes quite amazing. There’s the usual assortment of tropical, colorful birds, hummingbirds, electric blue butterflies and, everyday, there’s a huge flog of royal parakeets that passes over my home on the clock at 6 PM, when sunset comes like a ton of bricks: falling over your head fast and unexpectedly. Sundown in the tropics is a matter of seconds. One minute you’re staring at a gorgeous red and orange sunset and then darkness drops on you at an unbelievable rate. Of course, there’s a lot of pretty living things here, like deer, armadillos and ocelots (also known as cunaguaros, which are small leopard-like cats the size of Terrier dogs. I’m lucky that they’re man-shy. But it’s the ugly bugs I’m wanting to talk you about here. They certainly outnumber the neat fauna ten-to-one. Ahem! For starters, we got mosquitoes the size of the Goodyear blimp. Known as the tiger mosquito (Aedes Aegipti), also locally called Patas Blancas for its tale-telling white strips at the tips of its legs, this lovable bug loves to attack every exposed inch of your skin… and sometimes even through two layers of clothing. It’s also known to be the vector of charming diseases like malaria and dengue fever. I insist they are BIG: sometimes I’m wondering if I must setup a landing strip with matching control tower for these things. We also have the chipo, a hymenopter (did I spell that right?) carrier of Chagas’ disease. Stink bugs, fire ants and ants the size of your pinky fingernail, called bachacos. In my daily traipsing through the jungle I’ve met thousands of nasty bugs. A few of them even seem to be unknown to science, I believe. I’m usually a fan of taxonomy, but I’d rather be remembered for being the discoverer of a pretty new hummingbird than for another vicious smelly bug, so I keep my lips shut on them: Stinkbug Starkerensis? Ugh. Uh-oh… lights are flickering again… an electric storm is coming this way. I hope I have enough time to save this post as a word processing fil…

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