Yeah, I have these Black Witch Moths visit my house almost every year and you can see at least 4 others in my Butterfly & Moth Gallery, found alphabetically as “Black Witch Moth.” And I obviously don’t believe the Latin Folklore that the appearance of one means death is coming to that house soon.
This one was on my bathroom wall at the ceiling last night and gone by this morning. To the naked eye it is very dark as this photo on my Canon SLR without a flash shows (only bathroom ceiling light on in the night). In February I shot one on my brown shower curtain with my cell phone and flash and if you go to that link you will see how much more colorful they are with more light or in the gallery there is also one with the Canon using the flash. Big difference! As light always brings!
As one visitor to my house said “I always see something scurrying away when I turn on the light during the night.” Well, living with strange wildlife is not for everyone, but I find it quite interesting and kind of fun when one is named a “Witch!” 🙂 Why, it even calls for a Halloween Cartoon I think:
Because it was a special week, I’m doing a second book on Xandari where I celebrated my birthday last week. It was such a colorful week, I titled it “Brilliant!”Follow the link to a free online preview of the book showing 82 of my photos. Or click this smaller image of the book cover below:
I completed my “Trip Gallery” of the 6 nights at Macaw Lodge, Carara National Park, Costa Rica. It is another fabulous nature retreat in Costa Rica and I hope you check out some of the photos I have posted. You can click the print screen image below or this web address: https://charliedoggett.smugmug.com/TRIPS/2019-06-18-24-Macaw-Lodge
“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels.”
— Ansel Adams
This is not all that I saw! There were really a lot of lizards of all kinds, especially a lot of Common Basilisks, which I never got a good photo of except the one juvenile below without the crown on his head. And as usual a lot more butterflies than I could ever get photos of. Plus my main focus is always birds! 🙂 But here is some “other wildlife”:
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
Brilliant Forest Frog
Juvenile Common Basilisk
Little Yellow Sulphur Butterfly
White Peacock Butterfly
Bloomfield Beauty Butterfly
Walking is my main method of relaxation. I don’t go over my lines or try to solve the world’s problems, I just enjoy the scenery and the wildlife.
I love dragonflies with some of my past favorite nature photos being dragonflies, like the Blue Dasher Dragonfly I photographed at Montgomery Bell State Park in Tennessee that was my most popular photo in 4 years of Arts & Crafts Fairs. 🙂 Who would have thunk? 🙂
See all of my Costa Rica Dragonflies in my CR dragonfly gallery! And I have a long way to go since there are about 270 species of dragonflies in Costa Rica! 🙂 The one above is right here at Macaw Lodge and I’m unable to identify it right now.
“I love to see the sunshine on the wings of the Dragonflies… there is magic in it.”
― Ama H.Vanniarachchy
For anyone considering retirement or otherwise living in Costa Rica, be forewarned that you must learn to live with the 300,000+ species of insects here on this land bridge between North and South America (with insects from both continents!). The featured image at top is of two “Jewel Bugs” or “Metallic Shield Bugs” I photographed in Corcovado National Park. Below photo I made this morning of a “Leafcutter Ant” on my terrace carrying a flower petal (bougainvillea) instead of a piece of leaf, which is common.
Many of the insects that pester me seem to come in waves; like just before rainy season the little long-winged fliers that dropped or left their long beige wings all over my bathroom, or the first two weeks of rain was the invasion of houseflies (which Deep Woods OFF doesn’t seem to affect!), and right now there are hundreds of tiny little black & green beetles on the walls, around the lights and all over me! I even got one going down my ear the other night – ugh! They don’t bite, but a bother! Too small to photograph.
My biggest deterrent to the many kinds of bugs are the Geckos that live in literally every room of my house and I think eat most types of insects. From my first day here I have tried to photograph the larger insects (some are just too tiny) and you can see my collection in the gallery named INSECTS CRunder OTHER WILDLIFE in the main gallery. There are more than 100 species of insects in my gallery and especially interesting or unusual are those in the sub-gallery Other Insects, like the above Jewel Bugs, many of which I have not been able to identify. And all of which serve a purpose in the cycles of life. Of course the most popular sub-gallery is Butterfly & Moth (81+ Species).
A Break From Blogging
For regular readers, I assume you have noticed several days without a post. Sometimes I just doesn’t feel like writing and/or in this case got focused on my old photos again as I am slowly adding them to my galleries, particularly the Pre-Costa Rica TRAVELgalleries. It is a slow and labor-intensive process that eventually I will complete. I uploaded all of my international trips first and now working on USA trips from the most recent going back. Then comes the most, Tennessee travels. And most of these are after my retirement began at the end of 2002. I have been blessed to have seen so much of the world and get to know so many cool people!
Sunday afternoon I was a part of the Board of Directors meeting for the local children’s home, Hogar de Vida. The rest of the board seemed surprised and appreciative that I am the first person to include the children’s home in my will. But I am not a very good board member because I am not fluent in Spanish, in which all business is carried on! 🙂
Otherwise I am “Living Slow” as my sloth T-shirt says!
A fast approach tends to be a superficial one, but when you slow down you begin to engage more deeply with whatever it is you’re doing. You’re also forced to confront what’s happening inside you – which is one of the reasons why I think we find it so hard to slow down. Speed becomes a form of denial. It’s a way of running away from those more deeper, tangled problems. Instead of focusing on questions like who am I, and what is my role here, it all becomes a superficial to-do list.
I finished it last week but was waiting for Blurb to offer one of their discounts before I ordered my copies since I have to buy at least one copy to offer it for sale. That’s business! 🙂 I usually get about 4 copies, sending one to my host lodge/hotel and one to the birding guide I used and I’m saving a copy for some local library here in Atenas but I haven’t found the right one yet. Long story.
By including some photos from my 2016 visit to Monteverde the book has 123 photos on 78 pages with about 45 species of birds plus other animals and nature. I’m pleased with this photo book available in my bookstore at:
I saw one really cool and new-to-me moth at Santa Elena Reserve, two butterflies at Selvatura Park and all the rest were at Monteverde Lodge & Gardens where they have a really nice small butterfly garden indoors. There is one dining table for up to 4 people that can be scheduled for a private Butterfly Dinner! 🙂 Kind of neat! And two of the moths I photographed on my little private room terrace/patio.
Selvatura claims to have the largest butterfly garden in Central America and the huge dome looks like it but this trip it was horrible with only two (2) species of butterflies. There is a Monteverde Butterfly Garden operated by a couple of nature lovers but I did not go this time. Three years ago it was great! There were a lot of butterflies, especially blue morpho, flying around in all four reserves, but difficult to photograph there.
Butterflies & Moths
Blue Morpho at Selvatura
2 Blue Morphos at Lodge (open-wings & closed-wings)
Well, a Black Witch Moth I discovered on the inside of my dark brown shower curtain (thus camouflaged) when I showered late morning after my itchy haircut. In my Butterfly & Moth Gallery (and below) you will see 3 others photographed in other parts of my house earlier. Note that their dark colors make all 4 of them look different in different light. I had to use the flash on my cell phone camera for above shot. Just another one of the colorful surprises almost every day in Costa Rica. 🙂
Other Common Names
In Spanish the name is Mariposa de la Muerte, “Butterfly of Death”
The Mayan people call the moth Mah-Ha-Na, “May I borrow your house?” An allusion to the moths frequently entering people’s houses. 🙂 Like mine!
The Black Witch has a fascinating cultural as well as natural history. Known in Mexicoby the Indians since Aztec times as mariposa de la muerte (butterfly of death). When there is sickness in a house and this moth enters, the sick person dies. (Hoffmann 1918) A variation on this theme heard in the lower Rio Grande Valley (Southmost Texas) is that death only occurs if the moth flies in and visits all four corners of one’s house.
Merlin & Vasquez (2002) point out that the number four is important in Mesoamericabecause of its relationship with the four cardinal directions (east, west, north and south). The moth was known among the Mexicans as Mic Papalotl, the butterfly of death. In Mesoamerica, from the pre hispanic erauntil the present time nocturnal butterflies have been associated with death and the number four.
In some parts of Mexico, people joke that if one flies over someone’s head, the person will lose his hair. Still another myth: seeing one means that someone has put a curse on you!
In Hawaii, Black Witch mythology, though associated with death, has a happier note in that if a loved one has just died, the moth is an embodiment of the person’s soul returning to say goodbye.
One favorite photo from each month of 2018 – And I had trouble picking just one! Thus the header photo above is an extra one from October and the only one here from Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, Piedras Blancas National Park, my #1 lodge this year.
Wow! This was too hard to do! My very best photos were probably all in 3 or 4 months, so I will try something different next year, like maybe my top 5 or so favorite photos. I think I will also try to rank the hotels/lodges/parks I visited this year.
Ranking My Top 7 Lodges in 2018
I rank for all aspects of the lodge for a birder and/or nature lover, not necessarily in this order: number of birds and other wildlife seen, quality of guides, quality of overall service, restfulness of room, quality meals, overall ecology consciousness and sometimes the extra services, depending on the place and situation. My 2018 Top 7 lodges and hotels in order of my preference or enjoyment: