Herpin’ for Conservation II



Let’s talk insects

So I found myself in an incredible forest at the foot of Mt. Huraw in northern Samar Island (eastern Philippines). The price of beauty for this rarely seen primary and secondary growth forest in the country was definitely the climate and insects. It was either about 100 degrees with 99% humidity, or about 90 degrees with torrential, down-pouring rain for several days in a row. When it was not raining, the bugs were quite dreadful. Besides your normal mosquitos, this site had plenty of ‘nik niks’, which are like a microscopic super-chigger mini-mosquito, or MSCMMs. These little invertebrates were just about invincible to any bug spray, deet, net or clothing, and would leave itchy-sores all over your body for many days to come. There were also insects known as assassin bugs that would excrete toxins on your skin if disturbed, leaving a chemical burning rash that would scar a few days later. You have to hand it to these critters; they have sure evolved impressive behaviors and defense mechanisms! Worst of all, I managed to get bit by a venomous centipede. OK, OK, yes, I was “possibly” attempting to catch it. The bite set in motion a good amount of excruciating pain for several days. Oh, and did I mention there were leeches too. One time, I awoke in my hammock in the middle of the night to find a leech lodged all the way up one of my nostrils. It took several tugs and a bloody nose to get him out. In the end, the experience was just another part of the amazing adventures I have had as a field biologist.

Continue the adventure in Herpin’ for Conservation III

Missed my earlier blogs?  Start the series here!