Feature Workshop

BugShot Ecuador 2022 Highlights

13 July 2022

BugShot Ecuador 2022 was held from 4 to 13 June 2022, brimming with a troupe of naturalists hungry for some macro action after a 2-year hiatus due to the pandemic. All of us immersed ourselves completely in the cool cloud forests and the deepest corners of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Many thanks to Kendra and John Abbott for setting up the trip, Piotr Naskrecki for his inspiration and guidance to everyone, Nancy Miorelli (SciBugs) for fixing up everything and keeping things running, Isaac for taking care of everyone’s chigger bites, Diego Prado for the never-ending enthusiasm when out hunting for bugs with us, all the staff and guides at Waita Lodge for taking care of the party and last but not least, the macro-crazy group who would froth in the mouth at the sight of a rare bug. It really is an amazing gathering of like-minded folks who find it completely normal to stick themselves into the mud while basking in a cloud of mosquitoes for the perfect bug shot.

To view all species that I’ve documented during this trip, visit BugShot Ecuador 2022 Checklist.

BugShot Ecuador 2022 - IMG_20220611_124439x

BugShot Ecuador 2022 Participants and Instructors with the Staff of Waita Lodge

About BugShot

BugShot is a series of macro photography workshops initiated by Alex Wild. It caters to beginners and experienced macro photographers alike and is led by a team of top macro photographers in profoundly biodiverse locations around the world to… photograph bugs. Some of the past workshops were held in Belize, Mozambique, Peru and several locations in the USA. Find out more at BugShot.net.

Guango Lodge

Hummingbirds of Guango Lodge - IMG_20220605_112557_edit_17668231382947x We spent out first day in Guango Lodge, situated in the paramo (the ecosystem of the regions above the continuous forest line but below the permanent snowline) of Papallacta, about an hour’s drive to the West from Quito. Many of us spent time with the hummingbirds while the rest checked out the amazing diversity of leafhoppers right in front of the lodge.

Find out more at GuangoLodge.com.

Waita Lodge

Waita Lodge - IMG_20220609_054818x Nestled in the North-Eastern end of Ecuador and close to the borders with Colombia and Peru, Waita Lodge is the only community-based Amazon lodge in the Cuyabeno Reserve. This means that the lodge is built and run by the members of the local community and the motor boats used by the lodge are rented from the community. This offers a sustainable alternative to working in the oil fields.

The core of BugShot was held at Waita Lodge. We enjoyed daily wildlife boat rides before breakfast and had macro field trips and lectures throughout the day culminating with night walks until we had no energy left. Its impressive biodiversity kept us busy throughout the week!

Find out more at WaitaLodge.com.

Bellavista Lodge

Bellavista Lodge entrance rooms - IMG_20220613_150722 Bella Vista means “beautiful sight” in Spanish and Italian. At just a 2-hour drive to the East from Quito, Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge is a private protected area in the cloud forests of the Tandayapa Valley. It boasts a spectacular diversity of harvestmen, birds, beetles and moths and I’ve clocked over 300 observations on iNaturalist from just 2 nights and 1 day of exploring.

Find out more at BellavistaCloudForest.com.

    Treehopper (Ennya sobria) - P6057241
  1. Treehopper (Ennya sobria)

    We were greeted by lots of treehoppers at the entrance of Guango Lodge and got started right away. I managed to document the adults, nymphs, mating pairs, and mothers guarding their eggs and young, but my favourite was this shot of a young one reaching adulthood and with its wings just pumped out.

  2. Treehopper (Heranice sp.) - P6067648
  3. Treehjopper (Heranice sp.)

    This is probably the most captivating treehopper that I saw at Guango, found near the ground at the side of the trail. Jen found a spectacular treehopper right in front of the lodge that I wish I had the chance to photograph!

  4. Tortoise beetle (Cassidini) - P6067305
  5. Tortoise beetle (Cassidini)

    Also just down from the lodge, we saw a beautiful golden tortoise beetle with a dent on its elytra. Look closer and you’ll see a clutch of eggs in the dent!

  6. Sheet weaver spider (Linyphiidae) - P6067572
  7. Sheet weaver spider (Linyphiidae)

    The most interesting spider that I shot at Guango had to be this male linyphiid with a bizarre eye arrangement where its posterior eyes stood on individual humps.

  8. Leaf beetle (Lactina sp.) - P6067458
    Leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae) - P6067778
    Leaf beetle (Asphaera sp.) - P6067429
    Leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae) - P6067623
    Leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae) - P6057254
    Leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae) - P6067815
  9. Leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae spp.)

    There was a good diversity of leaf beetles in the area, so here’s a little glimpse.

  10. Leafhopper (Cicadellidae) - P6067789
    Leafhopper (Cicadellidae) - P6067834
    Leafhopper (Cicadellidae) - P6067325
    Leafhopper (Cicadellidae) - P6067380
    Leafhopper (Cicadellidae) - P6067794
    Leafhopper (Cicadellidae) - P6067320
  11. Leafhoppers (Cicadellidae spp.)

    The area in front of the hummingbird observatory was also brimming with leafhoppers, but they were super skittish. Most would jump before we even approached with a camera. Here’s a small selection.

  12. Hoverfly (Toxomerus sp.) - P6067738
  13. Hoverfly (Toxomerus sp.)

    Plain subject, but a very cooperative pair!

  14. Ladybird beetle (Neda sp.) - P6067514
  15. Ladybird beetle (Neda sp.)

    This was the only ladybird beetle that I saw at Guango. I had several more documented at Bellavista.

  16. Chestnut-breasted Coronet (Boissonneaua matthewsii) - P1010072
    Collared Inca (Coeligena torquata) - P1010142
    Buff-tailed Coronet (Boissonneaua flavescens) - P1010116
    Long-tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus kingii) - P1010154
  17. Hummingbirds (Trochilidae spp.)

    In all of the past BugShots, I’ve chosen to ignore the birds. But this round, I brought along a long lens to get some documentation shots since “I’m already there”. Here are some casual shots from around the lodge. Completely new to this so I fumbled a bit with the camera settings for a bit. Spent about half an hour looking at these fluttering jewels before running off towards the bugs. 😉

  18. Thorn orb weaver (Micrathena rubicundula) - P6067612
    Thorn orb weaver (Micrathena pupa) - P6067348
  19. Thorn orb weaver (Micrathena spp.)

    Ever since my expedition to Peru in 2015, I’ve kept a checklist of all Micrathena that I’ve encountered in the Neotropics. Glad to have added 2 more species from Guango!

  20. Flight from Quito to Coca - IMG_20220606_074733x
    Flight from Quito to Coca - IMG_20220606_095826x
    Arrival at Coca - IMG_20220606_102742
  21. Onward to the Amazon

    From Quito, we met up with Diego and flew to Coca where we would embark on a 2.5-hour canoe ride down the Amazon river to Cuyabeno.

  22. Grilled palm weevil larvae - IMG_20220606_105824
    Grilled palm weevil larvae - IMG_20220606_105652
    Grilled palm weevil larvae and tapioca - IMG_20220606_110046x
  23. Palm weevil larvae (Rhynchophorus palmarum)

    At Coca, we dropped by the local market for some grilled palm weevil larvae (Chontacuros) with tapioca. It tasted nutty and the heads were crunchy. Chontacuros are a common snack with the indigenous people of Ecuador. The name is from the Kitchwa words “curo” which means worm and “chonta” which is the name of the palm tree where these larvae are found. After the snack, I had a cup of chicha de chonta, also known as fermented chonta palm beer. 🙂

  24. River ride from Coca to Waita Lodge - IMG_20220606_144349
    River ride from Coca to Waita Lodge - IMG_20220606_171034
    Arrival at Waita Lodge - IMG_20220606_173913
  25. Canoe ride to Waita Lodge

    We were separated from our bags and took 2 canoes to travel down to Waita Lodge. We were exposed to the elements throughout the ride but were eagerly looking around for any traces of wildlife. On arrival, we settled down, had dinner and got ready for the first night hike!

  26. Tailless whip scorpion (Heterophrynus sp.) - P6078083
  27. Tailless whip scorpion (Heterophrynus sp.)

    Commonly seen on tree trunks, but Heterophrynus is such an imposing figure on tree trunks that we had to take lots of close ups.

  28. White flat-backed millipede (Polydesmida) - P6078117
  29. White flat-backed millipede (Polydesmida)

    We found several of these giant flat-backed millipedes, especially after the rain. I’m calling this the spineless vertebrae.

  30. Velvet worm (Oroperipatus sp.) - P6078143
  31. Velvet worm (Oroperipatus sp.)

    We really wanted to see a velvet worm on this trip and was lucky to be rewarded with one sighting!

  32. Orb weaver spider (Parawixia sp.) - P6078225
  33. Orb weaver spider (Parawixia sp.)

    This beautiful green Parawixia was one of the highlights of my trip to Peru in 2015, and it even got printed on my luggage cover. When I called for the others, I just had to say “IT’S THE SPIDER ON MY LUGGAGE!!”.

  34. Orb weaver spider (Xylethrus superbus) - P6078374
  35. Orb weaver spider (Xylethrus superbus)

    Diego found one of the most stunning spiders of this trip. The wart-like texture on the abdomen of Xylethrus superbus is littered with red-ringed muscular depressions that looked like the eye of sauron, fringed with numerous tubercles in all directions, with the longest one extending posteriorly like a tail. It also fluoresces brightly under UV and looks magnificent from all angles.

  36. Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria fera) - P6078308
  37. Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria fera)

    We found a huge Brazilian wandering spider behind our rooms, so the only logical thing was to take a selfie with it. They may be known to be the most venomous spiders on the planet, but are actually very docile. Appropriate precautions were taken when taking this spiderfie.

  38. Milky Way at Waita Lodge - DSC_2916
  39. Milkyway at Waita Lodge

    To end the first night, I took a few shots of the night sky with the milkyway rising above our cabins.

  40. Long-snout weevil (Sicoderus sp.) - P6078397
  41. Long-snout weevil (Sicoderus sp.)

    On the second day in the Amazon, we had a good start to the day with an incredibly long-snouted weevil hanging out on my boot.

  42. Leafhopper nymph (Diestostemma sp.) - P6078509
  43. Leafhopper nymph (Diestostemma sp.)

    Close to the start of the trail, we found this peculiar leafhopper nymph. It loses its extended “snout” when it turns into an adult.

  44. Fishing spider (Thaumasia sp.) - P6078492
  45. Fishing spider (Thaumasia sp.)

    There was also an abundance of fishing spiders along the flooded trails.

  46. Flooded trails at Waita lodge - IMG_20220607_095534x
  47. Flooded Trails

    Did I mention flooded trails? During periods of high rainfall, the river’s water level rises and the trails get flooded. Interesting subjects from the ground could then be sighted in the foliage.

  48. Fishing spider (Thaumasia sp.) - P6078576
  49. Fishing spider (Thaumasia sp.)

    An adult male fishing spider on the water surface. Note the reflection of its palps.

  50. Long-legged water spider (Syntrechalea sp.) - P6078613
  51. Long-legged water spider (Syntrechalea sp.)

    Typically found on tree trunks and well camouflaged, there were several Syntrechalea along the trails.

  52. Nursery web spider (Architis sp.) - P6078699
  53. Nursery web spider (Architis sp.)

    A small but stunning pisaurid carrying an egg sac.

  54. Mosquito (Aedini) - P6078553
  55. Mosquito (Aedini)

    Some of the trails had lots of mosquitoes. This, unfortunately, has my blood.

  56. Thorn orb weaver (Micrathena plana) - P6078727
  57. Thorn orb weaver (Micrathena plana)

    While I was looking forward to extending my Micrathena checklist, I was really looking forward to see Micrathena cyanospinosa which is arguably the Macracantha arcuata of the neotropics. I didn’t have enough luck for that but managed to snag almost 10 species on this trip. Always happy to document them on their web!

  58. Leafhopper (Proconia sp.) - P6078564
  59. Leafhopper (Proconia sp.)

    Towards the end of the trail, we spotted a large and colourful Proconia, but at a precarious position where we had to stretch out while stepping at the edge of an underwater log.

  60. Golden tortoise beetle (Hybosa sp.) - P6088927
  61. Golden tortoise beetle (Hybosa sp.)

    Dennis showed me this brilliant golden tortoise beetle and it took flight several times, while always landing at a spot close by. I also used this shot as the main photo for my lecture on lighting and diffusion a few minutes after taking the shot.

  62. Harvestman (Phareicranaus sp.) - P6089106
  63. Harvestman (Phareicranaus sp.)

    We went on a night hike across the river and were greeted by this impressive harvestmen with octopus-like rings on its body.

  64. Treehopper (Membracis tectigera) - P6088979
  65. Treehopper (Membracis cf. tectigera)

    Outside the trail, we also saw several of these obnoxiously helmeted treehoppers.

  66. Ecuadorian brown velvet tarantula (Megaphobema velvetosoma) - P6089326
  67. Ecuadorian brown velvet tarantula (Megaphobema velvetosoma)

    Within a hundred metres, this large tarantula was spotted. Many took shots from typical angles, so I chose a wide-angle shot to highlight the spinnerets.

  68. Lynx spider (Tapinillus longipes) - P6089125
  69. Lynx spider (Tapinillus longipes)

    This genus of oxyopids is new to me. It has a unique eye arrangement which is very different from what we see in Asia.

  70. Tailless whip scorpion (Heterophrynus sp.) - P6089381
  71. Tailless whip scorpion (Heterophrynus sp.)

    Further into the trail, we could hear Diego screaming “MY FAVOURITE!!”. I spent quite some time with this Heterophrynus carrying a large brood of babies. Looked like a plate of white pasta. Max mentioned that this looked like Marge Simpson… does it??

  72. Huntsman spider (Sadala sp.) - P6089467
  73. Huntsman spider (Sadala sp.)

    I missed the opportunity to get portraits of Sadala during my previous trip to the neotropics, so I was really pleased to encounter some of them this time.

  74. Orb weaver spider (Alpaida bicornuta) - P6089025
  75. Orb weaver spider (Alpaida bicornuta)

    Spiders of the genus Alpaida tend to be colourful. I’m really glad to document two species of Alpaida from this trip.

  76. Ogre-face spider (Deinopis sp.) - P6089288
  77. Ogre-face spider (Deinopis sp.)

    We spotted this net-casting spider down the trail, but it wasn’t with its net yet. Still too early?

  78. Giant turtle ant (Cephalotes atratus) - P6078653
  79. Giant turtle ant (Cephalotes atratus)

    There were a few giant turtle ants on the trees, much larger than those that I had encountered in Belize.

  80. Dead leaf mantis (Acanthops sp.) - P6089474
  81. Dead leaf mantis (Acanthops sp.)

    The find of the night belonged to this cryptic dead leaf mantis in its naturally camouflaged position. Jen exclaimed that this was the coolest mantis that she had ever seen, and many of us agree!

  82. Velvet ant (Hoplomutilla sp.) - P6089525
  83. Velvet ant (Hoplomutilla sp.)

    Velvet ants are known for their painful sting. This was running about so we had to be really careful with where it ended up.

  84. Ant (Daceton armigerum) - P6088856
  85. Ant (Daceton armigerum)

    Undoubtedly my favourite ant from this trip with a magnificently shaped head.

  86. Spiny katydid (Championica pilata) - P6089684
  87. Spiny katydid (Championica pilata)

    Piotr found this majestic spiny katydid while we were heading back.

  88. Neotropical stick grasshopper (Apioscelis bulbosa) - P6089579
  89. Neotropical stick grasshopper (Apioscelis bulbosa)

    I’ve always wanted to see these jumping sticks and was thrilled to find one to be my final subject of the night. As always, pulling a long face.

  90. Morning boat ride - IMG_20220608_084514
  91. Morning boat ride

    I finally decided to join the 6am boat ride since “I’m already here”. It was really peaceful and interesting, but I had my lens and viewfinder fogged up for a good part of the ride. Noob mistake!

  92. Miller's Saki Monkey (Pithecia milleri) - P1010401
  93. Miller's Saki Monkey (Pithecia milleri)

    This pair of Miller’s Saki Monkeys sharing a meal.

  94. Proboscis bat (Rhynchonycteris naso) - P1010643
  95. Proboscis bat (Rhynchonycteris naso)

    There were several sightings of proboscis bats resting on dead branches along the river.

  96. Pleasing fungus beetle (Erotylus sp.) - P6100002
  97. Pleasing fungus beetle (Erotylus sp.)

    The morning field trip was uneventful. We found lots of subjects but nothing exceptional until we spotted this Erotylus that looked like a kid had scribbled its elytra with crayons. It managed to get Steve coming back into the trail while he was on his way back to his room!

  98. Muddy tracks - IMG_20220608_142321
  99. Muddy boots

    The trails were just a wee bit muddy.

  100. Broad-headed woodlizard (Enyalioides laticeps) - P6100150
  101. Broad-headed woodlizard (Enyalioides laticeps)

    During the night walk, we saw several frogs and this lizard. It was difficult to light up large subjects with a macro setup, so this was lighted with an off-camera flash and diffused with a softbox.

  102. Thick-tailed scorpion (Tityus sp.) - P6100196
  103. Thick-tailed scorpion (Tityus sp.)

    I found that the Olympus body wasn’t capturing UV fluorescence well with long exposures, so this partial UV fluorescence was attempted handheld.

  104. Barred monkey frog (Callimedusa tomopterna) - P6100335
  105. Barred monkey frog (Callimedusa tomopterna)

    This barred monkey frog was in a very nice position when we first spotted it, but had already jumped when it was my turn. Still a beautiful frog nonetheless!

  106. Monkey grasshopper (Eumastax sp.) - P6100364
  107. Monkey grasshopper (Eumastax sp.)

    These monkey grasshoppers were abundant around Waita Lodge. A wide-angle shot of a mating pair of this colourful species had always been on my wish list and the walk ended on a high with this last subject of the night!

  108. River ride to clay lick with Diego Prado - Q6090549
  109. Cuyabeno river ride to clay lick

    In the morning, we took a little trip to a clay lick to wait for some parrots.

  110. Cuyabeno river ride to clay lick - IMG_20220609_080727
  111. Waiting at clay lick

    We parked our canoes together on the other side of the river. The clay lick was unfortunately much smaller than the one that we saw in Peru but that also allowed us to get much closer and capture some decent shots.

  112. Orange-cheeked parrots (Pyrilia barrabandi) - Q6090731
  113. Orange-cheeked parrots (Pyrilia barrabandi)

    These were the only parrots at the clay lick, so we slowly inched closer to get some shots.

  114. Black-headed parrot (Pionites melanocephalus) - Q6090415
  115. Black-headed parrot (Pionites melanocephalus)

    High up near the canopy, we saw this black-headed parrot next to an orb web which probably belonged to a tetragnathid.

  116. Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) - Q6090152
  117. Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis)

    99% of our dolphin shot attempts were of Amazonian water ripples. I was lucky to get a shot of 2 individuals at the surface of the water, albeit for just a split second.

  118. Harvestman (Sibambea sp.) - P6100474
  119. Harvestman (Sibambea sp.)

    In the afternoon, we visited the trail across the river where we found this really derpy looking harvestman.

  120. Target tortoise beetle (Plagiometriona phoebe) - P6100575
  121. Target tortoise beetle (Plagiometriona phoebe)

    Glad to also add another entry to my tortoise beetle checklist!

  122. Lantern bugs (Scaralis sp.) - P6100732
  123. Lantern bugs (Scaralis sp.)

    We found the fabled mosquito tree which had at least 3 different species of fulgorids. Photographing at the tree guaranteed some lantern bug pee on our heads as there were lots of them up on the tree.

  124. Lantern bug (Scaralis sp.) - P6100851
  125. Lantern bug (Scaralis sp.)

    One of the species was much smaller, as seen hiding beneath the larger species.

  126. Bullet ant (Paraponera clavata) - P6100782
  127. Bullet ant (Paraponera clavata)

    I wasn’t too careful and had a bullet ant climbing up to my lens while I was taking some wide angle shots.

  128. Jumping ant (Gigantiops destructor) - P6100884
  129. Jumping ant (Gigantiops destructor)

    Also on the same tree, Piotr pointed out this large-eyed jumping ant.

  130. Mosquito (Culicinae) - P6090438
  131. Mosquito (Culicinae)

    The tree was called a mosquito tree because… well, mosquitoes. At least some of them looked interesting!

  132. Soldier fly (Cyphomyia sp.) - P6100900
  133. Soldier fly (Cyphomyia sp.)

    Yes we stayed at the tree for over an hour. This yellow-headed soldier fly was buzzing around us while we got busy.

  134. Daddy-long-legs spider (Pholcidae) - P6099765x
  135. Daddy-long-legs spider (Pholcidae)

    Some of these pholcids resembled harvestmen, which is also why they share the same common name “daddy-long-legs”. This is an adult male.

  136. Orb weaver spider (Wagneriana sp.) - P6100629
  137. Orb weaver spider (Wagneriana sp.)

    We seldom see male araneids on their webs, so this male Wagneriana was a treat, and with a prey!

  138. Headstand Katydid (Pterochrozinae) - P6100959
  139. Headstand Katydid (Pterochrozinae)

    I’m calling this the headstand katydid. Yup.

  140. Crab spider (Epicadus dimidiaster) - P6100979
  141. Crab spider (Epicadus dimidiaster)

    One of my main targets for any trip to the neotropics would be the flamboyant species of Epicadus. I did find 2 or 3 species, but not those with huge tubercles. Diego was pretty excited to find this for me though!

  142. Crab spider (Epicadus sp.) - P6101057
  143. Crab spider (Epicadus dimidiaster)

    This was a much smaller Epicadus but still a beautiful specimen.

  144. Crab spider (Onocolus sp.) - P6101078
  145. Crab spider (Onocolus sp.)

    Merav spotted this well-camouflaged crab spider with her UV light. It had a very bright fluorescence!

  146. Thorn orb weaver (Micrathena coca) - P6101214
  147. Thorn orb weaver (Micrathena coca)

    My favorite Micrathena from this trip had to be Micrathena coca!

  148. Planthopper nymph (Lophopidae) - P6101196
  149. Planthopper nymph (Lophopidae)

    Found this odd-looking lophopid nymph with an exceptionally large pair of forelegs.

  150. Stinky bird (Opisthocomus hoazin) - P6100826
  151. Stinky bird (Opisthocomus hoazin)

    In the next morning, I managed some simple shots of the stinky birds. It supposedly gives off a foul smell due to the fermentation of food in its digestive system.

  152. Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis) - P6100983
  153. Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis)

    With the help of our guides, we also managed to photograph a Great Potoo! It is nocturnal and really well camouflaged when resting in the day.

  154. Many-banded Aracari (Pteroglossus pluricinctus) - P6101003
    White-throated Toucan (Ramphastos tucanus) - P6101203
    Ivory-billed Aracari (Pteroglossus azara) - P6101025
  155. Toucans (Ramphastidae spp.)

    I’m not into birds but the toucans were really colourful. Here are some record shots of our sightings from a distance.

  156. Humbolt's Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri cassiquiarensis) - Q6101449
    Humbolt's Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri cassiquiarensis) - Q6101452
    Humbolt's Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri cassiquiarensis) - Q6101453
    Humbolt's Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri cassiquiarensis) - Q6101454
  157. Humbolt's Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri cassiquiarensis)

    I took some shots of the squirrel monkeys, and only found this sequence of one snagging an orb weaver spider for a snack only during post-processing!

  158. Treehopper (Membracis sp.) - P6101291
  159. Treehopper (Membracis sp.)

    We visited the trail across the river again, and were lucky to see many of the membracids emerging as adults.

  160. Spitting spider (Scytodidae) - P6101385
  161. Spitting spider (Scytodidae)

    Several spitting spiders were sighted, but this female carrying her eggs was the most photogenic.

  162. Jumping spider (Amycus sp.) - P6101355
  163. Jumping spider (Amycus sp.)

    Piotr shared this mature male Amycus that had just captured a tetragnathid!

  164. Jaguar paw prints - IMG_20220610_105013
  165. Jaguar paw prints

    Everyone was photographing the mud relentlessly. Turned out to be fresh tracks of a jaguar! No we didn’t see one.

  166. Lantern bug (Enchophora sp.) - P6101477
  167. Lantern bug (Enchophora sp.)

    We found the second mosquito tree with another 3 species of fulgorids!

  168. Pleasing fungus beetle (Erotylus sp.) - P6101509
  169. Pleasing fungus beetle (Erotylus sp.)

    Most of the erotylids were really pretty, but this one didn’t stay for long…

  170. Non-biting midge (Chironomus sp.) - P6111596
  171. Non-biting midge (Chironomus sp.)

    Close up of a non-biting midge and its fluffy antennae.

  172. Lynx spider (Hamataliwa sp.) - P6111557
  173. Lynx spider (Hamataliwa sp.)

    A really tiny oxyopid with what looked like her egg sac.

  174. Toe-winged beetle (Ptilodactylidae) - P6111638
  175. Toe-winged beetle (Ptilodactylidae)

    This ptilodactylid was really unique and most likely new to science.

  176. Katydids (Pseudophyllinae) - P6111729
  177. Katydids (Pseudophyllinae)

    The sky was threatening to rain again in the afternoon, but I did a short hike with some of the other participants and Merav spotted this trio of well-camouflaged katydids.

  178. Bird observation tower - IMG_20220610_172948x
  179. Bird observation tower

    In the evening, the sky cleared and we were able to visit the bird observation tower built by the community.

  180. At the top of the bird observation tower - IMG_20220610_174825x
  181. Top of the bird observation tower

    The tower is built around a Ceibo tree but swayed precariously when we climbed up. It took us a while to get used to moving about on the platform without shaking it too much.

  182. Sunset at Bird Tower - IMG_20220610_175515x
  183. Sunset at bird observation tower

    We waited til the sun set. The top of the photo shows some abandoned nests on the Ceibo tree.

  184. Spiny pleasing fungus beetle (Ellipticus spinifer) - P6121887
  185. Spiny pleasing fungus beetle (Ellipticus spinifer)

    On our final full day at Waita Lodge, we revisited the trail across the river again (it does not have a name, hence the long reference) and found this exceptional fungus beetle. The spine is actually split between its elytra and fits perfectly together when closed.

  186. Lantern bug (Lystra pulverulenta) - P6121852
  187. Lantern bug (Lystra pulverulenta)

    I went back to the mosquito tree again, hoping to get better shots of the fulgorids that were higher up but didn’t have much luck. There was another green species at a much greater height.

  188. Flooded trails - IMG_20220611_140742
  189. Flooded trails

    With the rain, most of the trails had higher water levels.

  190. Conehead katydid (Copiphorini) - P6121986
  191. Conehead katydid (Copiphorini)

    Peekaboo shots of a conehead katydid.

  192. Fungus-farming ant (Apterostigma sp.) - P6122025
  193. Fungus-farming ant (Apterostigma sp.)

    First time seeing a fungus-farming ant colony. They are really oddly-shaped!

  194. Crab spider (Epicadus trituberculatus) - P6122131
  195. Crab spider (Epicadus trituberculatus)

    Don found another Epicadus outside the trail. Interestingly, its posterior had several black tubercles that looked like pseudo-eyes!

  196. Polka-dot orb weaver (Ocrepeira albopunctata) - P6121796
  197. Polka-dot orb weaver (Ocrepeira albopunctata)

    The rain returned in the afternoon, so I just poked around behind the rooms and found this brilliantly spotted orb weaver!

  198. Jason and Steve photographing army ants - IMG_20220611_163532
  199. Photographing army ants

    Jason and Steve were photographing the army ants next to the generator.

  200. Army ants (Labidus spininodis) - P6122266
  201. Army ants (Labidus spininodis)

    Poor quality but interesting scene of the trail of army ants.

  202. Broad-headed tree frog (Osteocephalus sp.) - P6122304
  203. Broad-headed tree frog (Osteocephalus sp.)

    Dennis was photographing some frogs next to the army ants and I sneaked in some shots.

  204. FaceBug by SciBugs - IMG_20220611_104201
  205. FaceBug by SciBugs

    Someone brought a large beetle to the lecture area and Nancy couldn’t resist doing a FaceBug shot.

  206. Histacalm, magic lotion for chigger bites - IMG_20220611_161630x
  207. Histacalm

    Magic lotion for chigger bites.

  208. Cake for all! - IMG_20220611_193058x
  209. Farewell Cake

    The chefs prepared a cake for us on our final night at the lodge and decorated our plates.

  210. Molly in the rain with Diego - IMG_20220611_214414
  211. Hike in the rain

    The rain persisted throughout the day and into the night, but we couldn’t wait any longer and decided to go hiking in the rain. All of us had glowing tummies.

  212. Dead leaf katydid (Typophyllum sp.) - P6122555
  213. Dead leaf katydid (Typophyllum sp.)

    Diego found another species of Typophyllum, but it was really challenging to do back-lighting while covering the camera, holding the poncho, and positioning the flash for this shot.

  214. Katydid nymph (Pterochroza ocellata) - P6122642
  215. Peacock katydid nymph (Pterochroza ocellata)

    I also managed some record shots of a peacock katydid nymph. On our first night, Piotr saw an adult behind our rooms but it simply disappeared in front of our eyes. For such a large katydid to disappear like that, it was, in Piotr’s words, “unbelievable”.

  216. Wandering spider (Ctenidae) - P6122571
  217. Wandering spider (Ctenidae)

    Some shots appear washed out due to the rain and fogging of the lens.

  218. Unknown spider - P6122542
  219. Unknown spider

    One of the weirdest eye arrangements from this trip. Anyone familiar with this?

  220. Cuyabeno Black River Ride - IMG_20220612_101442
  221. Cuyabeno Black River Ride

    On the final morning at Waita Lodge, we had an extended boat ride on the black river and took several “shortcuts” through places that were only accessible when flooded.

  222. Red Howler Monkey (Alouatta seniculus) - P6121937
  223. Red Howler Monkey (Alouatta seniculus)

    The red howler monkeys looked a little grumpy from the rain.

  224. Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus) - P6122235
  225. Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus)

    The morning’s highlight had to be this three-toed sloth!

  226. Leaving Waita Lodge - IMG_20220612_091325
  227. Leaving Waita Lodge

    We were soon all packed and leaving Waita Lodge. A mystery person kindly paid for all of our alcoholic beverages. We all have an idea who did it but since anonymity was requested, thanks mystery bugshotter!

  228. Jen and Tom Extending Their Stay at Waita Lodge - IMG_20220612_133709
  229. Jen and Tom

    We left Jen and Tom behind at Waita Lodge as they were extending their stay there. Jen managed to get close to many birds and other mammals when the crowd was gone, made us envious!

  230. Puppy at Coca - IMG_20220612_170432
  231. Puppy!

    After disembarking from our canoes, everyone rushed to the toilets while this puppy came to check us out.

  232. Road maintenance stopped due to country-wide strike - IMG_20220613_075442
  233. Road maintenance

    We spent the night at Coca and flew back to Quito in the next morning. A country-wide strike had started and the incomplete road works were just the start of a lengthy strike.

  234. Bellavista Lodge entrance rooms - IMG_20220613_150722
  235. Bellavista Lodge

    Many of us split into groups from Quito and a small group of us were back in the cloud forests, but this time at Bellavista Lodge. As we didn’t have any lectures nor rain this time, the short stay here was a lot more productive!

  236. Moss mantis (Pseudopogonogaster mirabilis) - IMG_20220613_164636
  237. Moss mantis (Pseudopogonogaster mirabilis)

    Just next to the rooms, Merav spotted a very well-hidden moss mantis. Can you see it?

  238. Moss mantis (Pseudopogonogaster mirabilis) - P6142792
  239. Moss mantis (Pseudopogonogaster mirabilis)

    Close up of the moss mantis.

  240. Moss stick insect (Parobrimus monstrosus) - P6142773
  241. Moss stick insect (Parobrimus monstrosus)

    Just below the mantis was a mossy walking stick.

  242. Trail guide posts - IMG_20220614_142549
  243. Bellavista Trails

    The trails at Bellavista Lodge are well marked, with indicators of its difficulty as well.

  244. Moss millipede (Polydesmida) - P6142947
  245. Moss millipede (Polydesmida)

    The trails at Bellavista had many mossy creatures. It was cool that this was our first time seeing a mossy millipede.

  246. Leaf beetle (Aspicela bourcieri) - P6142728
  247. Leaf beetle (Aspicela bourcieri)

    This stunning leaf beetle was in abundance near the entrance of the lodge, but is really skittish.

  248. Harvestman (Clinocippus albater) - P6143669
    Harvestman (Cranaidae) - P6143455
    Harvestman (Opiliones) - P6143069
    Harvestman (Opiliones) - P6143044b
    Harvestman (Opiliones) - P6143332b
    Harvestman (Cranaidae) - P6143495
  249. Harvestmen (Opiliones spp.)

    The highlight at Bellavista Lodge had to be the harvestmen. We found many along the first 400m of the first trail and here’s a small collection.

  250. Moss katydid (Tettigoniidae) - P6143513
  251. Moss katydid (Tettigoniidae)

    The mossy katydids that we saw were fascinating too.

  252. Hairy cicada (Cicadidae) - P6143415
  253. Hairy cicada (Cicadidae)

    This looked like a plain cicada at first, but look at the hairs!

  254. Stick insect (Phasmida) - P6143551
  255. Stick insect (Phasmida)

    More mossy walking sticks. There were lots of them!

  256. Pinnochio rainfrog (Pristimantis appendiculatus) - P6143362
  257. Pinnochio rainfrog (Pristimantis appendiculatus)

    Merav also spotted this beautiful Pinnochio rainfrog.

  258. Royal moth (Bathyphlebia rufescens) - P6143749s
    Buck and lo moth (Cerodirphia mota) - P6143759s
    Flannel moth (Wittinia cremor) - P6154640s
    Moth (Pityeja histrionaria) - P6154661
    Lappet moth (Tolype sp.) - P6154653
    Panther moth (Pantherodes conglomerata) - P6154670
    Moth (Macara alydda) - P6155106
    Tiger moth (Gymnelia nomia) - P6154689
    Carpet moth (Eois sp.) - P6155135
    Prominent moth (Tecmessa bratteata) - P6154586
    Tiger moth (Praeamastus roseicorpus) - P6154605
    Concealer moth (Lethata sp.) - P6154596
    Cutworm moth (Perigea ignitincta) - P6154577s
  259. Moths (Lepidoptera spp.)

    Dennis arranged for some of the staff to set up a light trap in front of my room. Here’s a small selection of what we saw.

  260. Emerald moths (Geometrinae spp.) - P6155128
  261. Emerald moths (Geometrinae spp.)

    I also managed to document an awesome congregation of geometrids on a leaf well after everyone went to bed.

  262. Blue tarantula (Pamphobeteus sp.) - P6154864
  263. Blue tarantula (Pamphobeteus sp.)

    Along the steps of Trail C, this juvenile blue tarantula was posing nicely for us.

  264. Ghost sac spider (Anyphaenidae) - P6154851
  265. Ghost sac spider (Anyphaenidae)

    Lots of anyphaenids were found, but this had exceptionally large jaws.

  266. Moss stick insect (Xerosomatini) - P6154996
  267. Moss stick insect (Xerosomatini)

    Portrait of one of the many walking stick insects.

  268. Weevil (Exorides sp.) - P6155028
  269. Weevil (Exorides sp.)

    This green weevil has some blue and cyan iridescence on its body!

  270. Shag carpet caterpillar (Prothysana felderi) - P6143907
  271. Shag carpet caterpillar (Prothysana felderi)

    In the morning, Merav spotted this fluffy, feathery caterpillar.

  272. Firefly beetle (Magnoculus sp.) - P6154449
  273. Firefly beetle (Magnoculus sp.)

    We saw a few of these firefly beetles with fanned antennae.

  274. Jumping spider (Lyssomanes sp.) - P6154519
  275. Jumping spider (Lyssomanes sp.)

    There were many sightings of this Lyssomanes, with some guarding their eggs.

  276. Treehopper (Metcalfiella erecta) - P6143835
  277. Treehopper (Metcalfiella erecta)

    Jason pointed me to this colourful membracid. Unfortunately it was moving a little too much when it was my turn to photograph it.

  278. Weevil (Xystus sp.) - P6154320
  279. Weevil (Xystus sp.)

    One of the best beetle finds of this trip was this tri-coloured weevil.

  280. Weevil (Compsus sp.) - P6154416
  281. Weevil (Compsus sp.)

    This pink-headed weevil comes at a close second.

  282. Stick insect (Phasmida) - IMG_20220614_235630x
  283. Stick insect (Phasmida)

    At night, I tried some UV shots using Merav’s UV Beast and got some decent results on my phone’s camera.

  284. Ladybird beetle (Neda sp.) - P6154245
    Ladybird beetle (Neda sp.) - P6154256
    Ladybird beetle (Neda sp.) - P6154193
    Ladybird beetle (Neda sp.) - P6154136
  285. Ladybird beetles (Neda spp.)

    The ladybird beetles that we saw were a treat. Not sure if they were just morphs of the same species.

  286. Buff-tailed Coronet (Boissonneaua flavescens) - P6150430
    Golden Tanager (Tangara arthus) - P6150545
    Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager (Anisognathus somptuosus) - Q6142695
    Flame-faced Tanager - (Tangara parzudakii) - Q6140094
    Golden-naped Tanager (Chalcothraupis ruficervix) - Q6150578b
    Masked Flowerpiercer (Diglossa cyanea) - Q6140209
    Masked Trogon (Trogon personatus) - Q6140366
    Masked Trogon (Trogon personatus) - Q6140296
  287. Birds of Bellavista Lodge

    I was somehow still jet-lagged at the end of the trip, so I spent about half an hour before breakfast checking out some of the birds outside my room.

  288. Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan (Andigena laminirostris) - P6150817b
  289. Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan (Andigena laminirostris)

    My favorite birds had to be these Plate-billed Mountain-Toucans. The lodge has some plantains around so they are almost always in the area.

  290. Team Bellavista: Merav, Jason and Nicky - IMG_20220615_092520
  291. Team Bellavista

    Just a few hours before my flight, KLM informed me that my flight home was cancelled, likely due to the strikes in Ecuador. It was a stress-filled morning and I left Bellavista without a flight home. BUT… I was still very grateful for this little group where we found so much in less than 2 days. We need to do this again!

Want More?

The photos above are just snippets of the trip. To see the full list of species documented, check out BugShot Ecuador 2022 Checklist.

Macro Photography Equipment

For this trip, I brought along several setups for macro and general wildlife photography.

For larger subjects:

For smaller subjects:

For cctv relay wide angle macro:

For general wildlife from a distance (thanks to Master D’Imaging for the loan!):

For milky way photography:

For behind the scenes shots and videos:




Hi my name is Nicky Bay. I am a macro photographer, instructor and book author, travelling the world to document the vast micro biodiversity that nature has to offer. Follow my updates and discover with me the incredible beauty and science behind our planet's micro creatures!

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