While these past several months have been unproductive for me on this blog, many other departments of entomology have been everything but. Last March, my camera had reached it's final days before the inner mechanics stopped working, leading to a number of malfunctions. This was a discouraging fact that I would remember well during my trip to Panama later that week. With confined finances, there was only one feasible option; to collect as many beetle species as possibly on the upcoming trip with the extra field time not spent photographing. Of course, this wasn't my ideal situation but it made me feel better towards spending the week in Panama.
As one who is familiar with Latin American insects knows, the most productive insect collecting is done in May and June when rainfall is at it's peak. March is considered to be part of the dry season (if there is such a thing in the tropics). As a result, none of the parties ever filled a collecting vial to the rim. Despite the lack of 'what could have been', we were constantly entertained by the different cultures we bacame a part of and the beauty throughout the country during our trip. Some of the most vivid memories include holding a pet monkey who's owner we met at a market in El Valle, observing manatees (or sea cows) eat bananas suspended just above the river's surface, handling a walking stick nearly 10 inches long, handling a couple rhinoceros beetles with claws that actually broke the skin on the less callused parts of my hand, and spying America's largest jewel beetle on a banana tree leaf in Bocas Del Toro along the Costa Rican boarded. All of this couldn't have been done in better company, Sam Wells and Steve Bonta. We had plenty to talk about and observe as we toured western Panama. I'm also very grateful for the fact that they are fluent in Spanish and experienced navigators from their other Latin American visits.
If I ever get some photographs from our Panama trip, I will post them. When I buy another camera, I will photograph some of the collected material and post the photos, hopefully with some more identifications. Disappointingly, during my lack of blogging there was a technical error and all but a curious single comment was erased from my blog as of last August. My apologies to those who left comments, I hope this doesn't happen again but I have no way of knowing how to make sure of that. For the moment, I expect to occasionally post on broader topics and thoughts, with a blend of posts containing photographs I took with my smart phone over the 2014 summer.