Wildlife

Rainforest Bugs and Best Wishes for 2014!

I have been exploring the Kakamega Forest in Western Kenya over the last few days. The forest is sparkling with life after the heavy rains from earlier this month. It has been wonderful taking long quiet walks in the forest to look at insects and birds and ponder the meaning of life.

Here are a few of the weird and wonderful creatures that I came across…

Arriving at the forest in late afternoon, these gorgeous Blue-Headed Bee Eaters were sunning themselves after bathing in a rainforest pool. These birds, part of the Guinea-Congo rainforest zone fauna, are only found in Kenya in the Kakamega Rainforest:

A pair of Blue-Headed Bee Eaters
A pair of Blue-Headed Bee Eaters

Bees and butterflies were visiting flowers along the trails in the forest.

Brown Pansy Butterfly
Brown Pansy Butterfly

 

There were a lot of bees around, including this strange wasp-like bee (I think that it is a species of bee in the family Colletidae):

Wasp or Wasp-like Bee?
Wasp or Wasp-like Bee?

 

Predators also lay in wait on the flowers in the forest.

This Stingless Bee was one of the unlucky ones…

Plebeina Stingless Bee falls victim to a spider
Plebeina Stingless Bee falls victim to a spider

 

Further down the path troop of monkeys crashed through the treetops leaving behind a ‘gift’ that immediately attracted some wonderful flies. One of the first contenders to appear was this striking Flesh Fly (Sarcophagidae)…

Flesh Fly feasts on fresh dung
Flesh Fly feasts on fresh dung

 

The scent of the fresh dung wafted through the forest air drawing different kinds of flies close. A Black Scavenger Fly perched on a leaf nearby:

Black Scavenger Fly
Black Scavenger Fly

 

While some came for the prospect of a meal, others were drawn to the area with different hopes. The female Black Scavenger Fly was soon joined by a smaller male on the same leaf. At first she ignored him, but he waved his wings with passion at her:

Black Scavenger Flies (male on top left)
Black Scavenger Flies (male on top left)

 

No surprises as to what he tried to do next:

"Do you think I'm sexy?"
“Do you think I’m sexy?”

He met with some, albeit brief, success:

Black Scavenger Flies
Black Scavenger Flies

 

The antics were watched by other flies, like this ‘Zebra Fly’ (actually a Root Maggot Fly), from nearby leaves:

"Zebra Fly" (Root Maggot Fly)
“Zebra Fly” (Root Maggot Fly)

 

Further along the trail was one of the most incredible fly-mimics that live in this forest. Resting on a fallen tree trunk I spotted a large black ‘bee’, that turned out to be a rarely-encountered Mydas Fly!

Robber Fly that mimics a Carpenter Bee
The marvelous Mydas Fly

Mydas Flies are rarely see as adults as they live only a few days in this stage but spend most of their lives as larvae preying on other insect larvae. It is simply amazing that no matter how many times I walk through the rainforest, I always find something new and interesting.

I walked back down along a road through the forest and found this lovely Clear-wing Acraea Butterfly basking in the evening sunshine:

Clear-wing Acraea Butterfly
Clear-wing Acraea Butterfly

 

Here’s to a New Year filled with joy and wonder…

Remember to spend a few minutes in the company of insects and other creatures when you can!

On the summit of Lirandha Hill, Kakamega Forest
On the summit of Lirandha Hill, Kakamega Forest, December 2013

More from the wonderful world of bugs soon!

My name is Dino J. Martins, I am a Kenyan entomologist and I love insects. The Kiswahili word for insect is dudu and if you didn't know already, insects rule the world! Thanks to the amazing efforts of the 'little things that run the world' I was humbled to be selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. This blog is a virtual dudu safari through the fascinating world of bugs. Enjoy, leave a comment and send any questions or comments to me through: insects.eanhs@gmail.com
  • Ima Ryma

    A time and place to come to try
    To be the champion for the prize.
    The scent attracting swarms to vie,
    Awinged en masse, destiny flies,
    Like joisting knights in colored flair,
    Hoping to gain the favored nod
    Of the opposite sex so fair.
    Food and frolic to feed the bod.
    Contenders joist upon the field,
    Bestowed by nature as a “gift,”
    Until the contenders all yield
    To a new game that has been sniffed.

    Nothing like a pile of fresh dung
    To rally flies near and far flung.

  • reem

    realy u take me in amazing journey with insects and butterflies like I were there . The scene is seems to be as a human life . I enjoy this journey alot .
    Happy new year

  • Sarah Arnold

    These birds kinda look like my yard chickens.

  • Cynthia Hever

    Great photos! Really enjoyed this article. I love insects. They are truly underrated for what they do. It truly is the little things that run the world as E.O. Wilson says.

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