In June 2009 i had the possibility to visit Costa Rica for 2 weeks. In such a short time i had to plan before which parts of this diverse country I am going to visit. I decided the head to the Mountains of Monteverde after arrival in San José and then continue to the peninsular of Nicoya. After that I travelled down south to Jaco and then back to San José.
After arriving in San José I made a short trip to Heredia just a few km away. I read in the article "DÖRR, T., A. HALBIG & J. OSMANI (2006): Auf Vogelspinnensuche in Costa Rica. ARACHNE 11(2): 4-20 " that in Heredia it is possible to find lots of specimen of Sphaerobothria hoffmanni. Especially on a football field near the University the authors of the article found many of these spiders.
( To order the magazine with the article click here : www.dearge.de/arachne/nachbestellung.php#a2006 )
After arriving by bus in Heredia i found a burrow a Sphaerobotria hoffmanni just next to the bus station behind a barb wire fence. I was able to have a close look at it after playing with a blade of gras at the entrance of the burrow. But the spider disappeared quickly so that i was not able to take a picture. But I was confident that I will find many more after this nice beginning at the places mentioned in the article. After finding the football field I was carefully searching every single meter for a couple of hours. There was no burrow and no spider at all ! Also in the neighbourhood I just found one burrow with a spider inside but because it was private property i was not able to dig for it.
It is to discuss how within three years the amount of hundreds of spiders can come to one....
Here a picture of the football field and one of the burrows in the neighbourhood. Typical for south american ground living spiders is that they produce only little or no silk.
After this disappointment i travelled to Monteverde , a town at high altitude with a moist and cold climate. The landscape is dominated by cloud forest. On the way to Monteverde I was really happy to find 2 different tarantulas just about 20 meters away from each other. First one was Aphonopelma seemanni , the other one might have been a Stichoplastoris sp. There was no silk in or around the burrow of the Aphonopelma but the Stichoplastoris used lots of it so that it was easy to spot.
Burrow Aphonopelma seemanni. It was about 30- 40 cm deep.
Home of possibly a Stichoplastoris spp. , also this burrow was not very deep
poss. Stichoplastoris sp.
On higher altitude these spiders species did not appear anymore. Monteverde is famous for its big Megaphobema mesomelas. It was even possible to park my car in front of one ...
Cloud forest around Monteverde
Epiphyte in the cloud forest:
Besides Megaphobema mesomelas also Spaerobothria hoffmanni lives in Monteverde. But again it was not possible to take a proper picture of these spiders. It was interesting that i only found smaller specimen of Megaphobema mesomelas in horizontal burrows while the adult females were mostly between tree roots.
Juvenile and adult specimen didn't use any silk in or around the place they lived.
Juvenile Megaphobema mesomelas:
freshly molted juvenile
Despite their size and colour the spiders were well camouflaged between the trees :
another adult Megaphobema mesomelas:
The following video gives an impression on the habitat of these spiders.
Besides spiders of course there are many more animals to discover. Especially humming birds appear in a great variety.
This unknown mygalomorph spiders inhabited the same environment as Megaphobema mesomelas,
it was found under a rotten log
After seeing Monteverde I moved further on to the Nicoya Peninsular. There are nice beaches and some nice National Parks but due to big and agressive crabs there are no tarantulas near the coast. But a few km away it is easy to find another species: Aphonopelma crinirufum or burica ( people are yet unsure how to label this spider )
But also a possibly Stichoplastoris sp. lives in the same habiat.
Landscape of the Nicoya Peninsula
Beaches near the town of Montezuma:
Aphonopelma crinirufum/ burica can be found next to dirt roads in horizontal burrows. They have a depth of no more than 30cm and also this tarantula species does not use silk to close its burrow.
Burrow of Aphonopelma crinirufum / burica
Aphonopelma crinirufum / burica
Typical for these spiders is the blue colour above the chelizera:
Stichoplastoris sp. on the Nicoya Peninsula lived in an more dry area than the ones i found on the way to Monteverde. Anyways it was dry season at this time and the place might look different at other times of the year.
Habitat Stichoplastoris sp.
During daytime the burrow was closed with silk:
At night they wait fro prey. With 5 cm bodylength this specimen was quite large:
Next stop was Jaco. Here i didn`t find any tarantulas but there is diverse wildlife in the surrounding national parks. Especially the NP " Manuel Antonio " and the "Carara NP " with its alligators were my favourite.
Picture from Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio
Crocodylus acutus in the Parque Nacional Carara
Costa Rica has also a large variety of snakes
molted skin of a Ctenidiae sp.