Everyone who’s traveled to Costa Rica knows we have a lot of bugs. But did you know that we have new bugs? This week, INBio (the National Institute of Biodiversity) announced that in 2011 they found 26 new species of insects, along with 8 fungii, and 19 plants for a total of 53 living things never before identified by science. Costa Rica already boasts over 500,000 species – it’s one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet – and 75% of them are insects. All life forms are important to the balance of nature. One of the new discoveries is a genus of wasps with 8 species. But, maybe the most vital finding of 2011 is a fly associated with fruit crops – it could have real economic importance in Costa Rica.
Steve and I try to embrace biodiversity. In our travels around the country, we’ve seen a lot of species new to us: monkeys, jaguarundis, tapirs, and coatis. We keep notes in our bird book, the dates and location where we’ve spotted them. It surprises me how many we’ve seen right here at our house and that we spot them on the same date each year. (It’s probably more than obvious that I’m not a biologist.) I enjoy the beauty of moths and butterflies that hang on my window screens, fully aware that their caterpillars eat my basil and pepper plants. The paper wasps, that never bother humans, eat those caterpillars.
If you want to enjoy some of this biodiversity when you visit Costa Rica, get out of the car. We advise our guests to walk whenever possible, take time, and be observant. It’s amazing what you’ll see on the road between our house and Samara beach. You might make the next big discovery. Then, you can name it after your wife.