Encounters Panama: Crawlies, Big & Small

For a glimpse of the many creatures we encountered, both big and small, who moved about the world in creepily non-human ways, from slithering to flying, check out the photo album that follows.

Caimán 6-8’ length
Squeeze toy for Rover? Nope. A caterpillar seen in Bocas del Toro, Panama. We were unsuccessful in finding out its name or habits — only that you touch NO caterpillar in Panama as possibilities for pain and injury are endless.

A creature for which I did not get a photo (but avidly wish I did), flew erratically and rapidly about after dark, bashing into windows and walls outside, almost as though it was blind. I did not even get a proper glimpse of it because it would take flight again instantly after crashing into a wall. I have a creeping suspicion though, that it may have been a flying cockroach of the sort I saw many years ago in Baja, Mexico. Ugh.

Twice in the evening, when I ventured out after dark for some task, flashlight in hand, I encountered a massive expedition of crabs scrabbling about. We heard anecdotally from a neighbour later, that it was a migration of the creatures. Amazing, and reminiscent of a sci-fi movie.

Cane toads would only be seen at night, staring boldly — seemingly in a confrontation of standoff — so I was shocked to discover one in an outdoor sink during daylight hours. I thought it was dead or near-dead from drought so I attempted to move it with a shovel. Yikes, it came to life and was having no part of that! Despite Aaron’s effort to give the toad a leg-up by putting a ramp into the sink, thinking it was stuck in there, we later heard that they can jump great distances — greater than the sink walls. After dark I saw the toad outside the sink, looking hale and hearty, alertly hunting for bugs to eat.

We were both stung by scorpions while on the Azuero Peninsula, Aaron in the night with 2 stings and me in daylight by a large adult. Although we encountered several scorpions outdoors during our first days there, when we found several inside our cottage, the novelty began to wear off and we were no longer thrilled to see these exotic beasts.

Moths are aplenty and varied in appearance, as are stick bugs, cicadas, bees and many others for whom I couldn’t even guess the species.