Photogenic yellow-wasp “paper” nest
Posted January 2, 2019
Bees are occasionally shown in Mayan art; wasps very rarely. My interest in looking for wasp nests is to find HONEY Wasps. Yes, wasps that make edible honey. These exist in Mexico, Guatemala, and elsewhere. But honey wasps are only one of scores of wasp species, so it will take time to find honey wasps at Yaxha. But in the meantime, here are photos of a wasp nest that has beautiful “bee hive” octagonal structure. Although I am not an entomologist, I believe these busy insects are not busy bees but rather are busy wasps.
We do not yet have an identification for the beautiful wasps here, but they are small and there are literally THOUSANDS of them busily working on their nest structure. This is a healthy-sized mature nest.
Since I seek and then photograph wasp nests all around Guatemala I am stung so often that to me this is simply part of normal discomfort. Most wasps do not sting unless you accidently bump into their nest. Or, if they see a camera with micro lens only a few inches away from their nest!
Archaeologist Jose Leonel Ziesse Altán, one of the administrators of Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum, kindly told me where to find this nest when I indicated that one of our goals for the December field trip was to find bee nests, wasp nests, and arboreal ant nests.
Arboreal ant nests at Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo
Posted December 27, 2018
During our November field trip to Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo (Peten, Guatemala) the park ranger who assists the FLAAR Mesoamerica team showed us three ant nests up in the two adjacent (but different species) of trees along Blom Sacbe (halfway to Grupo Maler). Since these nests looked like wasp nests my first estimate was that perhaps the ants had invaded and driven out the wasps?
Since these ant nests are up in trees it was not possible in November to get the camera high enough to photograph the nest straight-on. So I bought a new much taller Gitzo tripod (over 3 meters tall) and we bought a tall ladder to Yaxha for our late December field trip.
While at Yaxha this week before Christmas the park ranger (Teco) found several more nests: all had ants and I now believe these are original ant nests and not taken over from wasps. In about 50% of these ant nests stingless bees have built their hives inside the ant nest. There seems to be no overt animosity between these two insects in the nests, so we need to learn whether this is a symbiotic relationship, or some other phenomenon of nature.
The two arboreal ant nests at the left were found by Teco (Moises Daniel Perez Diaz), park ranger. Nicholas Hellmuth found the one in the Spanish Moss (in front of the IDAEH camp kitchen).
I took about 30 to 80 photographs of each ant nest. Maria Alejandra Gutierrez did macro-photos of several of the nests as well. We will publish all these photos in a FLAAR report on arboreal ant nests at Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo.
We also found independent bee hives and several very active and very fierce-stinging wasp nests this week. So lots to learn about at Yaxha.
Here is a friendly little Insect in front of my office window
Snowy egrets to see at Lake Yaxha, Peten, Guatemala
Posted Dec. 6, 2018
Dozens of waterbirds are around Lake Yaxha and adjacent Rio Ixtinto for you to see, photograph, and experience. Here is one example, the Snowy Egret (no snow in Peten, Guatemala, December, January, and February are nice temperatures here in the Neotropical seasonal rain forest).
Egretta thula can be found along the south shore, west end, and north shore of Lake Yaxha, plus along the Rio Ixtinto (which starts alongside the island of Topoxte).
Boats are available from hotel Ecolodge El Sombrero or from the visitor’s center of Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo.
Butterflies & Flowers waiting for you to experience them at Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo
Posted Dec. 5, 2018
Pollinators are important to learn about because if they are exterminated by bulldozing or chopping down all the plants, or spraying pesticides and insecticide, then flowers will not be pollinated so no next generation flowers will appear.
So FLAAR Mesoamerica is making a list of all pollinators at Yaxha: bees, butterflies, bats, beetles, birds: plus even mammals (hint, the micoleon on the balsa flower).
Visit Yaxha to experience pollinators, and the beautiful flowers here. This particular flower is of the genus Cissus, possibly Cissus gossypifolia, a vine along the entire northern shore of Lake Yaxha and areas of the edges of Topoxte Island and Rio Ixtinto.
Birds along lake shore to experience at Yaxha, Peten, Guatemala
Posted Nov. 2, 2018
The several kilometer wide Lake Yaxha (and adjacent Lake Sacnab) are home to many waterbirds. We show a sample here: the Green Heron, Butorides virescens, north shore of Lake Yaxha, Oct 31, 2018.
The Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo is open all year long; bird-watching guides are available, plus several bird-watching specialists organize field trips here (Yaxha has more diverse eco-systems so you see a lot of different flowers and birds). Hotel Ecolodge El Sombrero is where we stay every month (conveniently located at entrance to the park). Boats are available so you can experience and photograph the waterbirds.