Costa Rica Insectopedia

Costa Rica is known to have over 100,000 species of insects and arachnids, collectively known as BUGS, and we can testify to seeing at least that many types in our house at the beginning of rainy season in May. If you try hard enough, you could probably discover a different insect every day of your life here. Living with bugs is part of the way of life here, so it’s probably best to learn to love and appreciate them.

Flat Foot Bug Costa RicaFor those of you who think bugs belong inside a bug vacuum appliance remember that there are many more of them than us, so it’s probably best not to piss them off. They outnumber and outweigh us by a few orders of magnitude, and have been here millions of years more. When we are dead and gone, they will keep going about their business as if humans never mattered.

In the Malpais/Montezuma area, we have fewer species and quantity of insects than the lusher rainforests and cloud forests of other parts of Costa Rica because of our dry season (Nov-April).

Unless otherwise noted, all of these photos were taken by Geoff McCabe. Many were just accidental discoveries on my porch or while walking around doing other things. For photography, it helps to have a macro lens for extreme closeups.

I hope other amateur bug photographers will email more photos from the area, and if anyone discovers any errors in my classifications and descriptions, of which I don’t doubt there are many, then please let me know and I’ll correct them.

Other Insect Photo Galleries:





Glowing Bugs


Scary Bugs


The varieties of insects and arachnids in Costa Rica is stunning, and it’s a great pleasure to live here and be continually surprised, even after eight years here, by new species of them. To take all these photos doesn’t require exploring through the rainforests, but just being here. For the most part, these bugs come to you, and so I have my camera with me at all times. The few times I’ve gone out purposely to look for bugs, it seems that I can’t find any. So, lots of time spent outdoors, and a sharp eye are all that’s needed to be treated by the site of nature’s colorful creepy crawly splendor.

Costa Rica Red Army Ants Baby Preying Mantis Assassin Bug #1
I’ve only seen red army ants in Montezuma once. I don’t really know if they’re even real army ants, but they behaved like them in that they were invading an area in mass. This tiny preying mantis at first glance looks just like an ant, which may be a type of defense mechanism. Thanks to Meredith Livesay, for identifying this as an “Assassin Bug”. She says they have a painful saliva, so be careful picking them up. Luckily I was wearing a glove when I held this one!
Colored Montezuma Grasshopper Katydid Preying Mantis with Leaf Wings
This colorful bug looked like a cross between a grasshopper and a moth. An ordinary Katydid, always an amazing insect because it looks so much like a leaf. Our cat loves to eat them. This was a very unusual type of preying mantis that we seldom see. It varied from the usual type in that it had a leaf-shape camouflage.<
Montezuma Red Flying Bug Stink Bugs Walking Stick
I have to admit that this was dead when I found it. I haven’t seen one alive yet. Pair of grey/brown flat-footed bugs. The incredible walking stick. These are almost impossible to find they’re so well camoflaged. Our friend Jacob found one in Montezuma well over a
foot long.
Costa Rica Walking Stick Insect Costa Rica Weird Bug Santa Teresa, Costa Rica Beach Grasshopper
This is a second type of walking stick. It was twice as long as the other,yet thinner and didn’t have those bright green legs. It had a 7-8″ body length. Strange weirdly shaped bug. photo by Tania Johanning V. – Beach grasshopper on Tania’s hand.
Costa Rica - Mean Looking Bug on Purple Flower Costa Rican Bumblebee Montezuma termite road - two types of termites shown
This ugly bug looks like it would definitely bite, but it didn’t. I put it on the flower for the photo, which isn’t its natural habitat. Large colorful bumblebee. Termite mounds in the trees are a common site in Costa Rica, often mistaken for sleeping howler monkeys. The termites build a covered road to protect themselves, which extends down their nest tree to the ground, then through the ground and then up onto another tree which has dead branches for their feast.
Assassin Bug in Montezuma Costa Rica Thorn Bug Costa Rica Blue Wasps
Another Assassin Bug! Beware – they can have a painful bite! The body is approximately one inch long. We were excited to find these thorn bugs, having only seen them in photos or on the Discovery Channel. They were all on a single stem of a Guanacaste tree seedling. We wondered if this was a momma and babies, or a male and his harem, or a female with suitors? Thanks to Jen Kish from Missouri, who alerted me that this is a Female and her nymphs (babies). These were vividly metallic blue wasps, congregating for an unknown reason. There are so many types of wasps here, and yet neither my wife or I has ever been stung, despite several nests on our deck.
Red and orange flat-footed bug with red boots Metallic fly or bee Bug with bits of junk stuck all over its body
Flat footed bug. This remarkably beautiful bug was approximately two inches long. This insect looked like a fly, but it could have been a bee. It was the most metallic bug I’ve ever seen. This interesting little guy had bits of all kinds of stuff stuck on his back, and crawled around slowly, very well disguised as a dust-bunny.
Dusky Ladybug Larva Metallic fly or bee Preying Mantis Baby
This photo shows two differnt bugs that happened to be in the same spot. The white one looks like some kind of strange undersea creature, but thanks to Sharon Sabel, it’s now identified as a Dusky Ladybug Larva This is a small totally bizarre-looking bug photographed by Adam Tenenbaum. I love preying mantises, and so I had to show another photo of one.
Giant Cricket Large brown bug with very long antennae
This was a giant cricket or grasshopper that was photographed while it was on glass, so we could clearly see its spotted belly. I found this bug in Malpais on the door of my office. Its antennae were unusually long.
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