Day 1: Ant Man? Not quite!

Today’s general agenda: airport —> lunch at Cheers —> grocery shopping at New Flags —> Crystal Paradise Ecolodge 

We have only been in Belize for less than 24 hours, but it definitely feels like we have experienced so much of it already. What may have been long car rides between destinations actually turned into interesting observations and discussions. 

For instance, we spotted the Taiwan ICDF and Taiwan flags! After getting more stable internet, I quickly searched up Taiwan ICDF, and, turns out, they work towards boosting socio-economic status and providing human resources for developing partner communities. I think I was definitely surprised to see Taiwan conducting such outreach work in Belize, and I am definitely glad that they have such capacity to do so. 

Taiwan ICDF in Belize

In terms of taxonomic identification (again, I am the ant-person or ant-man), I was pleased to find many different ants already! The most common ants that we spotted were leaf cutter ants, specifically Atta cephalotes. These leaf cutter ants have mandibles, which are pincer-like jaws, that cut leaves and flowers and brings them back to their nest. However, other ants identification proved to be more difficult. I spotted two ants that were roughly 1.5cm, but I could not seem to correctly identify them (see image below). My guesses are that they are some leafcutter ant species but it definitely is hard to be sure without any type of microscope. 

Unidentified ant. Possibly belonging to the Ponerinae family

Overall, today proved to be a very eventful day! From jumping into the river to observing horses, tapirs, and more, we really have only grazed the surface of Belize. Tomorrow, we will slowly disconnect from civilization (internet is really not the best in the forest as you can imagine) and head into the deep rainforest. Until then, hopefully I’ll get better at identifying ants and I can’t wait to hear what other students have prepared for the trip. 



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