Today was as crazy of a last day as we could’ve hoped for. I woke up at a luxurious 6:45 since I couldn’t do the bird tower hike with the rest of the gang because of my knee. Once they came back we ate dinner and reconvened to start picking up the camera traps we set out 4 days ago. We went along the Monkey Trail, Saffron Trail, San Pastor and 50 Hecatre plot to pick up our traps. Along the way, we saw a brown anole and a golden turtle beetle, both of which were really cool. I also saw a harvestman of the same round body species that I’ll have to look up and an unidentified species of orb weaver spider.
We came back, ate lunch, and spent a little time catching up on notebooks and listening to music on the deck. We met up with the group from Southern Mississippi to go on leaf cutter excavations, led by the one and only Scott Solomon. He led us into the Monkey Trail where we spent some time excavating the 1-year old nest. After digging around the hole for a while, we were able to see the fungus chamber and extract the fungus ball and the queen ant, which was enormous. We walked along saffron to the giant leaf cutter nest from before, where we spent a while excavating the side of the hill. The Southern Mississippi group left for dinner, but we continued excavating until we ran into the garbage disposal chamber and felt the heat from the decomposing trash they had left.
We came back, showered, and had dinner before heading to the activity we were the most excited about: checking the camera traps. Everyone tried to have low expectations, but it was obvious that we had high expectations. In the first camera traps alone, we spotted a tapir and a jaguar before coming across herds of peccaries, curassows, a 9-ringed armadillo, a coatimundi, two pumas, another jaguar, a rat, a snake, and a lot of photos of ourselves. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited flipping through photos on a screen. All of us were extremely surprised and really excited about the results that we found, even though our initial hypothesis about off-trail sights being more rich, abundant, and diverse was incorrect. After that, we worked on our blogs and packed up to prepare for saying goodbye to Las Cuevas.
Arachnids found: Orb Weaver of an unidentified species on 50-hectare plot on a web with striped legs and a green back. Large wolf spider in the leaf litter that scurried around, looked like the Allocosa family. Florida Bark Scorpion, under the stairs of the lecture room with babies on her back. Another Florida Bark Scorpion on the deck of the dorms, froze when we got close.