High Drama as Tarantula Hawk Wasp drags a tarantula to its doom.

April 12th, 2018

This Tarantula Hawk Wasp is a pepsid wasp that will lay a single egg in the tarantula which will then hatch in the still living body and fully develop therein.

These wasps are common here at Mount Totumas and both visiting entomologists and the locals have mentioned its life cycle. This is the first time we got to witness this pepsid wasp doing its thing!

Bothriechis lateralis & Bothriechis nigroviridis

March 24th, 2018

Bothriechis lateralis & Bothriechis nigroviridis. There are two species of palm vipers here at Mount Totumas. Laszlo Klein and Petra Rusche came back for a return trip and Laszlo was able to locate and photograph both species. Amazing snakes and amazing photographer!

























Isthmohyla tica Starrett’s Tree Frog

February 10th, 2018

Starrett’s Tree Frog Isthmohyla tica

Andreas Hertz, an expert on Panama’s amphibians, and his colleague Alex Shepak visited us in early January. This was Andreas’s 3rd visit to Mount Totumas surveying amphibians.

The Pandemic of chytrid fungus (Chytridiomycosis) effecting many amphibian species around the world is a focus of Andreas’s work. Many species formerly common in Central America are now feared extinct, a few have bounced back.

During their visit Andreas located a critically endangered Tree Frog, the Starrett’s Tree Frog Isthmohyla tica. This frog has not been seen on the Pacific side of Panama or Costa Rica in over 10 years. Here is the red list IUCN reference of this species:


There is hope that the remnant populations of this and other critically endangered amphibian species are made up of individuals with disease resistance. This may enable some species to bounce back. For this reason Andreas and Alex were taking tissue swap samples for further investigation.

Andreas taking a swab sample.
P1180189 (2)

Alex preparing a sample.



This individual represents hope for this critically endangered species.

The Howler Tree Cabin

December 28th, 2017


Introducing our latest accommodation. The Howler Tree Cabin. 20 feet high integrated into a live standing oak tree, this tree cabin is our only accommodation in closed forest. A private balcony offers an intimate view into the canopy. There is the sound of a nearby stream and monkeys and birds move through the forest throughout the day. A lovely single large room with queen bed, small table, a bathroom. Hot water, electricity. The Howler Tree Cabin is a WiFi and internet free zone.

Great for couples, solitary travelers and small families.






New and Improved Hummingbird Hat.

November 12th, 2017

Hum Hat 1

This is our 2nd generation hummingbird hate featuring triple feeders and counter weights to insure a tight fit. Everybody loves the Hummingbird Hat here at Mount Totumas……..



alma hum hat





a tame bird 7


Smartest New World Monkey

November 8th, 2017

The White-faced Capuchin is considered the smartest monkey of the American tropics. These animated monkeys are common here at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest and we enjoy looking down on them from the deck of the lodge as they sometimes emerge to the top of the canopy to feed on flowers, fruits and seeds.

These capuchins came right up to the edge of the forest close to the deck of our lodge where they were feeding on an Inga sp. tree and another species the locals call Olivo. We will try to ID this tree as well.

Laszlo Klein’s Photos

November 3rd, 2017

We already featured a couple of Laszlo’s photos in an earlier blog entry. When Petra and Laszlo returned to Germany this summer after their visit to Mount Totumas they started sending me more images. What an amazing diversity of images of insects and herpetology.

Enjoy them!














































Ricardo Moreno and his mission to protect Panama’s Big Cats

November 1st, 2017


Ricardo Moreno is a wildlife biologist who is dedicating his studies and career to saving the jaguar and other big cats here in Panama. He is director of Yaguara Panama an organization whose mission is to study the status of jaguars in Panama, educate the public and long term advise public policy toward the preservation of this magnificent animal. Ricardo is associated with the Smithsonian Institute and was named this year by the National Geographic Society as an emerging explorer to remedy some of the biggest challenges facing our planet.

Ricardo came to Mount Totumas Cloud Forest in August and we walked some of our trails, set up camera traps and reviewed more than 4 years of photos we have documented here with our trail cameras. Bordering directly La Amistad NP and being neighbors to cattle farmers in the area, we are in the critical buffer zone and contact area where these big cats roam.

We understand the challenges Ricardo is facing in educating the public regarding the protection of jaguars and mountain lions. Here in the Rio Colorado valley we are the first presence of eco tourism in the area and during 8 years here we have discussed with many of our neighbors the importance of protecting Panama’s natural heritage. Many local farmers, like in many parts of the world, view the big cats as a threat to their economic interests when they occasionally kill livestock. This is the core issue in solving the problem in protecting these top predators.

Ricardo’s enthusiasm and energy is remarkable and all the more so because the challenges facing these big cats is daunting. He is an important ambassador for these magnificent top predators and is having a positive impact.

During Ricardo’s visit we were fortunate to find a fresh track of a big cat. And we made a plaster cast and determined that this was a mountain lion



12280168 When Ricardo reviewed our photo’s we were thrilled to find this immature jaguar image that we had previously thought was an ocelot. This was back in 2014. We are interested to place our camera traps in some of the ridge lines that descent from La Amistad NP to see if we can capture more images.

20170902_152018 Ricardo Moreno giving talk to the public In Cerro Punta in August 2017 in his effort to educate the public on his mission to preserve the big cats. His enthusiasm is contagious!



Ricardo wearing the most recent version of the “hummingbird hat”. It’s not just the big cats that puts a smile on Ricardo’s face!

Summer of Entomology 2017

September 16th, 2017

This summer we had a series of entomological visitors… Here are some highlights starting with an awesome video taken by Pierre-Olivier Ouellet. Pierre is from Quebec and is quite well known for his entomological exhibitions and works with public schools there with his mobile insect museum.

Roy Alain Roy Alain from Quebec was with us in June during an amazing stretch of warm rainy nights with excellent conditions on the moth light.

martin chris Martin and Chris setting up their morning laboratory on the deck of the Bellbird Lodge after a night of collecting.

martins beetles

chris 1 Chris Guay holding a Sematuridae moth Sematura luna

beetle drawing Jen Zalewsk drawing beetles

beetle drawing (2)

Anton Anton Klein from Germany taking photos at the lights.

_DSC6171 Anton in bug heaven

Petra Petra protecting herself from swarms of flying moths as she assists Anton with his photography

_DSC6955 A beautiful skipper butterfly. Photo by Anton.

Albert Thurman Albert Thurman on the sheet down at Catalina, a new collecting site down the road 4km from the lodge.

marpesia sp. Chris Guay’s great pic of Marpesia marcella

dynastes 1 Spodistes batesi Photo by Chris Guay

chrysina 1 A new chrysina beetle for Mount Totumas, Chrysina chrysargyrea . Photo by Chris Guay.

Phryxus sp. Sphynx moth Phryxus sp. Photo by Torben Bille

Antheraea godmani
Close up of Antheraea godmani. Photo by Torben Bille.

geometrid leaf imitator
Torben’s photo of a leaf imitating geometrid moth

Homoeocera gigantea
Torben Bille’s pic of
Homoeocera gigantea

Going fishing to stock our restaurant

August 21st, 2017

Spent the night in Pedregal with Jon and Phyllis and left at 6am the next morning to go fishing in the vast inshore mangrove and bay habitat that supports an abundant fishery right near David..

Franklin throwing a cast net to catch the bait

20170819_072934 John is a master with the cast net.

20170819_074403 Picking up the bait to put in the live well.

20170819_074907 This little guy was released back in the sea.

20170819_064050 Red Mangroves as tall as 40 feet… No hurricanes or tropical storms to knock them down! You would never see Red Mangroves this tall in Florida. .

20170819_064147 Volcan Baru in the distance

18320424_10154598677872686_8030634598697490875_o Snook (from an earlier trip)

20170819_082615Yellow Snapper

20170819_104452 Goliath Grouper, he was released back to the sea to grow up to be 200 lbs!

20170819_133900Mangrove Snapper

20170318_182142 Karin with Red Snapper and Snook ready to filet. This pic from earlier this year.

20170820_114142 Fresh Snapper filets

20170820_115358 Vaccum sealed.

20170820_114627 Ready for the freezer and the high season when local fish will be on the menu at our restaurant!