Many scientific researchers come to Costa Rica to study its diverse wildlife, and many ordinary people also come as eco-tourists, most of them not really knowing what to expect. It's a premier bird watching destination, and for people who are patient it's certainly possible to see a lot of wonderful and colorful tropical birds. However, very few eco-tourists come with the intention of looking for insects here, even though many of the insects are every bit as attractive as the birds, and a lot more numerous. Of course, the insects are smaller and before you can appreciate them you do have to get past the disdain of "bugs" which society hammers into people from a very young age.
The small nation of Costa Rica is a hotbed of diversity in the insect world, with around 1250 species of butterfly, 500 species more than the entire United States. The intense level of competition in the tropical jungle not only produces a large number of different species, but also a fantastic array of weird and wonderful adaptations. Although Costa Rica's proximity to the United States makes it one of the most visited eco-tourism destinations and also a favorite of ecological study, I was still able to capture on film critters which even the experts couldn't identify.
Apart from butterflies and dragonflies, one family of insects which you're certain to see down here is the ant. If you're lucky then you won't come in contact with the bullet ant, which gets to a length of about two centimeters and has a bite which can cause severe sickness for a couple of days. It's far more likely that you'll see leafcutter ants, which are amongst the most amazing members of this diverse family, with a very complex society. Their trails and prominent nests are very common, and if you stop and look you'll almost certainly see them walking up and down tree trunks, dwarfed by the pieces of leaves they're carrying down to the nest.