Day 4 – Chemical Warfare

Part Two of the Three part series. Let me give you a recap: the equator monument was a fake. I’ll believe I’m on the equator when a GPS unit tells me so and I will correct my positioning for error measurements. On to the famed flowers.

May 28th, 2014

To start things off, calcium oxalate. This chemical compound is present in the leaves and stems of plants of the family Araceae. When this plant is preyed upon by herbivorous insects and its matter is ingested, the calcium oxalate crystals present in the plant will cut into the mouth, throat, and upper digestive tract of the insect. I have found out through personal trial and error that a human digesting this plant results in the same symptoms. Statistics requires at least a sample size of 10 and we were so close in obtaining the correct number of experimental trails to have a conclusive set of data, but one student neglected this time honored tradition in favor of personal comfort (Don’t worry, peer pressure is a powerful force), so it was nearly a group experience. Now I know what insects feel like.

In addition to other insights into “a bug’s life”, I will skip ahead and tell the secrets of El Pahuma Orchid Reserve at night. Upon the setting of the sun at about 7pm here in Equador, the diversity of species present for our viewing pleasure differs greatly. Insects that must stay inactive during the day for predator avoidance strategies are now free to be energized and populate the understory with their exoskeleton appendages and characteristic clicking through the night. Spiders, walking sticks, moths, crickets, as well as many other non-insect creatures were out and about as well. If you are lucky, you might spot a bat. If you’re luckier, you might have one fly at your unusually lanky 5’11 Columbian frame. And to think, after refusing to eat the salt crystals the same student had the unbelievable luck to be that person… Well you can’t win them all.

Find out next time what happens on Brian’s overly sarcastic and obviously unpopulated blog!!! Be excited.