Caribbean Beasties

Recently we’ve been hosting a few friendly creepy crawlies and attempting to ward off some not-so-friendly ones so I thought I’d write a post about some of the more prevalent and infamous creatures of The Caribbean.

In a previous post, Secret Harbour Hike (August 2014), I included a photo of the rather large millipede that lives on Grenada which has been known to spit at potential aggressors. More recently we were at volleyball in Secret Harbour when Alex from s/v Banyan showed me the “Frangipani Hornworm”, aka the “Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar*. Their markings and colours are gorgeous and they denuded the host frangipani in a matter of hours. Chomp, chomp, chomp! Even if the tree has been debilitated, it is unlikely that it will die. They can eat up to three large leaves per day but apparently most trees survive and re-shoot. The caterpillar is striking with the black body measuring approximately 15cms long, yellow stripes, orange feet and a reddy-orange head. The word “horn” in the name refers to a 2cm black horn that grows out of an orange bump on the end of the body. The female moth is the largest, with a 12-14cm wingspan.

With humidity around 80-90% most days at this time of year, we experience frequent, but normally short, showers. When this occurs we provide shelter for a few bees. We have a large cockpit so they normally shelter in there or under the dinghy when it’s up on the davits. Sometimes they look so exhausted that we offer them some honey to give them a lift. They love it. They then shake themselves down, clean their wings and are off back to work again as soon as the rain passes.

Bees gathering energy
Kool Kat Bee Shelter

Unfortunately, high moisture levels also bring mosquitoes and every Caribbean island has now been infested with the aedes aegypti mosquito which carries the virus, chikungunya (pronounced exactly as it is spelt). As reported in previous posts, I have had it but Mal, to date, hasn’t thankfully. 65% of the Grenadian population has now been infected with it, including alot of cruisers, and we’ve heard of local schools closing because there were too many teachers sick. Some infected people require hospitalisation as a result of severe dehydration. A quick rehydration recipe has been circulated via the Grenada Cruisers FB page: 1L water with 1 tsp salt and 1tsp sugar but we used a commercial electrolyte mix and we believe that was a valuable ingredient in my speedy recovery. The virus has dengue-like symptoms including a sudden high fever, severe pain in the wrists, ankles or knuckles, muscle pain, headache, nausea, and rash. Joint pain and stiffness are more common with chikungunya than with dengue. The mosquito is quite distinctive with striped legs and a red abdomen and is most active during daylight hours.

Aedes Aegypti mosquito
Aedes Aegypti mosquito

Moving on from the not-so-friendly beasties, we have witnessed the most beautiful little critters: fireflies or aka lightning bugs. On a dark night they are so pretty and look just like a string of fairy lights in the trees. According to the National Geographic website where I obtained this photo, they are related to glowworms, which Mal & I are more familiar with, and they have a dedicated light organ under their abdomen. It flashes intermittently to attract mates or to ward off prey. Come to think of it, I’ve seen a few human males with lights attached to their heads at night. H’mmmm, interesting!

Firefly, aka Lightning Bug

I wanted to share with you photos of one of the many geckos we see in The Caribbean. After volleyball a large group of us sit around a table at the Secret Harbour Marina for a few beers and a chat and, more often than not, this little fella pays us a visit. We need more of his kind to keep the mosquitoes down as this is a rich hunting ground!IMG_1639 (1024x768) IMG_1640 (768x1024)Gwen & Guillaume from s/v Slow Waltz actually have a “pet” gecko on board. I think his name is Pedro and he stowed away on their boat in one of the northern islands and has sailed all the way down to Grenada with them. A very cheap and easy to care for pet! Apparently, this isn’t so unusual as Tony & Anne on s/v Pavo Real also picked up a gecko hitchhiker at an island but SHE must have been pregnant because they now have a very large family of varying sizes on their boat and are currently trying to work out how to evict them!

I almost forgot about our pet, Caracas the Crab. He’s taken up residence in our port-side sugar scoop where he earns his keep cleaning the bottom of the boat. Unfortunately, he is camera-shy so I won’t be posting his photo today. Perhaps in the future sometime when he’s sunning himself on deck with a margharita!

I hope this post won’t deter any potential visitors to Kool Kat and if you’re an Aussie you’ll be used to dealing with much worse! 🙂

So, until we come across some more Caribbean beasties, this is it. One of our blog followers recently asked about cooking on board and local foods so I think that may be our next topic.

Until then have a great one, Sue & Mal xx

*Details about the frangipani hornworm were obtained from Wikipedia.


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