Insects of Costa Rica

There are about 34’000 insect species in Costa Rica, so we will have to restrain ourselves to a few examples… But you’ll love the ant highways through the jungle and the many butterflies like the blue morpho.

Ant (esp: hormiga)

Leafcutter AntsThe most noticeable ant specie is the leafcutter ant. They can be found on the forest ground in large highways, carrying pieces of leaves on their back. They do not eat the leaves directly but bring it to their nests where workers chew them up and place a special fungus on the leaves. This fungus then spreads and provides food for the colony.

Termite (esp: termita)

Termite’s nests can be seen often in primary and secondary forests. Their brown nests are attached to trees and fence posts and house up to 100’000 termites. They are made of a mixture of half-digested wood pulp and faeces.

Butterfly (esp: mariposa)Myscelia ethusa

Costa Rica is home to at least 1239 species of butterflies.
You can spot butterflies all over Costa Rica. But particularly nice is the area around Poas Volcano, where you find a lovely butterfly garden at the Cataratas La PazMonteverde is also a good place to see butterflies; there is an old butterfly house there that offers professionally guided tours where you can learn a lot about those colored animals. (Contact us for information about butterfly tours and more).

Blue Morpho (esp: Morfo Azul)

blue morphoThe most famous butterfly of Costa Rica is the Blue Morpho, which is known for his wings of a splendid blue color. The morpho can be found all over the country. With its proboscis, it feeds mostly on fluids of fermenting fruit, fungi and tree sap. Morphos can reach wing spans up to an impressing 15 cm, but the average size is around 5-8 cm.

blue  morpho


Mosquitoes are more of a plague than the actual animal people are visiting the country for. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about them except putting on repellent. Places on higher altitudes (like the country’s Central Valley) are less affected by mosquitoes than beaches and coastal areas.

An interesting fact is that only female mosquitoes bite when producing eggs. They can only feed their higher protein requirement for procreation with blood. This means that by letting a mosquito bite you, you involuntarily contribute to their successful reproduction. Wenn sie Eier tragen, ist ihr Proteinbedarf höher, und diesen können sie nur mit Blut decken. Indem man sich also von Mücken stechen lässt, trägt man unfreiwillig dazu bei, dass sie sich erfolgreich vermehren…

More Insect Images:

a leaf or an insect?butterfly: eurides isabella
A leaf or an insect?


The Mammals of Costa Rica

Mammals developed from reptiles in the late Triassic Period, some 240 million years ago. Here are some important features that distinguish them: Mammals have advanced brains that benefit them in many ways. Hair on their bodies insulates from the cold. Finally, they do not lay eggs, but bear live young (this way, they can stay mobile during pregnancy instead of having to guard eggs). And the production of milk provides an ever available source of food for the offspring.

Of around 4800 mammal species worldwide, 200 can be found in Costa Rica.

Spotting mammals requires similar attention as spotting birds. Early in the morning is a good time (as nocturnal animals make their way to sleep) and zones around water bear a better chance of being frequented by mammals. As with most animals, try to remain quiet as you walk along: if they won’t hear you, you might hear them!

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Amphibians in Costa Rica

The class of Amphibians developed around 400 million years ago, in the Paleozoic Era. They developed from fish and were probably the first animals to walk on land. Water, however, is still essential for them today: as the term “Amphibian” indicates, they spend one part of their lives (mostly the juvenile stage) in water and another on land. Amphibians not only breathe through lungs, but also have thin skins that assist oxygen conversion. All amphibians are carnivores. They seem defenceless at first, but many species developed toxin production in the skin that make them less tasty for predators (the most famous example being the Poison Dart Frog).

Amphibians are usually found in or around moist places (near streams, puddles or in wet forests). The best time are wet nights, particularly during rainy season.


Frogs | Toads

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The Birds of Costa Rica

With around 830 bird species, Costa Rica is a veritable paradise for the birdwatching traveller. 600 species call Costa Rica their home all year round and 200 migrate from temperate zones. Compared to the 700 bird species occurring in North America, this is an amazing variety! The magnificence of tropical birdlife is astonishing, due to highly coloured bodies (the scarlet macaw being the most famous example). So not only the experienced bird spotter, but also first-timers will be enchanted by the colourful avian wildlife expecting you in this natural habitat.


Parrot | Toucan | Quetzal | Hummingbird | Roseate Spoonbill | Egret | Vulture


Birds evolved from reptiles, around 150 million years ago, during the Jurassic Period of the Mesozoic Era. Birds tell a story of evolutionary success, mainly as a result of their ability to fly. Hollow bones and powerful feathered wings are the two main characteristics that enable them to fly. As classification of birds is a science of its own and there is no clear consensus on these classifications, we will only describe single birds (not their genealogy).

That most tropic birds are frugivorous is an important ecological feature. It contributes to the evolutionary success of birds and trees: fruit is always easily available and does not have to be caught in exhaustive hunts. Trees on the other hand can spread their seeds farther away – as they are carried and “dropped off” by birds. That way, young plants do not have to compete with parents for important sunlight (read the Toucan for more information).

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Sea Turtles in Costa Rica

Sea Turtles in Costa Rica

One of the great attractions of the Playa Junquillal area that gets completely overlooked by many visitors and part-time residents is sea turtle nesting and the protection of the eggs. Most people come to Costa Rica’s northwest Pacific Coast in search of sun, surf, sportfishing and the like. But the magnificent beaches and water that provide those entertainments for humans also attract five endangered sea turtle species to lay their eggs.

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Famous Animal Activists

When I look into the eyes of an animal I do not see an animal. I see a living being, I see a friend, I feel a soul. ~ Anthony Douglas Williams ~

While some celebrities are sun tanning in Malibu or peddling bottled water in their spare time, there are some very special ones who choose to do something more meaningful.  They could be doing absolutely anything they want but, thankfully, they choose to help animals.  Please make a special effort to support these good-hearted celebrities in their professional ventures – it WILL help animals in the end. Continue reading »

Zoo Ave – Nature Restoration Foundation Costa Rica

Established in Costa Rica, the Nature Restoration Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental conservation projects right through environmental education, research, habitat conservation, wildlife rescue and restoration of wildlife populations. Our Foundation was legally established in 1995, however, established his administrative figure from the year 1990, with the acquisition of our first project: the Zoo Ave.

Ten Ways You Can Help Animals

Help reduce animal overpopulation

The Problem:

Every year, between 6 and 8 million dogs and cats enter shelters in the U.S. Sadly, about half of these animals are euthanized because there are not enough homes for them. This problem is made worse by “factory-style” dog-breeding facilities known as puppy mills, which put profit above the welfare of animals. Most dogs raised in puppy mills are housed in shockingly poor conditions and receive little, if any, medical care. Animal over-population often leads to hungry, aggressive, and unhealthy strays that can compromise their welfare and threaten public health.

The Solution:

  • Adopt your next new friend from an animal shelter or rescue group instead of buying from a breeder or pet store.
  • Make sure your new friend is spayed or neutered.
  • Research different breeds to ensure you find one that’s right for you and your family. Continue reading »