Brazil Bugs #5 – Lagartixa

On my third night here in Campinas last week, I went out to check the building lights around the hotel grounds.  Surely a fantastical assortment of gaudy, tropical insects would be awaiting me on this hot, humid, summer night in southern Brazil.  Alas, virtually no insects were to be found anywhere – on the walls, in the window sills, under the street lights, or crawling on the sidewalks.  A disappointment, although I’m loathe to complain too much considering the number of insects I’ve encountered during the daylight hours.  I did find a gecko on the hotel wall, however, and although it is not a “bug” the lack of insects at the lights made a photography subject by default.

I’m not at all an expert on reptiles, and certainly those in South America, but I can’t help wondering if this is Hemidactylus mabouia – the tropical house gecko, or lagartixa-doméstica-tropical – an African species introduced to the New World and now widespread from the southern U.S. through much of South America and the Caribbean.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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14 Responses to Brazil Bugs #5 – Lagartixa

  1. Nice photos, Ted. Does it have a regrown tail? Tail coloring looks odd in that first photo.

    Were some of these with your diffuser setup? I see two highlights in the eyes, but looks like something else, too. Are you making use of the diffuser there? How’s it working out in the field?

    • Thanks, Troy. To be honest, I didn’t even notice the difference in coloration of the tail while I was photographing the specimen – only once I began examining the photos.

      Yes, so far I’ve used the oversized concave diffuser for all of my 100mm shots. It’s working just fine for me in the field – staying in place and non-obtrusive. The “something else” you see in the highlights is the light spreading from the two flashes across the foam – I wish it did a better job of spreading out the light to eliminate the double highlight (and there may be another material that would do such), but for now it is still much better than the StoFen+Puffer diffusers I was using before. I don’t, however, like it so much for the 65mm – there’s just something not right about the lighting that is better accomplished with the smaller version similar to what Alex (Myrmecos) and Kurt (orionmystery) use.

  2. James C. Trager says:

    Hey Ted – That’s no bug!

    And I suspect it’s not even a native Brazilian critter. It looks like a Mediterranean house gecko Hemidactylus turcicus.

    • Hey Ted – That’s no bug!

      I wonder how that ranks on Alex’s Taxonomy Fail Index 🙂

      So you think turcicus rather than mabouia? The latter is apparently quite common in Brasil, while references to the former here are hard to find.

  3. david winter says:

    Wow, what stunning shots Ted.

    Apart from anything else, I have no idea how you were able to get close enough fill the frame. I spent quite a lot of time in Vanuatu chasing house geckos, and the only one I photographed was the poor tiny one that got itself stuck under a piece of sellotape on a wall.

    • It was easy. I caught it and put it on a stick. At first it scampered frantically back and forth on the stick, and I would block it at each end with my hand. Eventually it became accustomed to me (or just got tired) and settled down. The working distance of the 100mm lens is pretty decent, so I’m not quite as close to the lizard as it appears from the photographs.

      And thanks for the comment!

  4. I absolutely love that last photo. Maybe that little fella ate all the bugs you were hoping to find. 😉

    • The last one is my favorite, too.

      Bugs at the lights would’ve been nice – it’s generally a different set than what one finds during the day. I’m not sure why there weren’t any – even though I was in an urban area there was plenty of plant life to support a nocturnal insect fauna. Must have something to do with the rains, seasons, etc.

  5. I like the third picture–aren’t those holes in the side of the gecko’s head ears?
    The gecko’s skin is so pretty if you look at it closely.
    I’m a plant person. I’ve identified over 25 different kinds of wildflowers in a neighboring lot.

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