In last month’s newsletter, we concentrated on some of the larger creatures of Odzala National Park – the megafauna that you could well meet on a game drive or bail walk when you come to Odzala. Spending so much time exploring this pristine ecosystem, our expert guides encounter all creatures great and small. Here they tell us more about the micro-beasts of northern Congo – more compelling wildlife moments that could only really happen in Odzala.
Is it a wasp? Is it a moth? – By Laura.
When you visit Odzala, you’ll soon see that this area of the Congo Basin is home to a great variety of insects. Contrary to rumour, very few of them bite or sting. In fact, many of them are breathtakingly beautiful, while some are downright bizarre. When you visit Odzala, you may even find something so unusual and striking, and that it gets all the guides reaching for their reference books.
This particular insect was hard to ignore when it turned up outside the guides’ accommodation, with its curious pattern of bright wing and body colours. We all kicked into guiding mode and were soon debating its iridescence and lack of stinging parts.
Whatever it was, it seemed to be suffering from an identity crisis, unable to decide if it was a butterfly or a bug: delicate segmented wings combined with hard body armour. For once, our books failed us, and it was time to turn to the internet, entering such scientifically precise search terms as “butterfly beetle” or “stripy butterfly wasp”.
Eventually we arrived at an answer. May we introduce to you, the waspmoth (Euchromia polymena). Despite being so moth-like insect, it is active by day – rather like a wasp. Despite its bright colouration, we have never had another sighting, so we’ve categorised it as “amazing yet elusive”.
It’s just one of the many flying works of art that can you could encounter when you explore Odzala. A place that can confound attempts at classification, but which always exceeds expectations. This is after all the land of the dwarf crocodile and the giant forest hog!