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July 2, 2012

By Jason Cryan

Research & Collections

A few years back, I was planning a fieldwork expedition to collect insect specimens at a well-known biological station (La Selva) in the rainforests of Costa Rica.  A colleague of mine, a more ‘senior’ researcher (OK, read…”old”), had been to La Selva more than 10 years earlier and told me that when I visit the station I should locate a specific rainforest path and walk to a specific mile-marker on that path where I would find a specific tree on which I would find specimens of a particularly charismatic planthopper species (the “dragon-headed bug”, Phrictus quinquepartitus).  Faced with this directive, I’ll admit that I harbored a healthy amount of skepticism.  This colleague hadn’t actually been to La Selva in more than a decade, and I thought the likelihood of finding one specific tree in the middle of a jungle was low…and even if I did, the probability…

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