As usual, when no animals with backbones were nearby, I kept my eyes out for interesting invertebrates. I rely heavily on the good and knowledgable people at iNaturalist to help me identify these animals.
I saw many of these weird snails with very low, short (and maybe even soft?) shells. They were basically slugs that dreamt of being snails some day.
Now this is a properly shaped snail, with a fine paint job too.
Sri Lanka is home to an excellent set of endemic tarantulas in the genus Poecilotheria. (Some species of this genus are found in India also.) As the always 100% reliable Wikipedia states, "The genus is known for vivid color patterns, fast movement, and potent venom compared to other tarantulas". We found at least three Poecilotheria species.
Along the same lines, Sri Lanka is also home to an excellent set of large scorpions in the genus Heterometrus, collectively called Giant Forest Scorpions. Other species in this genus can be found throughout southeast Asia. We found at least three Heterometrus species.
Speaking of stinging things, these wasps were dangling about six feet off the ground right in the middle of a narrow trail at night. Fortunately I noticed them before I got there, since I am more than six feet tall.
Here are a few proper bugs (order Hemiptera) that I was happy to run across.
Who doesn't love a decoratively patterned assassin bug?
I saw this spotted lantern bug at a moment when I had put my camera down some distance away. I knew my lantern-bug-loving friend Kurt "Orion Mystery" G would never forgive me if I didn't get a photo, so I used my iPhone.
You might think that the best thing about these bugs is their bright colors. You might think that the best thing about these bugs is their pattern. You might think the best thing about these bugs is their friendly communal nature. But no, the best thing about these bugs is their English common name.
Our flashlights attracted this species of tiger beetle at night. They are very lightweight and flighty, at a glance looking and acting very much like large-ish flies. One individual kept landing on a small snake I was trying to photograph.
This beast was the largest caterpillar I saw in Sri Lanka, a good five inches long at least. I haven't any idea what species it belongs to.
I noticed how much of this leaf had been nibbled away, so I twisted its stem to view the bottom. I was only expecting to find a single ravenous creature, at most.
I generally don't chase butterflies and moths around for photos (or for any other reason), but if one is posing nicely I am not averse to taking a picture.
I saw several of these beautiful flightless grasshoppers.
On the other end of the visibility spectrum, here's a pair of crickets clinging to the vertical wall inside a cave. I have not been able to dig up any ID info at all for these crickets.
While we're talking camouflage, now is a good time for a few of the many leaf-mimicking katydids I saw in Sri Lanka. I love the variety of colors and "leaf" types.
As I was getting into the car to drive off from the area of Morningside Reserve, one of Chanaka's associates (is that you, Ruwan?) turned his arm to show me this passenger. It was identified on iNaturalist by Dr. Priyantha Wijesinghe, an expert in the insects of Sri Lanka (among many other things).
Dr. Priyantha Wijesinghe also identified the following katydids as a species recorded only from its original description in 1932. Huge thanks to Dr. Wijesinghe for tracking down the identity of these obscure animals. Let this serve as an advertisement for sharing knowledge of the natural world via iNaturalist.
I've had considerably less luck identifying any of the many phasmids (stick insects) I saw in Sri Lanka. If you know any experts in this area, please let me know!