Borneo Insects and Other Critters

This is an ongoing post of the various insects (and a few other interesting critters, i.e. leeches) we have come across in our stay in Borneo. The large majority of this have been found in, or on, our house. Many of these seem to be seasonal – we’ll see a bunch for a while, then they’ll disappear, while something new appears on the stage. On to the bugs:

Within an hour of pulling into Ranau on our first day, we discovered this guy hanging out to greet us on our neighbor’s window. We have yet to see another leaf insect of this size.

Borneo Leaf Insect

Huge leaf insect

Occasionally these elephant beetles show up, then usually die on the porch for some reason.

Borneo Elephant Beetle

Elephant Beetle

We’ve seen a few of these lantern insects recently.

Borneo Lantern Insect

Lantern insect

Cicadas seem to always be around, though we’ve noticed a huge increase around February, and lasting until April at least. They are incredibly loud, and while different species make noise at different times of the day, we seem to have enough varieties to keep most of the day covered with a formidable blanket of cicada noise. They molt at night, and we were fortunate to catch one in the middle of the process.

Borneo Molting Cicada

Cicada, molting

The empty cicada shells are found clinging to surfaces everywhere in the morning.

Borneo Molted Cicada Shell

Molted cicada shell

Borneo Cicada Shells

Cicada shells on back porch

Borneo Cicado Shells

Cicada shells on citronella leaves

We’ve seen a number of varieties of stick insects around. This one was hanging out on our porch one morning.

Borneo Stick Insect

Stick insect

This guy was hanging out on our clothes line and was at least a foot long.

Borneo Huge Stick Insect

Very long stick insect

Borneo Huge Stick Insect

Very long stick insect

We found this dead insect in the grass on the Mesilau golf course. It looks like a giant fly or bee of some sort. This thing was about the size of a badminton shuttlecock.

Borneo Insect

No idea what this is, but it was huge

Praying mantis are very common. This creepy one was on our bedroom wall one night and kept following us with its eyes and head, which was creeping us out.

Borneo Praying Mantis

Praying mantis

A mantis with a dead leaf disguise.

Borneo Leaf Mantis

Leaf Mantis

Another variety of praying mantis, on our living room wall.

Borneo Praying Mantis

Praying mantis

Periodically we get these swarms of tiny insects – bigger than gnats or fruit flies – that make their way into the house and love to swarm around the fluorescent lights in the kitchen. They then fall to the ground, though they aren’t dead. They will be raining down on you, your food, the counter, the floor, everywhere, as you are trying to make dinner. Then they just kind of sit there one the ground, walking around a bit. We’ve found that you can sweep of piles of the living, moving insects, and they won’t fly away, which at least makes it easier to sweep them out of the door. This has to be done about every 10 minutes though.

Borneo Kitchen Swarm

Swarm of tiny insects in the kitchen

Borneo Kitchen Swarm

Swarm of tiny insects in the kitchen

This large elephant beetle was hanging out on our kitchen window one night.

Rhinocerous Beetle

Elephant Beetle

A colorful caterpillar on the back porch.

Borneo Caterpiller


A bright millipede we came across in the Mulu National Park.

Borneo Millipede


Jenny found this huge millipede in the Mulu Park. I think these are the ones that are actually aggressive and will bite humans, leaving an infected wound that takes weeks to heal.

Borneo Millipede


We encountered this sexy-looking, pale, hairy grub on a hike in Bario.

Borneo Grub

Large grub

A large snail Jenny came across in the Mulu Park.

Borneo Snail

Large snail

Leeches. We had heard so much about leeches before moving here, and were concerned they would be everywhere. In fact, we’ve only encountered them a couple of times, on hikes in the remote jungle. In this case, we were on a trek in the Tawau Forest, where our friend Paul does some wildlife research. He was leading us on the trek, and very familiar with the jungle, and also apparently fairly unconcerned about leeches. These were his feet at the end of the day.

Borneo leech feet


This very large (body was about 2 inches long), scary spider was just off our back porch.

Borneo Spider

Large, scary spider

Borneo Spider

Large, scary spider

This large, meaty, formidable-looking cricket showed up on the inside of our kitchen window. Its antennae were at least 6 inches long.

Borneo Cricket
Geckos. I used to think they were cute, and they were a welcome co-habitant, as they eat all kinds of insects. Borneo has changed all that. They are everywhere, they breed like crazy, they are often a kind of repugnant fleshy color, and they shit everywhere. Gecko turds show up on the walls, on our bed, on the counters, on our plates and inside hanging pots and pans, our windowsills are covered in them, when you move furniture you find a revolting amount of gecko shit on the wall and underneath whatever you moved. They love to hide in every nook and cranny in the house and then freak you out when they suddenly come scampering out – drawers, door jambs (most of which are now plastered with smashed, mummified geckos), trash cans, cabinets, curtains, etc. And they are not even keeping the insect population anywhere near a level I would like.

Borneo Gecko Eating Moth

Gecko eating a moth