Cayman Cicadas

Each island has its own endemic Cicada species –

Grand Cayman Cicada – Diceroprocta cleavesi

Little Cayman Cicada – Diceroprocta caymanensis

Cayman Brac Cicada – Diceroprocta ovata

Order: Hemiptera, Family: CICADIDAE

The species are morphologically very similar, differing principally in their colouration, and they are allied to D. biconia from Cuba.

Diceroprocta cleavesi Aug.13-05 AS

Grand Cayman Cicada – Diceroprocta cleavesi

Photo: Ann Stafford, Grand Cayman, Aug. 13, 2005

Cicadas are locally called ‘crickets’ . The male Cicadas’ ‘song’ is a high-pitched buzzing sound. Female Cicadas lay their eggs in the bark of a twig. When the eggs hatch, the nymphs drop to the ground. They burrow with their front legs, which are enlarged for tunneling, and they live underground, feeding on roots. When they are ready for their fifth and final molt, they dig their way out to the surface and climb a short distance on to a plant to which they anchors themselves.  The winged adults emerge in July and August, leaving the empty nymph case attached to the plant.

Diceroprocta cleavesi Aug5-02 AS

Adult Cicada, just emerged from its nymph exoskeleton.

Photo: Ann Stafford, Grand Cayman, Aug. 5, 2002.

Cicadas collected in gthe Cayman Islands by the Oxford University Biological Expedition of 1938

Davis, William T. 1939  Journal of the New York Entomological Society, vol. 47, no. 3, pages 207-213

Diceroprocta ovata May1-11 WP

Cayman Brac Cicada – Diceroprocta ovata

Photo: Wallace Platts, Cayman Brac, May 1, 2011.

Cicadas (of Florida) :

Life Cycle

All cicada nymphs live in underground burrows, where they feed on xylem sap from roots of grasses, forbs, or woody plants. Xylem sap is low in nutrients, which helps account for the minimum duration of nymphal development being several years. All cicadas molt four times underground. When the last nymphal instar is ready to molt, it makes its way to the surface, climbs a short distance up a tree trunk or herb stem, anchors itself with its tarsal claws, molts for the fifth time, and becomes an adult. Its nymphal shell remains as evidence of its transition from a confined life underground to aerial freedom. Adult cicadas are strong fliers and visually alert. Most species spend their lives in trees, where males call, males and females mate, and females lay their eggs by inserting them into the woody tissue of small branches. Some cicadas feed on and lay eggs primarily in grasses and forbs. Adults regularly feed on xylem sap both by day and at night, but are short-lived, seldom living more than a few weeks.

Diceroprocta cleavesi nymph cases Aug7-11_129 AS

Three empty Grand Cayman Cicada nymph exoskeletons on Wild White Beach Lily leaves (Hymenocallis latifolia) on the beach at Barkers National Park, West Bay, Aug. 7, 2011.

Cicada from Grand Cayman, Staten Island Museum

Type specimen – Diceroprocta cleavesi.

Caribbean Cicada Killer Wasp / Mangrove Giant – Sphecius hogardii


Caribbean and Florida

Cicada Killer Wasp1985 Jun26-12 ASCaribbean Cicada Killer Wasp / Mangrove Giant – Sphecius hogardii

Oxford University Cayman Islands Biological Expedition 1938 collected on Aug. 5, 1938 (5.VIII.1938) but was not identified at that time. This specimen is in the National Trust for the Cayman Islands Insectarium, collected in 1985.
Photo: Ann Stafford,  June 26, 2012.

Sphecius hogardii wasp Jun15-12 S.Barwick_t.bmp

Cicada Killer Wasp – Sphecius hogardii   Photo: Simon Barwick, Grand Cayman, June 15, 2012.

Cicada Killer Wasp NT_NL Dec.2012_tUnraveling a Wasp Mystery

National Trust for the Cayman Islands Newsletter, December, 2012

1938 Oxford University Expedition to the Cayman Islands

1938 Oxford University Expedition to the Cayman Islands – pictures

Improved Key to New World Species of Sphecius

(Hymenoptera: Crabronidae)  C.W. Holliday and Coelho

Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 99(5): 793-798 (2006)

Prof. Chuck Holliday is now retired and has shut down his Cicada Killer Wasp website

10 Facts about Cicada Killer Wasps

Yes, these wasps kill cicadas1. it works like this:

    1. The adult female wasp will paralyze the cicada with her venomous sting.
    2. The wasp will carry the cicada to a burrow, where it will place the cicada.
    3. The wasp will lay an egg under the left or right second leg of the cicada.
    4. The egg hatches, and the larvae begins to eat the cicada, while taking care to keep it alive.
    5. Once the larvae has had its fill, it spins a cocoon, in which it will change into an adult wasp.
  • Female wasps are able to predetermine the sex of their larvae.1 They must do this because it takes more females to create new generations of wasps, than it does males.
  • Cicada Killer Wasps belong to the family Crabronidae Latreille, 1802; the tribe Bembicini Latreille, 1802 and the genus Sphecius Dahlbom, 1843 2. Crabronidae comes from the Latin word for hornet, Bembicini comes from the Greek word for buzzing insect, and Sphecius is from the Greek word for wasp.
  • Not all Sphecius wasps in the world kill cicadas, but all Sphecius in the New World (the Americas) do 3.
  • If you haven’t seen a Cicada Killer Wasp, they are large black and pale yellow wasps, and are often found carrying a cicada (see image on this page).
  • Cicada Killer Wasps are often confused with European Wasps (Vespa crabro). European Wasps are a more vibrant yellow color, and feature more yellow than back. They also belong to an entirely different family of wasp: Vespidae.
  • There are five species of Cicada Killer Wasps in the Americas……

S. hogardii, the Caribbean cicada killer, is found in Florida, and the Caribbean nations.


1975 Royal Society – CI Gov. Little Cayman Expedition

Joint Royal Society and Cayman Islands Government Expedition to Little Cayman in 1975, when the island was little known scientifically.

Team of scientists:
D.R. Stoddart (Cambridge): geomorphology, leader
R.R. Askew (Manchester): entomology
A.W. Diamond (Nairobi): orthnithology
M.E.C. Giglioli (George Town): marine studies and liaison
M.V. Hounsome (Manchester) land fauna other than insects
G.W. Potts (Plymouth: marine ecology
G.R. Proctor (Kingston): botany
C. Woodruffe (Cambridge): Mangroves (part-time)

2015 is the 40th. Anniversary of the 1975 Little Cayman Expedition (July and August).

Atoll Research Bulletin
241. Geography and Ecology of Little Cayman
Edited by D.R. Stoddart and M.E.C. Giglioli
Issued by The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. U.S.A.
March, 1980

241. Geography and Ecology of Little Cayman

Caribbean Sea

Caribbean Sea

Little Cayman is the smallest of the three Cayman Islands, emergent sections of the Cayman Ridge along the northern margin of the Cayman Trench between the Sierra Maestra of Cuba and the coast of Belize. The Trench itself is 1700 km long, and has maximum depths south of the Cayman Islands of more than 6000 m. Little Cayman lies 230 km from Cabo Cruz, Cuba; the same distance from the nearest point of Jamaica; and 740 km from the mainland of Yucatan. The Caymans themselves are well separated from each other: Little Cayman is 117 km ENE from Grand Cayman, though only 7.5 km from Cayman Brac.

Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands

Little Cayman’s permanent population consisted of 18 people in 1975.

Little Cayman and Cayman Brac - the Sister Islands (Acorn Publishing Co Ltd 2013)

Little Cayman and Cayman Brac –                       the Sister Islands
(Acorn Publishing Co Ltd 2013)

David R. Stoddart (Cambridge): geomorphology, leader

David R. Stoddart

David R. Stoddart

Little Cayman Atoll Research Bulletin No.241 1980

Atoll Research Bulletin March 1980. No. 241. Geography and Ecology of Little Cayman.
Edited by D.R. Stoddart and M.E.C. Giglioli
Issued by the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA

Little Cayman Scientific Survey 1980

Marco E.C. Giglioli (George Town): marine studies and liaison

Marco Giglioli

Marco Giglioli

The Mosquito Research & Control Unit (MRCU) was established in 1965 when Marco Giglioli arrived from London with instructions ‘to establish a laboratory and conduct research with a view to advising the Cayman Government on suitable methods of control.’

Mosquito Research and Control Unit
Mosquito Research and Control Unit

G.W. Potts (Plymouth: marine ecology

Little Cayman Littoral Fishes

George R. Proctor (Kingston): botany

George R. Proctor

George R. Proctor

Little Cayman Plants Proctor 1980

Michael V. Hounsome (Manchester) land fauna other than birds and insects


Little Cayman Terrestrial Fauna Hounsome

Richard R. Askew (Manchester): entomology

R. R. Askew

R. R. Askew

Little Cayman Insect fauna

Little Cayman is seldom mentioned in entomological literature. The 1938 Oxford University Biological Expedition spent thirteen days on the island and reports on the resulting collection deal with Odonata (Fraser, 1943), water-bugs (Hungerford, 1940), Nemoptera (Banks, 1941), cicadas (Davis, 1939), Carabidae (Darlington, 1947), Cerambycidae (Fisher, 1941, 1948), butterflies (Carpenter and Lewis, 1943) and Sphingidae (Jordan, 1940). During the 1975 expedition, insects of all orders were studied, over a period of about five weeks, and many additions will eventually be made to the island’s species list. At present, however, identification of the insects collected has, with the exception of the butterflies which have been considered separately, proceeded in the majority of cases as far as the family level. Application of the family names for the most part follows Borror and DeLong (1966). In this paper the general characteristics of the insect fauna are described.

Anthony W. Diamond (Nairobi): orthnithology

A. W. Diamond

A. W. Diamond

Little Cayman Birds

Ecology and species turnover of the birds of Little Cayman

1980a Atoll Research bulletin 241: 141- 164

The Red-footed Booby colony on Little Cayman; size, structure and significance

1980b Atoll Research bulletin 241: 165 -170


Colin Woodruffe (Cambridge): Mangroves

Colin Woodroffe

Colin Woodroffe

By David R. Stoddart
Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.

Be of Good Cheer… David Stoddart

Cayman Islands Natural History and Biogeography

Cayman Islands Natural History  and Biogeography

The Rarest Snail in the World

by Pat Shipman


….That’s how we learned about Cerion nanus, the rarest snail in the world. That’s a big claim for a little snail only about a centimeter long. Cerion is a common genus of air-breathing land snails in the West Indies and the Florida Keys. Different species within the genus either have no common name or are lumped together as “peanut snails” for their general shape. The most common species on Little Cayman, Cerion pannosum, is everywhere: on grasses, bushes and trees, and lying dead on the beach. The second species on Little Cayman, C. nanus, is a most uncommon snail. When we read about C. nanus in Mike Hounsome’s chapter on terrestrial invertebrates in The Cayman Islands, we were hooked. As a young man, Mike had participated in the joint Royal Society and Cayman Islands Government Expedition to Little Cayman in 1975, when the island was little known scientifically.

…Not only did Maynard conclude that Cerion nanus existed in a single, small population, he also found it almost exclusively on one plant species now known as Evolvulus squamosus. Also called the rockyplains dwarf morning glory, the species is patchily distributed on Little Cayman but also lives on many other Caribbean islands and in Florida. Maynard pronounced C. nanus “dwarfed to an extreme degree, from feeding on the pungent leaves of the plant described.” At only about half the length of C. pannosum, C. nanus seemed to compete with the larger, more ubiquitous snail.

Evolvulus sqamosus

Crab Bush – Evolvulus squamosus

Crab Bush – Evolvulus squamosus, Family: CONVOLVULACEAE, Endangered.
A knee-high, brushy shrub with minute leaves and white flowers. Little Cayman and the Bahamas.
It is the sole host of the diminutive land-snail, Cerion nanus, Critically Endangered Little Cayman endemic.
Photo: Ann Stafford, Grand Cayman (introduced from Little Cayman), June 9, 2002.
Flora of the Cayman Islands by George R. Proctor, 2012 p.541, Pl.51.
9. Cerion nanus (Maynard) (Mollusca: CERIONIDAE) on Little Cayman

by M.V. Hounsome and R.R. Askew

Butterflies of the Cayman Islands 2008 by R.R. Askew and P.A. van B. Stafford

Butterflies of the Cayman Islands 2008 by R.R. Askew and P.A. van B. Stafford

Butterflies of the Cayman Islands R.R. Askew and P.A. van B. Stafford

Butterflies of the Cayman Islands R.R. Askew and P.A. van B. Stafford

Butterflies of the Cayman Islands book
R. R. Askew and P. A. van B. Stafford
published by Apollo Books Nov. 2008, available locally at
National Trust for the Cayman Islands, Dart Family Park, South Church St, Grand Cayman – US$30.00 or CI$24.00,
and local book stores.

FLORA of the Cayman IslandsFLORA of the CAYMAN ISLANDS by George R. Proctor, 2nd. Edition 2012,
published by Royal Botanic Gardens, KEW, was launched on Oct. 22, 2012.
The book is available for purchase, price CI$30, at the National Trust for the Cayman Islands and local bookstores.
The Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac) support 415 native taxa
in a land area little over 100 square miles, 29 of which are uniquely Caymanian.
Accessible and informative, this field guide satisfies the needs of the professional botanist,
while providing the non-expert and eco-tourist with an attractive introduction to the unique endemic flora of the Cayman Islands.
724 pages | 400 color plates, 250 line drawings | 6 x 9 1/5 | © 2012

Grand Cayman Nature Tours

Flora Gallery:

CaymANNature Flora

CaymANNature Flora_2

CaymANNature Herbarium

A Photographic Guide to the BIRDS of the CAYMAN ISLANDS by Patricia E. Bradley and Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet 2013

A Photographic Guide to the BIRDS of the CAYMAN ISLANDS
by Patricia E. Bradley and Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet 2013

Mangrove Skipper - Phocides pigmalion, R.R. Askew, Little Cayman, Jan. 23, 2008

Mangrove Skipper – Phocides pigmalion,
R.R. Askew, Little Cayman, Jan. 23, 2008

Mangrove Skipper – Phocides pigmalion batabano, Family: HESPERIIDAE nectaring on Sea Lavender – Argusia gnaphalodes Family: BORAGINACEAE.  This Mangrove Skipper subspecies is known from Andros in the Bahamas, Cuba, the Isle of Pines and Little Cayman. It has not been recorded on Grand Cayman or Cayman Brac. Photo: R.R. Askew, Little Cayman, Jan. 23, 2008. Butterflies of the Cayman Islands book, 2008 , by R. R. Askew and P. A. van B. Stafford, p.115.

Cayman Islands Dragonflies and Damselflies

Dragonflies and Damselflies are called Needlecases in Cayman.

Bulletin of American ODONATOLOGY Vol. 5, Number 2,  20 January, 1998 Odonata of the Cayman Islands A Review by R.R. Askew, Richard Prosser and Phillip S. Corbet

Odonata CI, Askew, Prosser, Corbet 1998

Damselflies and Dragonflies Order: Odonata – about

Dragonflies & Damselflies – about Nov.19-10

Cayman Islands Dragonflies & Damselflies checklist Feb.12. 2016

Dragonflies & Damselflies Feb.12-16

Anax junius Jun.2006 JGCommon Green Darner – Anax junius, Family: AESHNIDAE (Darners). Photo taken by Jennifer Godfrey June, 2006.

Coryphaeschna adnexa - Blue-faced Darner, new PD Dec22-13Blue-faced Darner – Coryphaeschna adnexa     

New Cayman Record – Peter Davey, Dec. 22, 2013

Blue-faced Darner Jan.9-16 PD

Blue-faced Darner – Coryphaeschna adnexa 

Peter Davey, Pedro St. James quarry, Grand Cayman, Jan. 9, 2016

Mangrove Darner - Coryphaeschna viriditas, female Sep.28-10 PD

Mangrove Darner – Coryphaeschna viriditas, female,

Peter Davey, Grand Cayman, Sept. 28, 2010

Celithemis eponina Feb24-11 PD_44Halloween Pennant – Celithemis eponina, Family: LIBELLULIDAE (Common Skimmers),   NEW Cayman Islands RECORD, Photo Peter Davey Feb.24, 2011, Pedro St. James quarry, Grand Cayman.

Erythrodiplax umbrata, male, Frank Sound Aug.29-05 DBBand-winged Dragonlet – Erythrodiplax umbrata, male, Family: LIBELLULIDAE (Common Skimmers).    Photo: Denise Bodden, Frank Sound, Aug. 29, 2005.

Marl Pennant dragonfly – Macrodiplax balteata, Family: LIBELLULIDAE (Common Skimmers).   Photo: Peter Davey Nov. 2010

Three-striped Dasher – Micrathyria didyma, Family: LIBELLULIDAE.       Photo: Peter Davey, Nov.22, 2010

Orthemis ferruginea, m, Frank Sound Aug.29-05 DBRoseate Skimmer – Orthemis ferruginea, male, Family: LIBELLULIDAE.     Photo: Denise Bodden, Frank Sound, Aug.29, 2005.

Ischnura ramburii Nov9-10 PD_145Rambur’s Forktail damselflies mating, Ischnura ramburii Family: COENAGRIONIDAE (Narrow-winged Damselflies, Pond Damsels).     Photo: Peter Davey Nov. 2010

ranbur's Forktail. Female Rambur’s Forktail damselfly – Ischnura ramburii, Family: COENAGRIONIDAE (Narrow-winged Damselflies, Pond Damsels). Photo: Peter Davey Nov. 2010

Insects of the Cayman Islands by R.R. Askew

CaymANNature photos

West Indian Odonata   Compiled by Dennis Paulson

Cayman Nature Tours

Cayman’s One Mile Sea Swim: 30th. Anniversary, June 23, 2015

by Ann Stafford, a founder member of the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association

Cayman’s first One Mile Swim Swim was held on June 23, 1985.

1970’s Swim Meets held in the sea

In the early 1970’s the Annual Lions Club Swim Meets were held in the sea. John Stafford, former captain of his school swimming club, encouraged his sons, Peter and John Michael, to swim and sail.Inter-primary school swim meets were held in the Sea View Hotel pool.

1980 First Three Mile Sea Swim

In October 1980 Raglan Roper sponsored and organized a Three Mile Sea Swim during Pirates Week, from the George Town dock to Galleon Beach Hotel. The Pirates Week 3 Mile (later 5K – 3.1 miles) Sea Swim became an annual event.

1985 First One Mile Sea Swim

In 1985, there being no good answer to the question asked by Peter Stafford, a keen swimmer, “Why can’t we have a swimming event shorter than 3 Miles?” the first One Mile Sea Swim was held. It was sponsored by John Stafford and organized by Ann Stafford and the embryonic swimming association, with tremendous help from the Cayman Islands Amateur Athletic Association.

1985 First One Mile Sea
Parents walking along the beach.
L to R: Anne Tyler (Squash), Laurice Fraser, mother of subsequent Olympic swimmers Shaune and Brett Fraser (London 2012 Olympics) and Louise Leslie (Squash).

1985 Winner of the First Cayman Islands One Mile Sea Swim was
Reg Koster.
The Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association was subsequently formed. Reg was its first President.

1985 The First One Mile Sea Swim, Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman.
L to R: Ann Stafford, Miss Cayman Edith Yates, and James Bettany.

1985 The First One Mile Sea Swim in the Cayman Islands was held on June 23.
It was initiated and sponsored by the Stafford family
and organized with the help of the Cayman Islands Amateur Athletics Association.
L to R: Peter Stafford, John Stafford,
Miss Cayman Edith Yates who presented the trophies,
and John Michael Stafford.

1985 Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association founded (CIASA)

Subsequently, it was suggested that a Swimming Association be established so that it could run its own events. The Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association was formed in 1985. Over the years, CIASA added and organized more annual Sea Swims of different distances, including several annual Half Mile (later 800m) events, One Mile, Two Mile and Three Mile Sea Swims (later 5K).

12 founder members October 20, 1985:

Leon Jackson (Cayman Brac – Youth and Community Worker), Rosalind Wilson (Cayman Brac – Spot Bay Primary School Primary School Deputy  Headmistress, Clare Joy, Gerry Harper (P.E. teacher), Derek Banks, (cartograpgher), Reg Koster (High School teacher), Alfred Ebanks (Customs Officer), Jan Pereira (Primary School teacher), Peter van B. Stafford (Law student), P. Ann van B. Stafford, Laura Ribbins (Fitness and Aquatics instructor), Douglas Bickerton (High School teacher)

CIASA Directors and Officers: March 20, 1986

President: Reg Koster

Vice-President: Ann Stafford

Secretary: Clare Joy

Treasurer: Tony Hale

Captain: Peter Stafford

Publicity Officer: Sue Hale

Cayman Islands Swimming

The Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association (CIASA) is a volunteer, not for profit association dedicated to furthering the interests of all aquatic sports in the Cayman Islands.
CIASA is the recognized Governing Body of aquatic sports in the Cayman Islands and is a member of FINA, UANA, CCCAN and the CIOC.

1986 Lions Aquatic Centre 25 meter pool opened

the largest pool on the island.

1986-1992 Lobster Pot One Mile Sea Swim

In 1986 the 2nd. Annual – 1st. Lobster Pot One Mile Sea Swim was held. The Lobster Pot restaurant sponsored the swim for 7 years, then in 1993 Flowers took over the sponsorship of the 9th. annual One Mile Sea Swim.

One Mile Sea Swim Winners 1985-2005

1993 to present – Flowers One Mile Sea Swim

In 1993 the 9th. Annual one mile swim became the 1st. Flowers One Mile Sea Swim, sponsored by the Flowers family.

Flowers Sea Swim

The Cayman Islands, located in the beautiful Caribbean Sea with crystal clear waters, white sands and warm weather all year, is the perfect location for outdoor water sports. Over two decades ago, against such an ideal backdrop, the tradition of the Flowers One Mile Sea Swim began. As the event swims into its 23rd year on June 13, 2015, we invite you to participate in what has come to be considered a must-do event for open water aficionados and has been named one of the World’s Top 13 Open Water Swims.

The Flowers Sea Swim is Grand Cayman’s flagship sporting event. Last event’s race boasted over 900 registrants. Participants vary in age from 8 to 80 years old and in skill from novices and first-timers to gold medal Olympians and world championship open water specialists from around the globe. The Flowers Sea Swim welcomes Swimmers from all strokes of life!

The unique draw of the Flowers Sea Swim is not only its flawless course conditions along Cayman’s beautiful Seven Mile Beach, but the numerous random prizes. The race is the world’s richest open water event with over $100,000 in cash and random prizes. The odds to win a random prize are 1-in-5 and previous giveaways have included blackberries, Ipad’s, hotel stays, and dozens of airline tickets to premier destinations such as Miami, New York, Panama, Rome, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, London, Dublin, Rio De Janerio, and Toronto. All finishers receive a fantastic t-shirt and goody bag filled with prizes and surprises!

The Walk & Watch program will also be offered again. Ideal for the non-swimmer who wants to be able to take part in the excitement of the Flowers Mile and contribute to a worthy cause at the same time.

All registration proceeds are donated to the Special Olympics, Cayman Islands

Hurricane Ivan Remembered

10th. Anniversary of Category 5 storm, Grand Cayman,

Sept.11 and 12, 2004

10pm Sat. Sept.11 18.3N 80W 105 miles (170 Km) SE of Grand Cayman 165mph WNW 8mph 26.87in.910 mb. 4am Sun. Sept. 12 18.6N 80.8W 55 miles SSE of Grand Cayman. Cat.4/5 155mph WNW 9mph 27.11in./918mb 5am Wind from NE. Storm surge from North Sound 7am Sun. Sept.12 no update available from Radio Cayman 10am Sun. Sept. 12 19N 81.5W 30 miles SW of Grand Cayman 155mph, higher gusts 170 mph and higher, another storm surge – from South Sound. 8 – 10ft storm surge, plus 20 – 30 ft waves on top of 10 ft surge, WNW 9 mph 27.14in./919mb Centre of EYE within 21 miles SW of Grand Cayman, EYE-WALL 7 miles off our coast. Grand Cayman in the NE quadrant – the worst. Hurricane Hunter plane. Hurricane Force winds extend 90 miles from centre Tropical Storm Force winds extend 175 miles from centre 4pm Sun. Sept.12 19.3N 82.5W 225mile SE of W. tip of Cuba 150 mph WNW 10 mph 27.05in./916mb

Emerald Eyes Hyatt, NS Oct29-04 tFirst storm surge, from North Sound

Sun. Sept. 12, 2004 5am The wind came from the NE, the first storm surge came from North Sound.
Emerald Eyes party-boat that was moored in the Hyatt canal, rose with the storm surge from North Sound and, when the water receded, come to rest atop about 6 cars in the Hyatt Hotel staff car-park, squashing some of them.

SS car on wall,  Oct.10-04 tSecond storm surge, from South Sound

Sun. Sept. 12, 2004, 10am 19N 81.5W 30 miles SW of Grand Cayman wind 155mph, gusts 170 mph and higher, WNW 9 mph 27.14in./919mb. There is a second storm surge, this time from South Sound. 20 – 30 ft waves on top of 8-10 ft surge.

Hurricane IVAN 2004   more photos….

Hurricane IVAN Dec. 5, 2004

a personal account by P. Ann van. B. Stafford

2004 Hurricane Season

2004 was a very active hurricane season, the pattern has changed from that of the previous 5 or so years. We prepared well for Hurricane Charley, it was heading straight at us, but passed 20 miles to the north of us on 12 Aug. with 90 mph winds. ‘Cayman dodged the bullet’ said Dr Steve Lyons of the US Weather Channel.


Hurricane Ivan was a different story. We prepared solidly again – for 3 days. As it approached us with 165 mph winds, and the 6th. lowest recorded barometric pressure of Atlantic basin hurricanes – 910 millibars/26.87 in., it was forecast to go north of us again, but it didn’t. The centre of the eye was within 21 miles SW of Grand Cayman, the eye-wall 7 miles off our coast.

Catastrophic Destruction

We were in the NE quadrant, (the worst). Ivan caused catastrophic destruction; it also spawned tornadoes. 95% of homes were damaged to a greater or lesser extent, a quarter beyond repair. Surprisingly, only one or two people died during the storm, but a lot of people have died subsequently. Surviving the hurricane is one thing, surviving the stress of the aftermath is another. Some people have lost everything, their homes, clothing & belongings, vehicles and livelihoods. There were many damaged roofs, salt-water flooded houses and businesses, boats where they shouldn’t be, ripped up roads, or sand dunes covering roads. There was extensive flooding, no electricity, no running water, (except from leaking roofs), no food to buy, no telephones, no internet, no TV, no connection with the outside world, no banks nor shops functioning, no traffic lights, no street lights, downed power lines, fallen trees everywhere, no leaves, no shade, fewer vehicles, homeless and jobless people, and debris everywhere.

Storm surge, first from North Sound, then from South Sound

At 5 am on Sunday the storm surge came from the North Sound, then 5 hours later from South Sound, 8 – 10ft storm surge, plus 20 – 30 ft waves on top of 10 ft surge, the storm came from WNW at 9 mph and the pressure rose to 919mb/27.14in. Some places were affected by both surges as well as by sewage. There were tons of sand in houses & on roads.

Cayman Sister Yacht Dr Sep26-04

Damage, survival, insurance

Tyres punctured, there were no repairers initially. Businesses had to change location, like musical chairs, cell phone replaced landlines, but there’s no directory for cell phones. Life focused on survival, insurance estimates, claims, adjusters, and hopefully payments. Our insurance adjuster has adjusted after 16 hurricanes. I asked him how he would rate Ivan. He said it’s right up there with Hurricane Andrew – southern Florida, 1992.

No schools

Accommodation for the homeless, rich & poor alike, was, and still is, a problem. Out of a population of some 45,000 people, 15,000 people left, many not returning. No schools were functioning, many children left the island to go to school in different parts of the world, many, including our three 14 yr old granddaughters, to Canada.


There is a shortage of supplies and repairers. When people asked me how we fared, I say as a family, both good and bad. One son & his family were very badly hit. His house had his neighbour’s roof puncture his roof & let in the hurricane, so it’s uninhabitable. Repairs have begun, but it’s a painfully slow business. The sea gutted his rental apartments and damaged the Sailing Club and boats at his workplace. He’s been finding boats that floated far away. We got our electricity back 2 weeks after Ivan, but some people have only just got theirs restored, after 3 months. Some wiring is still too badly damaged to restore yet.


It’s going to take a lot of money to repair the island. It won’t return to how it was before, expanding too rapidly. Like the trees, it’s been severely pruned and will grow back stronger, but more compact, I think. Cayman has been ivanized (my word) – a greater resilience to life’s corrosiveness. One thing we all have been acquiring is patience. Repairs on our house won’t start until next year. We will have to move out of our house for a while.

Birds and ButterfliesQueen on Red Top Nov.21-04 AS

There’s almost no birdsong, there are so few birds, either they didn’t survive the hurricane or died of starvation – no fruits or nectar flowers or bugs to eat. One Bird Club member said that as high as 95% of our resident birds have perished. We get a lot of migratory birds in the fall and spring. The heavy rains after Ivan washed away the salt. After a while, new leaves appeared from the bottom of the trees upwards and outwards along the bare branches. Flowers began to bloom. Butterflies appeared one by one, and now there is an explosion of butterflies, it’s just amazing and a joy to see. There are fewer birds to eat them or their caterpillars and less insect spraying. All the big trees in our garden fell, you couldn’t see any lawn. After a lot of chain-sawing and weeks of clearing away, some are growing back, some are gone for good, so now there’s more light and space for other, more desirable plants, especially indigenous small trees/shrubs that don’t grow too big or too fast. Our garden is looking different, but is colourful and blooming. The weather is delightful, sunny and windy and not too humid.



Recovery is a long, slow process. Cruise ships have started coming back. Some hotels are opening for our tourist high season – mid-December.

2004 IVAN Furore Oct29-04The storm surge came first from the North Sound. The surge came down the Hyatt canal. Furore at the Hyatt Hotel. Photo: Ann Stafford, Oct. 29, 2004.

2004 IVAN SS road, trench, Casuarina Sep21-04South Sound Road was washed away by the second storm surge, this time from the south. The road reverted to beach. A trench was cut across to drain the land. Photo: Ann Stafford, Sept.21, 2004.

2004 IVAN track Sept 2-24Hurricane Ivan track Sept. 2 to 24, 2004.

Hurricane IVAN 2004   photos

Deep Blue Images – Hurricane Ivan Remembered   photos

Astrocasia, Chascotheca and Chinese Lantern

Flowers without petals
Family: EUPHORBIACEAE (subfamily Phyllanthoideae) / PHYLLANTHACEAE

Astrocasia tremula (Griseb.) G.L. Webster
Dioecious arborescent glabrous shrub or small tree.
Leaves Alternate on long slender petioles, pinnate-veined, whitish-glaucous on the underside, often deciduous before flowering.

Astrocasia tremula Nov24-02 ASAstrocasia tremula

Chascotheca neopeltandra (Griseb.) Urb. synonym C. domingensis
Dioceous shrub, branchlets with horizontal frond-like habit;
Leaves Alternate, 3 veined from the base, petioles 2-6mm long, blades 1-4cm long, pale or glaucous beneath
Grand Cayman, Cuba and Hispaniola in rocky limestone thickets

Chasco neopeltandra fr IF Mar25-08_300 ASChascotheca neopeltandra

Phyllanthus nutans ssp. nutans Sw. Chinese Lantern
Monoecious shrub
Leaves Alternate, always pinnate-veined, short-petiolate, blades up to 8 cm long, often somewhat glaucous or purple-tinged beneath.
Grand Cayman, Jamaica and the Swan Islands, in various habitats, the Cayman plants in dry, rocky woodlands

Phyllanthus nutans fr. R. Wreck Tr. 4Jul02 ASPhyllanthus nutans ssp. nutans

Click here for details and pictures:

Astrocasia, Chascotheca and Chinese Lantern

Chequered Swallowtail, Lime Swallowtail – Papilio demoleus in the Cayman Islands

Papilio demoleus Linnaeus, 1758, was photographed in West Bay, Grand Cayman, in the NW Caribbean on May 29, 2011.

Papilio demoleus May29-11_780 DVPhoto: Dora Valdez, May 29, 2011

A specimen was captured by Dr. R. R. Askew at East End on Feb. 18, 2014.

Papilio demoleus EE Feb18-14 MLA_329 tPhoto: M. L. Askew, Feb.18, 2014

There were no sightings reported in the intervening years. How did this Old World butterfly species get to the New World?

 How did Papilio demoleus get to Cayman?

P. Ann van B. Stafford, Feb. 24 2014

There are links to the relevant documentation:

Between 1994 and 2004  island of St. Martin / Sint Maarten

2004 Dominican Republic

2006 Puerto Rico

2006 Jamaica

2007 Cuba