Flutterings at Fairchild

 RSS Feed Signup

Rincon de la Veija Hike

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 01:08:16 PM

After a night at Rincon de la Vieja
Lodge a short drive took me to the
park entrance and the beginning of
a 5km walking trail.


Through the forest and across


Leading up towards the open, mud
pool and fumarole-dotted volcano

Spectacular trees



Tabebuia chrysantha flowering
above the forest canopy.

Emerging from the forest the trail leads past boiling mud pots, belching fumaroles and bubbling pools, the whole area reeking of hydrogen sulphide. A spectacular and dramatic landscape.




After the heat of the exposed plateau it was a pleasure to re-enter the forest with its clear streams, log-bridges, giant tree buttresses and impressive leaf-cutter ant mounds.

A truly special place preserved for all by dedicated conservation-minded folks here in Costa Rica.




A Hike Along Volcán Tenorio

Wed, Jun 05, 2013 at 08:49:15 AM

Volcán Tenorio — a beautiful and mildly strenuous
5km hike along well-defined trails skirting the
Rio Celeste on the slopes of Volcán Tenorio


Lush vegetation.
Featured: Heliconia


A species of Psychotria (great butterfly nectar plants)


Another species of Psychotria


Breathing the strong odor of hydrogen sulphide I followed the Rio Celeste past a
spectacular waterfall along a trail dotted with . . .


. . . tree ferns and palms.


Across semi-secure bridges


Until the reason for the smell and color of the
water was revealed: A fissure in the basalt of
the river bed allowing hot water saturated with
hydrogen sulphide and dissolved copper salts
to bubble up into the river


The hike revealed more than just palms, however: invisible but noisy birds and of course, beady-eyed stick insects, colorful beetles, mud-puddling butterflies and skittering lizards.





Blue Morphos: From Farm to Fairchild

Mon, Jun 03, 2013 at 02:19:24 PM

The Butterfly Walk


The Morpho breeding cage


With a lot of inhabitants


Laying eggs on their host-plant


Which are collected daily, approx. 2000 eggs per day


Michael has this task every day


Eggs are hatched in a secure cage in the laboratory


Small caterpillars are then returned to living
host-plants and protected by fine mesh bags


Once fully grown the mature caterpillars are
returned to a cage in the lab to pupate


Blue Morpho pupae home at Fairchild


And an adult Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides) butterfly
at Fairchild's The Wings of the Tropics exhibit


Searching for new nectar plant species

Tue, May 28, 2013 at 01:15:54 PM



I spent most of yesterday cruising the back-roads close to the Nicaraguan border hoping to come across new nectar plant species, but the whole lowland area is parched through lack of rain.   One spectacular sight during the day was this beautiful Guanacaste tree, Enterolobium cyclocarpum, the national tree of Costa Rica.  



Following a particularly colorful sunset, viewed from the butterfly farm, the manager and his staff had some success in our search for the beetle we are trying to bring into a sustainable captive breeding program.


Megasoma elephas , the elephant beetle, is a spectacular insect and we hope that bringing it into such a program will allow the butterfly farm to diversify somewhat.  There is definitely a demand for these wonderful beetles as live exhibits in insect zoos etc. around the country.  Shown are a minor male (with greatly shortened ‘horn’) and a female.







Another night in the forest

Sun, May 26, 2013 at 09:56:56 AM

Accompanied by a small Eco-tour group lead by the reserve manager, Ernesto Rodriguez, and our long-time friend and collaborator Mark Deering, we returned to the slopes of Volcan Orosi for another night of observations and photography.

'White witch' moth, almost 10" wingspan


The air was a little less humid, the temperature a little higher and consequently we observed many different moths and other invertebrate species coming to our lights.

A beautiful large katydid, approximately

4 inches in length.

What an amazing diversity of insects there is here, no two nights are the same; fascinating!

Harlequin beetle, Acrocinus longimanus,

trying to blend in with Ernesto's sneaker...


A walk in the forest

Sat, May 25, 2013 at 01:59:06 PM

Despite the lack of rain at this lower elevation, a morning walk in the forest reveals many interesting plants, a few of which are featured here. 



Palms of many species proliferate, interspersed with towering, yellow-flowering Tabebuia chrysantha, Bursera simaruba and a host of others which I do not recognise from their bark alone.  





Nocturnal surveying at Estacion Pitilla

Wed, May 22, 2013 at 01:49:30 PM

Nocturnal surveying at Estacion Pitilla on the slope of Volcan Orosi (at 700 meters above sea-level) using mercury vapor lights to attract all manner of insects yielded a rich diversity of beetles, moths and katydids.  Above and below are two particularly spectacular specimens.

I awoke this morning to the sound of Howler monkeys; it really is gratifying to know that the conservation efforts here at El Bosque Nuevo are having a positive effect.  This existing natural forest, and the areas being re-planted with native trees, are a haven for all manner of wildlife whose habitats are being threatened more and more by land clearance for citrus plantations.



Hello El Bosque Nuevo

Mon, May 20, 2013 at 11:23:51 AM




Welcome to El Bosque Nuevo, one of Fairchild's major butterfly suppliers. Two breeding cages, as shown below, are used to produce over 2,000 eggs of Morpho peleides every day.

The rains have not yet started here in the Guanacaste region, so nocturnal surveying for moths and beetles, starting tonight, will be focusing on the forested slopes of the Orosi volcano. Check back and see what we find tonight!



Learn more about El Bosque Nuevo here:  http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=9fe56309b82ab73b272277ca5&id=7bd6fc15f3


Welcome to Flutterings at Fairchild

Fri, May 17, 2013 at 01:48:24 PM

Did you know that Fairchild has butterfly pupae shipped from around the world nearly every day? The Wings of the Tropics exhibit is home to nearly 3,000 exotic butterflies native to Central and South America, and Asia, all of which are sent to Fairchild Garden to create this truly unforgettable paradise!

For the next week Fairchild’s exhibit Manager Martin Feather will travel to northern Costa Rica and visit one of Fairchild’s most important suppliers, El Bosque Nuevo. Join Martin on this journey and follow his posts as he surveys beetles and moths by night and searches for plants and their seeds by day in the Guanacaste region of this beautiful country.