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.
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...
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 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.
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
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.