Blue Morphos: From Farm to Fairchild

Monday, June 3, 2013

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 livinghost-plants and protected by fine mesh bags Once fully grown the mature caterpillars arereturned to a cage in the lab to pupate Blue Morpho pupae home at Fairchild And an adult Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides)...

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Searching for new nectar plant species

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

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 ...

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Hiking in paradise

Monday, May 27, 2013

Heliconia orthotricha. Podocarpus National Park, covering 1,400 square kilometers or more than 900 square miles, in southern Ecuador, has spectacular plant and animal diversity -- more than 600 species of birds and 4,000 species of plants, 40 percent of which are endemic. So biologically rich, the park is called "the botanical garden of the Americas." Hiking here is one of life's great pleasures if you are nature nut like me. Butterfly on Miconia leaf. Philodendrons, ferns,...

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Another night in the forest

Sunday, May 26, 2013

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 ...

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A walk in the forest

Saturday, May 25, 2013

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. Martin...

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Roadside beauty in Ecuador

Friday, May 24, 2013

Swallowtail puddling to sipminerals. An astonishing number of flowers sparkle from the sides of a dirt road here is southern Ecuador. Bromeliads, gesneriads, palms and heliconias along with birds and butterflies. A huge orange flower of a liana called Guarnia dangled from its stem. Inside hairy orange bracts are tubular yellow corollas, making the whole cluster stand out among the foliage. Called a jungle cucumber, the flowers are pollinated by heliconias butterflies. Fuchsia and ...

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Orchid Hunting in the Andes

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Crossing the Andes, we find Puya clava-herculis in bloom at the highest elevations, their aquamarine flowers the same color as those of the jade vine. Now the hunt to find and photograph orchids becomes the obsession of the day -- but Marie and Steve Nock, who are our travel companions, are searching for aroids as well. Puya clava-herculis Sobralia rosea lifts large lavender and rose flowers everywhere we look. A terrestrial Habenaria species shows off little white flowers surrounding an ...

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Nocturnal surveying at Estacion Pitilla

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

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 ...

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Traveling in Ecuador

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fog followed us from the coastal city of Guayaquil to some 8,000 or 9,000 feet into the Andes. On a tour to see orchids and aroids in their natural habitats in Ecuador, we could make out enormous anthuriums in the mist, a few bright orange Erythrina flowers, along with bright yellow epidendrums, but not much else. In Cajas National Park, however, the clouds were below us and the paramo stretched across the mountains as a lovely deep green skin. Just as we approached this ecosystem, we ...

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Hello El Bosque Nuevo

Monday, May 20, 2013

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! Martin Learn more about El Bosque Nuevo here:...

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