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Trip Reports
Butterfly-watching Holidays
Costa Rica
July 1994
a non-profit small group tour organised and led by Adrian Hoskins

This was our second trip to Costa Rica, having organised and led a small group tour there in 1992. The trip was timed to coincide with the Costa Rican rainy season, a time when butterflies emerge en masse in the seasonally dry Guanacaste region in the north. The price to be paid of course was that the regions we visited further south were heavily inundated, so butterfly watching in these areas was confined to mornings and early afternoons, before the arrival of the torrential daily rains.

We spent the first 4 days at the American owned Rancho Naturalista at Tuis, Turrialba. The small rancho is set in mid-elevation transitional rainforest at circa 1400m altitude, with short trails through relict primary forest, secondary forest and a regenerating clearing.

On sunny mornings butterflies appeared in excellent numbers with about 95 species recorded. The highlights included Morpho helenor which patrolled regularly along the tracks, the almost fluorescent orange Dryadula phaetusa and the stunning black and orange Longwing Heliconius hecale. The most exciting species however was an immaculate dazzling iridescent blue Skipper Astraptes fulgerator, which basked in the morning sun for just long enough for one photo. A few moments earlier we had come across a group of about 30 Phoebis sennae roosting in a small bush. They made a beautiful sight, with the golden morning sunlight streaming through their wings.

At night the forest was alive with the chirping of myriads of frogs and insects. I left a tungsten lamp switched each night hoping to attract a few moths onto the verandah. Each morning we woke before dawn to investigate, and found the walls and ceiling covered in several hundred moths. The variety of shapes, cryptic patterns and bizarre resting postures adopted by the moths was amazing. There were hordes of beautiful Geometrids, masses of brightly coloured Pyralidae, lots of very attractive Tussocks, Prominents and Leopards, some stunning Hawkmoths, and a couple of Automeris Bull's-eye Silkmoths. Certainly the greatest moth bonanza in all my years of travelling. 

From Rancho Naturalista we then transferred by road to Los Innocentes, a cattle ranch set below Volcan Orosi in the dry Guanacaste region. For 4 days we were able to explore a variety of habitats including lush grassland, flowery cattle pastures, relict riverbank forest and a small orchard where fermenting fruit attracted many butterflies. Many beautiful species abounded including the Crackers Hamadryas feroniafebrua and the incredibly beautiful calico blue amphinome, all perching head-downwards on the tree trunks. Other species included the brilliant orange Dryas iulia nectaring at Lantana, a stunning blue Skipper Paches loxus, the dazzling blue Morpho helenor, and the gorgeous green and brown Malachite Siproeta stelenes

Along the muddy edges of a stream a group of Phoebis sennae congregated at cattle urine. Other puddling species included the cream-banded Queen Swallowtail Heraclides androgeus, the gorgeous Red Daggerwing Marpesia petreus, probably the most beautifully shaped butterfly in the world, and the skipper Atarnes sallei, prettily marked in white, orange and black. In addition to butterflies, Los Innocentes had helicopter damselflies, beautiful cicadas, and several huge and attractive crickets. 

Our next destination was Selva Verde, situated on the Rio Sarapiqui, and surrounded by primary and secondary forest, cattle pasture and banana and palm plantations. We had torrential rain every afternoon commencing about 3pm, but in the mornings we had about 4 hours to explore the many butterflies in the surrounding forest.

The primary forest behind the lodge was not especially productive, but across the road there were a few hectares of mildly degraded forest where dozens of beautiful species flew along the main track, and on the plethora of narrow forest trails. Among the highlights were Morpho helenor, several very attractive Pyrgine skippers, the beautiful transparent Satyrines Cithaerias pireta and Dulcedo polita, and the stunning Metalmark Eurybia lycisca, seen nectaring at Heliconia flowers. We were also very fortunate to get close to a group of Parides childrenae whose black wings are marked with patches of scarlet and metallic green. To see these lovely butterflies fluttering around bushes at the edge of the forest was certainly one of the highlights of the trip.

We rounded off the trip with a relaxing 3 days at Marenco, a coastal biological station on the Osa peninsula. Butterflies here were generally scarcer than at the other sites, but included a few species such as Pierella luna, Euptoieta hegesia and Heliconius sapho that we had not seen elsewhere.

The behaviour of Heliconius erato was fascinating to watch. We found a group of males aggressively jostling around a chrysalis, attempting to copulate with it. A frantic battle took place the instant the female hatched from the chrysalis, as all the males struggled to copulate with her, not even giving her time to expand and dry her wings. One of the males succeeded, and the mated pair then had to endure the attention of the remaining males which were extremely persistent, constantly trying to prise the pair apart. Eventually, as dusk approached, the unsuccessful males started to disperse. I found the pair again the next morning still copulated, with 2 persistent males that had returned and were continuing to harass them.

Species recorded in Costa Rica in July 1994
All species listed below were identified from photographs by Adrian Hoskins. The Papilionoidea were identified using DeVries and d'Abrera for reference. The Hesperioidea were identified using Lewis.

Site

Family

subfamily

Genus

species

Marenco

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Anatrytone

barbara

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Anatrytone

perfida

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Anthoptus

epictetus

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Callimormus

alsimo

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Callimormus

corades

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Calpodes

ethlius

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Cymaenes

tripunctus

Marenco

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Decinea

percosius

Marenco

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Nastra

julia

Marenco

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Panoquina

lucas

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Parphorus

storax

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Polites

vibex

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Saliana

placens

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Synapte

malitiosa

Marenco

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Vehilius

inca

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Hesperiinae

Vehilius

inca

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Achlyodes

busirus

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Achlyodes

busirus

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Achlyodes

mithridates

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Achlyodes

mithridates

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Aguna

asander

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Anisochoria

pedaliodina

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Antigonus

erosus

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Astraptes

alector

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Astraptes

fulgerator

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Atarnes

sallei

Marenco

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Autochton

bipunctatus

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Autochton

neis

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Autochton

neis

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Bolla

giselus

Marenco

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Chioides

catillus

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Cogia

cajeta

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Cycloglypha

thrasibulus

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Gorgythion

begga

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Grais

stigmaticus

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Helias

phalaenoides

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Heliopetes

arsalte

Marenco

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Heliopetes

arsalte

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Heliopetes

arsalte

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Heliopetes

laviana

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Heliopetes

petrus

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Paches

loxus

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Polythrix

asine

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Pyrgus

oileus

Marenco

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Pyrgus

oileus

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Pyrgus

oileus

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Pyrgus

oileus

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Sostrata

bifasciata

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Staphylus

ceos

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Staphylus

mazans

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Telemiades

amphione

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Urbanus

dorantes

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Urbanus

doryssus

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Urbanus

esmeraldus

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Urbanus

proteus

Marenco

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Urbanus

proteus

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Urbanus

proteus

Marenco

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Urbanus

simplicius

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Urbanus

simplicius

Marenco

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Urbanus

teleus

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Urbanus

teleus

R. Naturalista

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Urbanus

viterboana

Los Innocentes

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Xenophanes

tryxus

Marenco

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Xenophanes

tryxus

Selva Verde

Hesperiidae

Pyrginae

Xenophanes

tryxus

R. Naturalista

Lycaenidae

Polyommatinae

Cupido

comyntas

Los Innocentes

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Arawacus

aetolus

Marenco

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Arawacus

aetolus

R. Naturalista

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Arawacus

aetolus

Selva Verde

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Arawacus

aetolus

R. Naturalista

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Arawacus

sito

Los Innocentes

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Calycopis

isobeon

Marenco

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Calycopis

isobeon

R. Naturalista

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Calycopis

isobeon

Marenco

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Calycopis

pisis

Selva Verde

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Calycopis

pisis

Selva Verde

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Calycopis

puppius

Selva Verde

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Electrostrymon

endymion

R. Naturalista

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Laothus

barajo

Selva Verde

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Ostrinotes

halciones

R. Naturalista

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Rekoa

meton

Marenco

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Strymon

bazochii

R. Naturalista

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Strymon

megarus

R. Naturalista

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Strymon

megarus

Los Innocentes

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Strymon

mulucha

Marenco

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Strymon

rufofusca

Selva Verde

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Strymon

serapio

Los Innocentes

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Tmolus

echion

Marenco

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Tmolus

echion

R. Naturalista

Lycaenidae

Theclinae

Tmolus

echion

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Biblidinae

Biblis

hyperia

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Biblidinae

Dynamine

postverta

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Biblidinae

Eunica

mygdonia

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Biblidinae

Hamadryas

amphinome

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Biblidinae

Hamadryas

februa

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Biblidinae

Hamadryas

feronia

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Biblidinae

Hamadryas

glauconome

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Biblidinae

Marpesia

berania

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Biblidinae

Marpesia

chiron

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Biblidinae

Marpesia

petreus

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Biblidinae

Mestra

dorcas

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Biblidinae

Pyrrhogyra

otolais

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Charaxinae

Archaeoprepona

amphimachus

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Charaxinae

Archaeoprepona

amphimachus

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Charaxinae

Archaeoprepona

demophon

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Charaxinae

Archaeoprepona

demophon

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Charaxinae

Fountainea

glycerium

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Charaxinae

Memphis

forreri

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Charaxinae

Prepona

laertes

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Charaxinae

Siderone

galanthis

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Danainae

Danaus

eresimus

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Danainae

Danaus

gilippus

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Danainae

Danaus

plexippus

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Danainae

Danaus

plexippus

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Danainae

Lycorea

halia

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Agraulis

vanillae

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Agraulis

vanillae

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Dione

juno

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Dryadula

phaetusa

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Dryadula

phaetusa

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Dryas

iulia

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Dryas

iulia

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Dryas

iulia

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Dryas

iulia

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Eueides

aliphera

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Euptoieta

hegesia

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

charithonia

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

charithonia

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

charithonia

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

charithonia

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

cydno

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

cydno

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

erato

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

erato

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

erato

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

erato

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

hecale

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

hecale

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

hecale

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

hecalesia

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

ismenius

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

melpomene

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

melpomene

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

melpomene

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

sapho

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

sara

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

sara

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Heliconius

sara

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Laparus

doris

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Laparus

doris

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Laparus

doris

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Philaethria

dido

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Heliconiinae

Philaethria

dido

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Ithomiinae

Godyris

nero

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Ithomiinae

Ithomia

patilla

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Ithomiinae

Ithomia

patilla

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Ithomiinae

Mechanitis

lysimnia

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Ithomiinae

Mechanitis

lysimnia

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Ithomiinae

Mechanitis

lysimnia

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Ithomiinae

Mechanitis

menapis

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Ithomiinae

Mechanitis

menapis

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Ithomiinae

Mechanitis

polymnia

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Ithomiinae

Melinaea

lilis

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Ithomiinae

Melinaea

lilis

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Ithomiinae

Tithorea

tarricina

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Limenitidinae

Adelpha

barnesia

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Limenitidinae

Adelpha

cytherea

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Limenitidinae

Adelpha

cytherea

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Limenitidinae

Adelpha

cytherea

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Limenitidinae

Adelpha

cytherea

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Limenitidinae

Adelpha

serpa

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Limenitidinae

Adelpha

zina

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Melitaeinae

Microtia

elva

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Morphinae

Antirrhea

philoctetes

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Morphinae

Antirrhea

philoctetes

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Morphinae

Antirrhea

pterocopha

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Morphinae

Caligo

atreus

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Morphinae

Caligo

brasiliensis

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Morphinae

Caligo

telamonius

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Morphinae

Eryphanis

automedon

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Morphinae

Mimoblepia

staudingeri

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Morphinae

Morpho

helenor

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Morphinae

Morpho

helenor

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Morphinae

Morpho

helenor

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Morphinae

Morpho

helenor

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Morphinae

Opsiphanes

cassina

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Morphinae

Opsiphanes

tamarindi

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Nymphalinae

Anartia

fatima

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Nymphalinae

Anartia

fatima

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Nymphalinae

Anartia

fatima

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Nymphalinae

Anartia

fatima

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Nymphalinae

Anartia

jatrophae

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Nymphalinae

Anartia

jatrophae

R. Naturalista

Nymphalidae

Nymphalinae

Anartia

jatrophae

Selva Verde

Nymphalidae

Nymphalinae

Anartia

jatrophae

Marenco

Nymphalidae

Nymphalinae

Anthanassa

ardys

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Nymphalinae

Anthanassa

drusilla

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Nymphalinae

Anthanassa

frisia

Los Innocentes

Nymphalidae

Nymphalinae

Chlosyne

erodyle

 

 

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