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Trip Report
Butterfly-watching Holidays
Peru 2012
Andes Adventure                                               SPECIES LIST >>
August 2012 - 484 species photographed in 14 days!
A non-profit small group butterfly watching holiday in Peru, led by Adrian Hoskins and Emily Halsey in conjunction with local guides.
Our tour began at Lima where we were welcomed by our host Manuel, driver Julio, and cook Josué. We headed across the Andes, and spotted several Colias Clouded Yellows and various unidentified whites as we ascended the dry western slopes. At midday we stopped for lunch at a restaurant at 3650m altitude near La Oroya. Nearby we found a small colony of Punargenteus lamna, an unusual Satyrine with metallic silvery forewings. We watched in fascination as a female used the tip of her abdomen to excavate tiny holes in the soil in which she deposited her eggs.
We arrived at our hotel at Satipo that evening. Next morning we drove to the picturesque village of Puerto Ocopa where we crossed the Rio Tambo by car ferry and then drove towards Atalaya.
Puerto Ocopa car ferry © Tony Hoare
Along the Atalaya road we found clusters of Rhetus arcius, Rhetus periander and Pereute charops mud-puddling by a small stream. We suffered a minor delay when our vehicle broke a track rod. While arrangements were being made to get it repaired we walked to the nearby Ashaninka Indian village at Pauti where hordes of butterflies including Philaethria dido, Catasticta sisamnus, Altinote dicaeus, Hesperocharis nereina and Pterourus menatius were puddling at the edge of a stream. We spent about an hour studying and photographing the butterflies but then the local Ashaninka Indians suddenly appeared. Unfortunately they were unprepared for our arrival and when they spotted our cameras and long macro lenses they panicked, fearing that we would use them to steal their souls, so to avoid upsetting them we headed back to our vehicle.
By now the light was beginning to fade, so we set up our moth lights at the roadside and enjoyed a camp dinner while arrangements were made to obtain alternative transport for our onward journey. We were soon collected by a couple of local drivers who delivered us to our next destination Shima.
Reaching our campsite at Shima involved a 40 minute walk along an abandoned logging track, and wading across a shallow but fast running stream. It was a hot day so it was a huge relief to get our feet into the clear cool water! As we rambled along the track we encountered a mass migration of butterflies, all heading in the opposite direction. A quick count indicated that at least 100 butterflies per minute were passing us. The migration continued for several hours, and comprised of perhaps 10,000 butterflies, of which about 50% were Marpesia furcula. The remainder consisted of about 20 other species including Heliconius melpomene, Consul fabius, Phoebis neocypris, Eueides aliphera, Doxocopa agathina, Panacea prola, various Eunica and Adelpha species, and several Pierids.
Phoebis argante, Anteos menippe aggregating with Marpesia, Siseme, Melete etc at Rio Shima
With so many butterflies emigrating from Shima we wondered if there would still be any there when we arrived. We were not to be disappointed!! Around the edges of a shallow pool near the campsite we found literally thousands of mud-puddling butterflies including about 2000 Marpesia furcula, 500 Monethe albertus, 10 Lyropteryx apollonia, 20 Caria mantinea, over 30 Rhetus arcius and dozens of other beautiful species among which were Heraclides astyalus, Lasaia agesilas, Pterourus zagreusAgrias amydon, Doxocopa laurentia, Doxocopa griseldis and Parelbella peruana.
Within a few metres of our forest hut we saw somewhere in the region of 350 species of butterfly, and each evening our MV lamp attracted hundreds of moths ranging from tiny but very beautiful Pyralidae and Geometridae species to wasp mimics, huge hawkmoths and giant silkmoths.
Rio Shima, Junin, altitude 450m © Adrian Hoskins
After 4 wonderful days among the butterflies at Shima our repaired vehicle arrived and we drove to the beautiful waterfall at Catarata Bayoz. Butterflies are normally abundant there but the climate in Peru has been unusually dry this year due to El Nino so there were few to be seen. We did however have a great time around the waterfall before heading back to our hotel at Satipo in the evening.
The next day we had a long drive through spectacular Andean scenery, with a couple of butterfly-watching stops along the way, before reaching our next destination, a coffee plantation at 1300m altitude near Villa Rica. We stayed there for 2 nights and saw some gorgeous Arctiidae at our moth light. During the daytime we visited the nearby Bosque Sho'llet cloudforest. At an altitude of about 2300m we saw several very attractive Pronophilines including Lymanopoda rana, and the stunning Riodinid Necyria bellona. While in the area some of us also enjoyed a spot of rowing on the tranquil Laguna Oconal.
Bosque Sho'llet cloudforest, altitude 2300m © Adrian Hoskins
Leaving Villa Rica we headed for our final destination Tingo Maria, but as we were running late we stopped to spend the night at Velo de la Novia at the base of the Andes. There we enjoyed further mothing, and saw some stunning Notodontidae, Geometridae and Arctiidae species. The next day we visited a riverside spot near Tingo Maria where one participant was lucky enough to photograph the stunning long-tailed green hairstreak Arcas tuneta. Although butterfly numbers were low we saw several other interesting hairstreaks, metalmarks and glasswings.
Our last full day of butterflying was spent at the beautiful Rio Onolulu gorge, where we found many beautiful metalmarks including Rhetus dysonii, Ancyluris meliboeus, Crocozona coecias, Amarynthis meneria, Caria sponsa and Chorinea amazon. Finally it was time to head back over the Andes and return to Lima. We only had time for a brief stop en route, but enjoyed an hour at a high altitude altiplano site where we found numerous Colias euxanthe, Peruvian Skippers Hylephila peruviana, and Punargenteus lamna nectaring at Compositae by the roadside. The prize species at this site however was a tiny brown butterfly which at first glance appeared to be a Pronophiline, but turned out to be an as yet un-named species of Lycaenidae in the genus Penaincisalia.
Our final day was spent in the capital Lima where we visited an excellent Peruvian market where we bargained for souvenirs, before having a farewell lunch and driving to the airport for our return flights to London.
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