Lepidoptera at Mount Totumas

This past week I had my cousin Tom and his family (Ada, Sam and Megan) up at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest. It was a great week of hiking and exploring. Tom is a lepidopterist and self taught botanist. He brought along his bug lights and traps that we set up at nights around the house. A mercury vapor light together with a fluorescent UV light (powered by our micro hydro generator) on either side of a sheet that we hung between two trees was used to attract the insects.

Bug Light

There are no other competing artificial lights in the whole valley and bordering La Amistad National Park puts us right up against pristine upper montane forest and cloud forest. In spite of some less than optimal conditions with strong winds we did succeed in attracting some interesting specimens of moths and beetles especially in the last couple of nights when the winds subsided.

Cousin Tom The summer months will probably prove to be the best months for collecting and attracting insects. Last August I can remember the spotlight at night attracting hordes of moths. I can only imagine next August when we set up the bug lights Tom left behind how many Lepidopteron visitors we will have. The photos on this post are a sample of some of the more charismatic specimens including butterflies photographed during our daily hikes.
Saturnid Moth
Diversity by night was followed by diversity during the day as some of the local birds figured out that the white sheet still held many of the last nights visitors and by the third morning we had Tropical Kingbirds, Rufous Collared Sparrows and Flame Throated Tanagers actively feeding on the moths. When a large saturnid moth took off four Tropical Kingbirds gave chase high above the trees and in the end the silk moth escaped unharmed. Tropical Kingbird
A butterfly highlight of the week was the giant swallowtail species Papilio garamas syedra that we came across in a small clearing along the trail up the Rio Colorado valley. This beautiful insect reaching a wingspan of 7.5cm road the micro thermals that were rising from the sun heated opening in the forest and glided effortlessly in broad circles for ten minutes as we all watched in amazement.

Here is a link to the Mount Totumas Lepidoptera Gallery

4 Responses to “Lepidoptera at Mount Totumas”

  1. daniel says:

    Holy Bugs!
    my favorites were oleria vicina and megalopygidea!!!!
    you took all those pics?!
    oh man. geez. i can’t wait to learn some of everything i don’t know about the world!
    so fuckin cool.

  2. ana says:

    just kidding, of course. sometimes i am so silly.

  3. This is fun to read and interesting, too. The gallery is a beauty!

    There’s something about having cattle on your pastures, walking out there in the morning, knowing the individual animals, etc. Feels great, eh?

    Keep on postin’ Jeff! We miss you!

    –Peter and Menchie

  4. admin says:

    Ana, Of course those were all our photos. It is a compilation of everyone who took pictures of butterflies and moths during their visits here. Most of the photos were during my cousin Tom’s visit but some of the photos were taken by Michael and Emily during their trip last August. All photos were taken at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest.

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