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Turtle Mountain Butterflies

Sunday, April 5, 2009

In Iwokrama Reserve, there's a place called Turtle Mountain. It's an easy hike, once you get there in a boat. We had a fine hot sunny day for the hike, and the butterflies were fabulous.

Our goal was to reach an overlook where we'd see an unbroken blanket of pristine rainforest stretching out before us. But the bugs were so good, with an army ant swarm with associated avian hangers-on, that I would have been perfectly happy never to make it to the precipice. Yeah, I know. Not many people enthuse about the bugs being good; they usually talk about bugs being bad when they're out hiking, but you'll see what I mean.

It's a huge thrill for a butterfly enthusiast to be in a place where all the butterflies are new. Well, not quite all of them. The white peacock is common throughout the Neotropics.
I knew this was a cracker, but I couldn't tell you which one.
A danaiid, related to our monarchs, but there my ID grinds to a halt.
And this skipper is a longtail, but I don't know which one.
This heliconiid was fluttering delicately, in the buoyant way of their kind, all around a clearing at the Turtle Mountain picnic shelter.
As was this gorgeous little thing. Maybe a metalmark?? Durn it! I wish I could tell you what it is, but I was reduced to simply enjoying them instead of categorizing them (my preferred means of organizing my joy).
So it was a thrill and relief to find one I did know--the magnificent, show-stopping malachite. Luke Johnson and Mike Weedon traded turns photographing it.
Here's the malachite, head on.
And the equally captivating side view. It's a big bug, easily the size of a tiger swallowtail. Tame, confiding, elegantly proportioned--everything a butterfly ogler could ask for. In my next post, more invertebrates, some colonial spiders, eek! and another potoo. I bet you'll have trouble sleeping , waiting for colonial spiders and a potoo.

In local news, spring is visiting Whipple for two days before the cold clamps down again. Bill got our old tractor going and mowed the whole meadow and rototilled the pea and lettuce rows. I began the large job of pruning the roses and weeding the front flower beds. We put up two new bluebird/tree swallow boxes. Nothing I love better than to spend a day in the fresh breeze and sunshine, doing that.


I've been gardening all weekend as well. But I'm picking lettuce, sugar snap peas, and greens, transplanting baby trees and other plants I started from cuttings, dividing Mexican feather grass, taking pictures of my first tomatoes - Sweet 100 cherry. I cleaned out my old brocoli plants and planted canteloupe and watermellon in their bed.

Also listening to the FOS summer tanager and enjoying lots of goldfinches, pine siskins, black chinned hummingbirds.

I live in the Texas Hill Country west of Austin and we have a brief spring that starts the third weekend in February and is over by mid May.

But we can grow vegtables and have flowers blooming all year round.

Wow, that's amazing. I can't even plant my sugar snaps yet because it's supposed to go down to the 20's on Tuesday, which bites. I'm praying my heirloom lilac is spared being frozen black, as happened two years ago. I cannot stand a spring without lilacs. Thank goodness the bluebirds are only just laying eggs. Spring is rough!

Such gorgeous photos! Funny how almost all serious birders seem to get into butterflies eventually - I don't know anything about the different types beyond "ooh, pretty," but I have friends who keep butterfly life lists.

Reading about other people's travels is always such fun, especially when it brings back memories of my own, like watching the blue morpho butterflies at breakfast every morning in Costa Rica...

Our downside is no lilics. Too hot for them.

Yes, we're sort of on the edge of the lilac belt ourselves here in So. Ohio. I'm so grateful they like it here. Sometimes I think I live from spring to spring just for that scent and color.

The brown and white job is beautiful. I never remember their names or categories - I just know they're purdy.

Lilacs = Spring. Ahhhh.

Glad your lovin' the outdoors. We will have below freezing here this week, too. Bummer.

Supposed to have a cold snap here too for two days... praying for only around 33ish? It has been beautiful over the past few weeks though, and so, like you said Julie, if it kills everything, we will be oh, so very sad.

Love seeing the flutterbys in other places. :c)

viceroy?? (on that monarch look alike)

The beauty of the butterfly's wings. Absolutely beautiful pics. Look forward to the days when I start to see them in my gardens. Lou

Potoo, did you say Potoo??

Only seen them on TV, PBS, and I think the are a wonderful bird.
Bring on the photos.

These are beautiful, Julie! Butterflies and moths fascinate me, so imagine my thrill at seeing some foreign critters from one of your adventures!

Oh, and we're "enjoying" a fresh dose of arctic air here in Texas. We should get into the 20s by tomorrow morning. After being in the 80s on Saturday, something we'll get back to by Thursday. I think they call it a roller coaster...

The cracker is possibly the rare species first identified by the famous German lepidopterist Klaus Cheezund – the famous Cheezund Cracker.

Seriously though, I’d say the danaiid is likely a Queen (Danaus gilippus) as I think the pale spots seen in the middle of the wings are the bold white spots that would be seen on a dorsal view. The skipper looks to be a Dorantes Longtail (Urbanus dorantes). The possible metalmark, spectacular as it is, I can’t even make a guess at.

Thanks, Rootin' Tootin' Riutta. You're right--the longtail looked real familiar, but I lack the proper reference books to be sure. And yes, I'll take Queen on the daniid. Now if somebody would pipe up about the metalmark!

Wow, those butterflies are so beautiful! It would be so amazing to actually see them in the wild (I've only seen them in butterfly exhibits here in Minnesota)

Love the greens in that Malachite photo--that's a photo to die for!

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