Friday, January 15, 2010

My Studies of Butterflies and Flowers in Costa Rica


The exotic flora in Costa Rica attracts a variety of pollinators including hummingbirds, butterflies, bats, bees, wasps, and many more. The beautiful flower above is in the Heliconia family. I believe that this particular species scientific name is Heliconia wagneriana. Its bright flowers attract hummingbirds for pollination. I did not see any butterflies drinking from this particular species. It appears that the flowers are too deep for the butterfly’s proboscis (drinking tube) to reach the thick nectar.


These purple and white flowers grow on a large bush commonly called Sanjuan (Brunfelsia grandiflora). The first day of my stay in Costa Rica I saw a Glasswing butterfly (Greto oto) feeding on the flowers. Its wings have very few scales making them transparent. It was to0 quick for me to capture a photograph, but I will always remember its beauty.


The community I am staying with in the jungles has a beautiful garden that has a variety of herbs, flowers, and vegetables. Much of the food for our meals is collected from the gardens and from surrounding fruit trees. The garden attracts many butterflies and insects which provides a wonderful location for my research.

To start my day, I wake up at 6:00 a.m. The tropical birds are the natural alarm clock in the jungles. To prepare for my daily explorations I gather my electronic equipment and journal. I wear long jeans, long shirt, and hat to protect myself from scorpions, snakes, biting insects, and giant spiders. I end up drenched with sweat by the end of the day from my long clothes, but I stay well protected from biting insects and don’t get sun burn.

skipper on flowers

This is one of the butterflies I observed in the community garden. This butterfly has long-tails protruding from its wings. It is not a Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus), but looks very similar.

camoflaged butterfliy

I have learned that the butterflies and moths in the rain forests are colored to blend in with their surroundings. Finding butterflies is hard work and full of frustration, but it is worth every drop of sweat! Can you find the small butterfly in the picture? It matches the dead leaves covering the forest floor. The dry season has started in Costa Rica bringing with it strong winds which causes much fallen leaves.


Butterflies live in a dangerous world. Spiders, birds, dragonflies, and other predators stay hidden as they wait for a butterfly to come within their reach. God gave butterflies amazing defense skills such as camouflage to hide from their predators.


This butterfly has become trapped in a spider web. Even cautious butterflies will eventually become recycled back into the food chain.

Tropical butterfly

All these tropical butterflies depend on the rainforests for survival. Loosing rain forests with their amazing biodiversity of insects in the tropical rainforests would be a great loss for humans. Two and a half acres of rain forest are being destroyed every second! We need too conserve this valuable resource before its too late.

Adios Amigos!

1 comment:

  1. WOW! Elizabeth your pictures are stunning and your knowledge inspiring. How wonderful to be able to spend time learning about the people as well as the pollinators and butterflies. I really look forward to reading your next post!