Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Fun Day at Escuela Las Nubes in Costa Rica 1/20/10


During my visit to Escuela Las Nubes, I got to experience the pool. After getting tired of just swimming, I decided to take a plunge on the diving board. The diving board has three levels, but I decided it too daring to jump from the highest level and stuck with the first!

Nicole and Elizabeth dog's pool

Nicole Acosta the daughter of the school’s owner and I, both enjoyed the pool. Even the dogs took a splash in the kiddy pool!

Variegated squirrel 

I got to see a Variegated squirrel at the school. Variegated squirrels are found from southern Mexico to Panama. They vary in color from snowy whites with gray, to reddish brown mingled with streaks of gray. They eat a variety of fruits, nuts, and vegetation such as bamboo. They also eat insects and the eggs of a frog! Variegated squirrels are quite playful as they race up and down Costa Rican trees. I was thrilled to get video footage of Variegated squirrel as it perched upon a thin wire fence.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Elizabeth Mann Donates Her Butterfly Manuscript to Escuela Las Nubes in Costa Rica 1/20/10

 IMG_4846 IMG_4847

While touring Costa Rica, I had the honor of donating my manuscript “Elizabeth’s Secret Garden, A Study of Butterflies in North America” to the Las Nubes School. In the picture above is Eduardo Acosta who built Escuela Las Nubes. My manuscript will be kept in the library where all the children and teachers can read and enjoy it. You can watch the video below.



The Las Nubes School is unique in that it has it’s own butterfly pavilion. The school is concerned about the environment and takes care to teach the students about conserving the beauty of Costa Rica.

Red flowers Pink Ginger

Inside the butterfly pavilion, I captured some photos of the flowers grown within. 

Banded Peacock

This is a Banded Peacock butterfly which is a common sight in Costa Rica. Their range is from the southern United States (wanders to Texas), through Mexico, and Central America. The Banded Peacock makes a great subject for photography. The photo above is one of my favorites. Butterfly photography takes practice and patience, so if you are just starting keep trying and you will be pleased with the results as you develop your own skills.

In my next posting I will include videos of a Variegated squirrel and a Golden Orb Spider!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Escuela Las Nubes in Jaco, Costa Rica 1/20/10


While touring Jaco, Costa Rica, I had the pleasure of visiting the Las Nubes school. Las Nubes is a bilingual school that was built by Mr. Eduardo Acosta. Escuela Las Nubes Review


In the picture with me, is Mr. Eduardo Acosta and his daughter Nicole Acosta. Mr. Acosta is the author of the Hope book. Hope is a story about a turtle who endures hardship as its environment at Cocos Island is destroyed by overfishing and pollution. Even through this destruction, their is still Hope who continues to survive. This Spanish book is a great example of the environmental issues we continue to struggle with today, but we can find courage in knowing there is always hope.

Our family is friends with Mr. Acosta and sponsored 100 of his books to be distributed to school children. As a gift, Mr. Acosta gave me a personally signed Hope book and then a second one signed to my family.


At the entrance to the Las Nubes School is the entrance sign which has the Hope turtle sitting upon a waterfall.


At the school, I was honored to teach a class on butterflies. I also gave out butterfly finger puppets that I had hand made. Below is a video of my presentation.

Elizabeth’s Traveling Tips: The grocery store in Jaco is full of delicious fruits, chocolate coffee, and scrumptious pastries. This is our favorite place to buy souvenirs and T-shirts. For safety reasons, do not walk around Jaco after dark.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Elizabeth Mann stays at Hotel Green in Costa Rica 1/20/10

Hotel Green

After my mom and I toured Manuel Antonio, we took a bus to Jaco. We showed the bus driver our destination of Hotel Green, but he dropped us off blocks away. We had no idea where we were as we searched for the hotel. Thankfully we were rescued for there was a lady who spoke good English and was able to point us in the right direction.


Hotel Green is environmentally friendly. They have recycling bins and eco friendly soaps available for use. The luxuries at the hotel include a pool, TVs in each room, warm water, social areas, and WiFi connection. In Costa Rica these are considered luxuries! (Can you find me in the picture above?)


Under this open aired hut, breakfast is served.  To find out more about Hotel Green and contact information visit The Costa Rica News website 

Tropical Flowers of Costa Rica

Below are pictures of flowers I photographed around Hotel Green. The photos turned out beautiful in the morning lighting.

flower 2 flowerflower 3 

Pink Porterweed

Elizabeth’s Traveling Tips: Getting directions and making reservations for your hotel stay, will help you be prepared during your own stay in Costa Rica. Also taking a book containing Spanish words is very helpful.

Next, I will share my tour of the Las Nubes School. I toured their butterfly garden, donated my manuscript to the school, and taught a class on butterflies.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fincas Naturales Butterfly Botanical Garden, Manuel Antonio

Fincas Naturales Malachite

Fincas Naturales Wildlife Refuge is a 25 acre private wildlife refuge which features various nature exhibits and trails. In my previous posting, I wrote about my tour of the crocodile lagoons at Fincas Naturales. Next, I will share my journey through the butterfly lab and butterfly botanical gardens. 


In the butterfly lab at Fincas Naturales, the butterfly’s complete lifecycle can be observed first hand. The journey begins with observing the tiny butterfly eggs inside small glass containers. Next, different caterpillar species can be observed as they feed on their food plant inside the enclosed boxes pictured above. The chrysalis is the final stage contained in the lab. The emerged butterflies are then released into the enclosed butterfly atrium.butterfly display

Inside the butterfly lab is a large display case containing various butterflies of Costa Rica and other giant bugs. There is also a microscope where deceased butterflies can be inspected.

 Butterfly Lifecycles at Fincas Naturales

Below are pictures of the complete life cycles of the Owl and Blue Morpho butterfly, I saw at Fincas Naturales.

Owl Butterfly Life Cycle

Blue Morpho eggs (resized)owl caterpillars 

To the left are the four eggs of Owl butterfly. The eggs are only about the size of a pin head. The large Owl caterpillars to the right feed on the leaves of banana and heliconia plants.

P1010061owl butterfly 

The photo on the left pictures the Owl butterfly’s chrysalis which resembles a dying leaf. The photo on the right is the emerged Owl butterfly. Now can you see why this species was named the “Owl” butterfly? On its hindwing is a large eye spot that looks like an owl eye! The main predator of this species are lizards. The butterfly uses its camouflage and fake eye spots to confuse predators. Another interesting fact is that Owl butterflies mainly fly at dawn and dusk.

Blue Morpho Life Cycle

  Blue Morpho eggs 

The tiny brown disks above are actually the eggs of the Blue Morpho butterfly. It is amazing that these ugly eggs will transform into the beautiful Blue Morpho butterfly.

Blue Morpho yellowBlue Morpho caterpillar

I think it is interesting that the caterpillars of the Blue Morpho change color as they mature. In the photo to the left you can see the yellow patches that cover the caterpillars exoskeleton. The next picture beside it is the same kind of caterpillar, but you will notice that it has more brown.

Blue Morpho Green 

The Blue Morpho caterpillar above is now starting to turn green. It is nearing pupation. Pupation is the stage when the caterpillar will turn into a chrysalis and begin the transformation into a butterfly.

Preparing for pupa 

This Blue Morpho caterpillar above has found a spot to hide as it will soon change into a chrysalis. Its skin is beginning to tighten and it is almost motionless, but a big change is about to occur. It will shed its old skin as it changes into a chrysalis.

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Above are the chrysalises of the Blue Morpho and beside it is the Blue Morpho displayed with its shimmering wings open.

Above is a Youtube video I created of my tour inside the Fincas Naturales Botanical Garden. The video shows the interior of the lab and then moves into the butterfly atrium. I also included footage and photos of the various butterflies inside the atrium.

Elizabeth’s Traveling Tips: When visiting Fincas Naturales Wildlife Refuge, e-mail in advance for an appointment.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fincas Naturales Wildlife Refuge, Manuel Antonio 1/18/10

Fincas Naturales

After we left our tour of Manuel Antonio National Park, we took a short bus ride to Fincas Naturales Wildlife Refuge. Fincas Naturales is 25 acres of private wildlife refuge and trails.

lizard and bird

Our first tour was in the Reptile Lagoons. In the above picture there is a Jesus Christ Lizard and a Heron. Can you find them in the photo? My mom and I had trouble spotting them in their habitat. In the picture below, I have place red arrows where they are sitting.

lizard and bird arrows


To observe the reptiles, I walked along a metal bridge suspended above the lagoons that held the different species of reptiles.


Boa constrictor

The refuge has successfully raised and released twenty Boa Constrictors back into the wild. Boas are endangered due to being hunted for their skins and captured to be sold in pet shops.

Next we moved into the butterfly pavilion which will be my next posting.