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.

  P1010060 IMG_4652

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.

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