Exploding Fatimas – A Gruesome Way to Go   Leave a comment

Felipe del Bosque Blog Jan 17th 2011

Average Daily Temp High 85°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 73°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.0 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.0 ins

Average Daily Temp High 29.4 °C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.7 °C.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.0 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.0 mm

This has been another hot and dry week at Bosque del Cabo.  The temperatures are slowly creeping up.  Daytime temperatures are now reaching the upper 80’s, but it still has to be remembered that the daily average temperature range here is greater than the annual average temperature range.

The butterflies are now coming out in force.  There has been a population explosion of the White-banded Fatimas.  This butterfly is commonly observed around the Bosque grounds and it usually has two peaks in numbers during the year, one now and another …..

It is not alone; many of the heliconiids are out in force too.  As they are brightly colored and relatively slow flying, they are fairly easy for the visitors to observe.  They also like to feed from the Lantana flowers next to the driveway near the garage, so it is hard to miss them.

I have seen one of my personal favorites several times this week on the Zapatero Trail, a clear winged Satyr, Cithaerias pireta.  The diaphanous wings are suffused at the trailing edge with a hint of smoky scarlet lending an air of delicate ethereal and ephemeral beauty.

As ever the grounds are full of monkeys, Agoutis, currasows, toucans and macaws.  We had an experienced Costa Rican guide who brought two bird watching clients from the U.S. staying with us.  One their first morning out, they happened across a Puma cub which growled at them and then ran into a sunlit clearing, not too far from the Tropical Garden.  Sitting waiting for the cub in the sun dappled glade was mother.  The three observers watched as mother and cub walked in the direction of the suspension bridge and disappeared.  Their stay continued in a similar vein with one sighting after the next of birds they had only hoped of seeing.

Talking to the guide before he left, he told me that thankfully this had been the last stop on their journey around Costa Rica, because if it had been the first it may well have given a false impression of what his clients might be expecting in other parts of the country.  He had never known such a diverse, abundant and easily seen fauna anywhere.

There was another Puma sighting later in the week up near the Titi Trail.

The bird life is in full swing with courting manakins, parrots, macaws, hummingbirds well just about everything.  The Great Kiskadees have a nest in the fork of one of the Guanacaste trees near the Bosque pond.  The pair can be seen constantly during the day flying back and forth delivering insect food to the rapidly growing chicks housed within the loosely thatched ball shaped nest.

Philip is a biologist, writer and photographer as well as the onsite naturalist guide at Bosque del Cabo Rainforest lodge on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.


Photo Feature

I have featured the caterpillar of the Saddleback Moth on other occasions in the blog.  It is an interesting looking creature that metamorphoses into the most indistinct little brown moth.  The heavy armament of urticating hairs carried on batteries around the body would be enough to deter most predators, but not all.

Saddleback Moth Caterpillar

Saddleback Moth Caterpillar

The larvae of butterflies and moths are prone to attack by a myriad of predators, everything from mice, birds, lizard and spiders which rank amongst the more obvious, but there are others with a more insidious means of preying on these huge eating machines that comprise the growing stage of the organism’s life history: parasites and parasitoids.

Saddleback Moth Caterpillar

But even this arsenal of weapons won't protect it

Parasites feed on their host but generally do not kill it as they depend upon it for sustenance.  If the host dies, the parasite dies.  Parasitoids are nastier.  The eggs are laid by the adult parasitoid, namely certain wasp families, in the caterpillars living tissue.  They eat it from the inside out consuming its internal organs.  When all the viscera have been consumed from within the unfortunate caterpillar, the wasp maggots themselves pupate, to later emerge as adult wasps which fly off and repeat the grizzly process over again.

Saddleback Moth Caterpillar

From its nemesis - the Braconid Wasps

The caterpillar below has fallen victim to this gruesome end.  The wasps responsible for its demise are probably of the family, Braconidae, tiny but nonetheless deadly for their prey.  The typical cotton like wasp pupae can be seen covering the whole body of the now gutless caterpillar.

As I write, I have received a new toy; a set of extension tubes for the camera.  I am hoping that they will serve to promote my passion for taking close up photographs a step further, so that I can increase the ability of my macro lenses to just get that fraction more magnification.

If all goes well I should be post the results on this site over the coming weeks.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Species List for the Week


Howler Monkey

Spider Monkey

Capuchin Monkey

Three-toed Sloth

White-nosed Coati


Red-tailed Squirrel

Central American Squirrel Monkey

Collared Peccary


Red-lored Amazon

Scarlet Macaw

Great Currasow

Black Hawk

Roadside Hawk

White Hawk

Lineated Woodpecker

Pale-billed Woodpecker

Long-billed Hummingbird

Stripe-throated Hummingbird

Short-billed Pigeon

Blue-crowned Manakin

Red-capped Manakin

Black-hooded Antshrike

Chestnut-backed Antbird

Rufus Piha

Common Paureque

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Fiery-billed Aracari


Cherries Tanager

Grey-headed Tanager

Great Tinamou

Bright-rumped Atilla

Great Kiskadee

Plain Xenops

Brown Pelican

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Cat-eyed Snake

Clawless Gecko

Mediterranean House Gecko

Common Basilisk

Golfo Dulce Anolis

Four-lined Ameiva


Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog

Marine Toad

Red-eyed Green Treefrog

Milky Frog

Fitzinger’s Rain Frog


Anartia Fatima

Anatrytone potosiensis

Antirrhea philoctetes

Archaeoprepona demophon

Battus belus

Battus polydamus

Cithaeria pireta

Colobura dirce

Consul fabius

Dione juno

Dryas iulia

Eueides aliphera

Eueides lybia

Eurema albula

Glutophrissa drusilla

Heliconius erato

Heliconius hecale

Heliconius ismenius

Heliconius sapho

Heraclides cresphontes

Hermeuptychia hermes

Hyalthyrus neleus

Magneuptychia libye

Mechanitis polymnia

Metacharis victrix

Morpho helenor

Morpho Menelaus

Morys valerius

Pareuptychia ocirrhoe

Parides erithalion

Philaethria dido

Phoebis agarithe

Phoebis argante

Phoebis sennae

Pierella helvina

Pompeius pompeius

Porphyrogenes passalus

Pyrgus oileus

Pyrisitia nise

Pyrrhogyra crameri

Quadrus cerialis


Yellow-trumpet Vine flowering

Calabash flowering and fruiting

Monkey Comb Tree flowering and fruiting

Garlic Tree Flowering

Candlestick Plant Flowering.

Cannonball Tree Flowering

Hule flowering

Heisteria fruiting


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