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Confused Cattleheart in Silver Trap   Leave a comment

Felipe del Bosque Blog August 13th 2012

Sun Shade

The rains have started to increase in frequency.  We have had several dry days but the rain comes in the evening and as it has done for several months now, in the form of violent thunderstorms.  We have early morning rain too, which seems to clear before the sun has risen too high in the sky.  As we approach the end of August visitor numbers to the lodge start to decrease but normally the rain increases.  By the time we get into September the downpours become heavier and heavier.  The creek, which almost completely dried up not so long ago, now has constantly running water.  Over the next month or so, depending upon the amount of precipitation the area receives, it will transform from babbling brook to raging torrent which will cascade over the waterfall on its way to the sea.  By the end of the week, the sun was shining, if not for all of the day, at least in the morning and a good way through the afternoon.

Laughing at Dinner

There was another Puma sighting this week and it occurred more or less in the same place as last week’s sighting, near the end of the Bosque driveway.  There were 3 people in a car on their way to surf early in the morning when they saw the cat so that made for a good start to the week.

This week the surf has been huge with massive waves making entrance to the swimming areas on the gulf beaches hazardous even for experienced surfers.  That has been the situation all the way up the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

One night when I went down to the pond to see what was around, I found 4 Parrot Snakes, (Leptophis ahaetulla), all sleeping in different locations at the top of the vegetation.  Next day when I revisited the area I watched as a Laughing Falcon, (Herpetotheres cachinnans), flew off carrying one of the Parrot Snakes in its talons.  Laughing Falcons are specialized predators of snakes and over the years I have observed them feeding on a variety of different species.

Which Frog is Witch

The Bosque pond has been very active recently with an influx of Gladiator Frogs, (Hypsoboas rosenbergi).  There are generally 1 or 2 of these frogs present throughout the year but at the moment they seem to have arrived in large numbers.  Just after sundown you can hear their distinctive calls from some distance and over the past week there have been many pairs in amplexus.

The Smoky Jungle frogs, (Leptodactylus savegei), too have been breeding with several of their large foam nests being found not only around the pond but also in the drainage ditches.  Red-eyed Green Tree Frog, (Agalychnis callidryas), egg masses have been found in greater numbers this week hanging on the underside of leaves overhanging the pond.

The last remnants of what has been a bumper mango harvest this year are now left rotting under the trees on the ground in the orchard.  When you go out at night, fiery bright orange eyes can be seen reflecting from the fallen fruit and if you follow it in you will find yourself looking at the Black Witch Moths, (Ascalapha odorata), imbibing the fermenting fruit juices.  On one walk this week we saw a White Witch Moth, (Thysania agrippina), on the side of a tree remaining motionless and blending in perfectly with the pale background bark.

Bleeding Cattleheart

The butterfly numbers are down this time of year, but it only takes 1 or 2 days of sun and a slight increase in temperature to bring a few more individuals out of their torpor.  If you head off out while the sun is shining overhead there are still several species of longwings, sulphurs, peacocks, skippers, swallowtails and cattlehearts to be seen.

Around the upper garden near the Titi Trail there is always the good chance of bird sightings as there are a lot of large rotten trees full of holes which attract in woodpeckers, tanagers, toucans, aracaris, tityras, macaws, parrots and a number of birds of prey.  Also scattered around the gardened area are small patches of Lantana camara the glowing red and orange blooms of which are visited by a wide variety of butterfly species.  Along the forest edge around the periphery of the garden is also the favorite haunt of many butterflies.

It was while I was walking out of the garden, where the soaring temperatures and glaring light were proving to be a little overwhelming for me, that I found a Variable Cattleheart, (Parides erithalion), fluttering along the ride in a dappled shade more suitable for an Englishman abroad.  It flitted up and down, landing and then taking to the air again but not showing any intentions of settling.  I followed it for a short way until it alighted on a leaf, folded it wings closed and stopped to rest.  Approaching slowly and without any jerky movements I fixed in the viewfinder and managed to fire off a few shots.  The butterfly didn’t move and continued to remain motionless as I walk away to leave it in peace.

Parides erithalion

On one other occasion when the sun was shining brightly I headed off after lunch to walk a trail that I had not visited for some time, the path through the teak plantation.  In the past this has always been a lucrative hunting ground for a variety of species of all manner of animal life I don’t see anywhere else on the grounds.  All was quiet walking through the forest to the plantation.  As I exited from the wooded trail into the open area of the plantation, I was hit by an immediate increase in both temperature and light levels.  That change suited some of the butterflies though.

The Satyrs or browns are butterflies normally found in darker and damper conditions found under the canopy.  Their subtle brown coloration and habit of flying close to the forest floor make them difficult to see at times.  A common brown, the Confused Satyr, (Cissia confusa), seemed to be just that on this occasion, here it was resting on the path in full sun out in the open.  I slowly sank to my knees and then lay out flat on the muddy path while holding the camera in front of me and trying to focus on the beautiful creature I had in front of me.  I took one shot but as the flash went off it caused the now startled butterfly to return to the undergrowth.  The one shot was not a bad one though.

Cissia confusa

A little further on as I turned on to the main road running back towards the lodge, I was greeted by the sight of  several swallowtail butterflies flying in typical manner, fast and erratically along the forest edges bordering the road.  They are notoriously difficult to photograph as they never settle but today my luck was in.  One of them circled several times around the area I was standing then came to rest on a leaf at ground level and there it stayed, wings outspread displaying bright yellow horizontal bands which handsomely contrast with the jet black background.

Tropical Swallowtail Butterfly

The cattlehearts and swallowtails both belong to the family Papilionidae and the species are very difficult to separate one from the other in the field.  The cattlehearts larvae feed on Aristolochia vines which are poisonous.  The adults exhibit Mullerian mimicry whereby closely related species of poisonous butterflies are almost identical in markings and coloration.  The name Variable Cattleheart refers to the slight variations in markings within the one species making it even harder to identify on account of the fact it resembles a variety of other cattleheart Mullerian co-mimics.

The swallowtail offers the same degree of diagnostic difficulty; there are 2 species which are almost impossible to tell apart except for the diet of the larvae.  Heraclides cresphontes feeds on a wider range of host plants including citrus, Rutaceae and peppers.  Heraclides thoas, which as an adult is all but indistinguishable from the former, feeds only on peppers.

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

 A Flash of Hidden Silver

This is definitely the time of year for those arachnologists to visit.  At night there are Wandering Spiders all over the vegetation, their diamond starburst eyeshine revealing their whereabouts.  Along all of the trails, there are the giant webs of the impressive but harmless Golden Orb Spiders.  I have seen Crab-like Spiders and Spiny Spiders in webs close to the restaurant.  The latter 2 are very small and take some finding.  One other commonly seen spider is the Sliver Orb Spider, (Argiope argentata).  Its web is not as large as its yellow silk producing relative, the Golden Orb Spider, (Nephila clavipes), which also dwarfs it in body size.  Nonetheless the can be quite impressively sizeable.

Argiope argentata

As the name suggests they produce a web of a more commonly observed white color.  Whereas the web may not be immediately obvious because of its size or color, it is quite often easily found because of a large white cross, the stabilimentum, that the spider spins within the centre of the web possibly to mark its position so birds don’t fly through it, to attract in insects or for the spider to use as a cover behind which it can hide.  This spider had placed its web in the middle of a patch of lantana that was being visited by a host of nectar seeking butterfly species.  The gossamer trap must have been successful in providing food for the spider as was evidenced by several detached wing remnants floating on small pieces of silk not too far from its location.

Orb Weaver Spider

The next day on my walk through the teak plantation I found another spider but this time in a more clandestine location under a leaf.  As with the Silver Orb Spider I it was placed so that only the ventral side was visible.  Globally spiders are a very diverse group of animals and like so many other classes in an area of high diversity like Costa Rica, the reference material allowing you to identify your finds to species level is not always possible.  So for now this one will go into the file marked “Unidentified Spider”.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Rainfall 0,4 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 2.79 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 10.1 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 70.9 mm

Highest Daily Temp 89°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 31.4°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.1°C.

Species List for the Week


  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel
  • Red-tailed Squirrel


  • Mealy Amazon
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Great Curassow
  • Grey-necked Woodrail
  • Crested Caracara
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Rufus Piha
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Long-billed Hermit
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Violet-crowned Woodnymph
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
  • Golden-crowned Spadebill
  • Great Kiskadee
  • House Wren
  • Masked Tityra
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture


  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Common Basilisk
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Terciopelo


  • Banana Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Gladiator Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Smoky Jungle Frog


  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Arawacus lincoides
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Cissia confusa
  • Consul fabius
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Junonia evarete
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Parides erithalion
  • Perophthalma lassus
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Siproeta stelenes
  • Taygetis Andromeda
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus tanna


  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Averrhoa carambola Fruiting
  • Bauhinia variegata Flowering
  • Brassavola nodosa Flowering
  • Cananga odorata Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering
  • Citrus spp  Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Fruiting
  • Clusia vallerii Fruiting
  • Cocos nucifera Flowering andFruiting
  • Crestentia alata flowering and Fruiting
  • Costus speciosus Flowering
  • Couroupita guianensis Flowering and Fruiting
  • Dypsis lutescens Flowering and Fruiting
  • Etlingera elatior Flowering
  • Ficus insipida Fruiting
  • Heisteria accuminata Fruiting
  • Heliconia chartacea Flowering
  • Heliconia latispatha Flowering
  • Heliconia pogonantha Flowering
  • Heliconia psittacorum Flowering
  • Heliconia rostrata Flowering
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Flowering
  • Hymenaea coubaril Fruiting
  • Hymenocallis littoralis Flowering
  • Ixora coccinea Flowering
  • Lacmellea panamensis  Fruiting
  • Lantana camara Flowering andFlowering
  • Lagerstroemia speciosa Fruiting
  • Mangifera indica Fruiting
  • Miconia argentia Fruiting
  • Morinda citrifolia Fruiting
  • Musa acuminate Flowering andFruiting
  • Naucleopsis ulei Fruiting
  • Nephelium lappaceum Fruiting
  • Passiflora vitifolia Flowering
  • Piper auritum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Piper nigrum Fruiting
  • Piper umbellatum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Pleiostachya pruinosa Flowering
  • Plumeria rubra Flowering
  • Psidium guajava Fruiting
  • Psychotria sp Fruiting
  • Stachytarpheta frantzii Flowering
  • Symphonia globulifera Fruiting
  • Terminalia catappa Flowering
  • Thunbergia grandiflora Flowering
  • Virola koschnyi Fruiting
  • Zammia sp Flowering



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