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Trip Report
Butterfly-watching Holidays
Peru 2011
Central Andes                                                                                SPECIES LIST >>
May 2011
A non-profit small group butterfly watching adventure to central Peru, researched, organised and led by Adrian Hoskins in conjunction with local guides.
Lima to Satipo :
Our tour began at Lima where we were met by our guides Manuel and Ruben, and our driver Abel.
We left at dawn to drive over the Andes to Satipo, breaking our journey at Tarma where we saw our first butterflies of the trip Colias euxanthe and the miniature Painted Lady Vanessa carye. Later in the day we stopped at a patch of roadside scrub at an elevation of about 2000m, where we found several skippers including Gesta gesta, Pyrgus omrina, Pyrgus ocnus and Hylephila phylaeus.
Lasaia agesilas, male, Catarata Bayoz, La Merced, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
Mariposa :
During the next few days we visited several sites near Satipo, starting at Mariposa - a very scenic cloudforest site at an altitude of about 700m. A gulley by the roadside produced several interesting butterflies including the stunning Blue Doctor Rhetus periander and 4 Dynamine species. Later we crossed the beautiful Rio Pampa Hermosa by suspension bridge, and followed a narrow trail which provided us with an excellent introduction to the butterflies of the eastern Andes.
Among the many species seen along the trail were the common but very attractive black white and red Anartia amathea, the glittering blue metalmark Lasaia agesilas, and a good variety of Ithomiine glasswings including Hypoleria lavinia, Pteronymia sao and Hyaliris mestra. The numerous other discoveries included the very distinctive white banded Oressinoma typhla and the pretty long-tailed skipper Urbanus belli -  a rapidly flying species that would have been difficult to photograph had it not been for the fact that it returned repeatedly to settle on the same leaf.
After a delicious meal courtesy of the local trout farm we set up our moth sheet, and very quickly found ourselves amidst a swirling swarm of Pantherodes moths - so many in fact that it was almost impossible to breathe without swallowing a few! The mercury vapour lamp also attracted several hawkmoths, and an enormous Dobsonfly - a fearsome looking creature with a 10cm abdomen, a wingspan of about 15cms, and huge jaws that can inflict excruciating pain should you be unlucky enough to be bitten. We treated it with respect!
Catarata Bayoz :
The next day we visited an impressive waterfall - Catarata de Bayoz. This is a superb butterfly site which produced Diaethria numberwings, Zaretis leafwings, Smyrna blomfildia, Danaus plexippus, Dryas iulia and the stunning Blue-spotted Firewing Catonephele numilia. Other attractive species included Nessaea hewitsoni - banded with bright blue on the upperside, and leaf-green underneath; the beautiful orange Daggerwing Marpesia berania; several Adelpha species; and the bright pink Brazilian Painted Lady Vanessa brasiliensis.
Catonephele numilia, Catarata Bayoz, La Merced, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
Rio Shima :
Rio Shima is one of the most productive butterfly sites in all of South America, and our tour groups have visited it many times. In previous years we have had to undertake a fairly arduous 2 hour trek through the cloudforest to reach the site, but this year a new logging road had been carved through the forest, making the walk very easy. As we rambled along the road we were thrilled to find a pristine Pterourus zagreus puddling by the side of a stream, and shortly afterwards we came across a very pretty blue Amazon Cracker Hamadryas chloe basking on a tree trunk.
For most of our tour we stay at comfortable hotels, but while at Rio Shima we camp by the side of a stream, in a simple wooden shack. It is not the most comfortable place to stay, but the number and variety of butterflies that can be seen within a 5 minute walk of the shack is simply mind-blowing!
One of our group was fortunate enough to find the beautiful giant green hairstreak Evenus batesii, but the rest of us had to "settle" for such beauties as the stunning metallic blue Morpho rhetenor, Caligo teucer Owl butterflies, a variety of dazzling Doxocopa Emperors, Agrias amydon, numerous beautiful Callicore species, and a mass of exquisite metalmarks including the gorgeous red-barred Amarynthis meneria, the ultra-cute Sarota gyas, and no less than 5 different Caria species!
Caria rhacotis male, Rio Shima, Satipo, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
Skipper fanatics found many exciting and colourful species including the extremely impressive blue banded Phocides metrodorus, Elbella theseus and Jemadia hewitsoni; the stunning yellow Myscelus nobilis, and the delightful green-shouldered Gorgopas trochilus.
Each night at Rio Shima we used a mercury vapour lamp to discover which moths were in the area. We attracted somewhere in excess of 500 species. The variety of colours, patterns, shapes and weird postures adopted by the moths was mind-boggling. Many of these amazing insects can be seen on the Moths - Amazon and Andes pages.
Rio Tambo :
This year we explored a new site close to the Rio Tambo, where we saw several mud-puddling Philaethria dido - a stunning and very graceful butterfly with translucent green "windows" in its wings. At one spot where a small stream forded the logging road we found the transparent-winged skipper Oxynetra confusa, and swarms of Dynamine species. Afterwards we crossed the river by ferry, and had lunch at the riverside restaurant before returning to Satipo.
Rhetus arcius, Rio Shima, Satipo, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
Catarata de Tirol :
Along the narrow trails of this steep sided forest valley we found several attractive species that we didn't find elsewhere on the tour. These included Mesotaenia vaninka, Catasticta reducta, the blue ringlet Chloreuptychia herseis, and Patia orise - a transparent Pierid that is an incredibly convincing Batesian mimic of the giant Methona glasswings. We spent several minutes strategically positioned next to a Heliconia plant, hoping that it might be visited by a Eurybia, and sure enough within a few minutes Eurybia dardus arrived to seek nectar.
Dry western Andes :
On our return trip from Satipo to Lima we decided to explore an unusual habitat - a hot dry area of sparse vegetation at an altitude of about 3000m on the western slope of the Andes near San Mateo. Habitats like this usually only produce 4 or 5 species - often just mundane skippers such as Pyrgus bocchoris, but on this occasion we came across something special - the very rare silvery-grey hairstreak Strymon daraba.
Strymon daraba, San Mateo, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
Lima :
Landslides and miners strikes can occasionally disrupt travel on the road between Satipo and Lima, so we arranged to get back to the capital early, with a comfortable safety margin before catching our return flights to the UK. We used our time productively in uptown Miraflores, fitting in a fabulous buffet lunch, an excellent souvenir market, and a thoroughly entertaining evening show, before saying goodbye to our hosts and vowing to return again next year!
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