Saturday, September 19, 2015

Alto Piatua

David Neill and I drove to the CIPCA research station in the primary rainforest.  It is relatively undisturbed, with only the larger and valuable timber stolen.  About 10 km of very bumpy dirt and gravel road, best with 4 wheel drive.  It took about 40 minutes.  Then you take a footpath to a pedestrian suspension bridge across the Rio Piatua. Photo traps show that there are jaguar, deer, and tapir present!

Just before the footbridge was a small wet area where I saw (and caught) the most beautiful dragonfly I've ever seen.  Follow this link to gaze in awe at Zenithoptera: The Morpho of the Dragonflies.

We walked around a little bit and I was shown the beginnings of the three or four major trails.  The caretaker and his wife were absent.  They have a wooden lab building if I wanted to spend time there.

The next week, Alina and I went there to set pan traps, since the rest of my equipment hasn't shown up yet.  We met Edison, the caretaker, and he walked us over a log path 1.5km to where the primary (virgin) forest began.  I set up 20 pans.  We caught a modest number of flying insects, and saw lots of butterflies including morphos.  We also collected some amazing specimens that I brought back live to rear.

These are some moth caterpillars that are parasitized by braconid wasps (the yellow ovals are wasp pupae) the same way tomato hornworms are.  I reared out the wasps.

This leaf has giant whiteflies, whose nymphs secrete long, waxy fibers.  I reared wasps out of those too, but I'm not sure yet which family they are in.

On the way back, we went past a marsh where the tall plants were tipped with what looked like bright blue flowers.  Alina thought she knew the plants, but we didn't stop to check.  When I went back two days later, it turned out there was quite a population of Zenithoptera there, looking like flowers!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the blog - I wish you and Alina the very best. Sounds like quite an adventure.