Trip Report Southern Tamaulipas  25 – 30 October 2007

WINGS Birds and Butterflies      Jim Brock and Rich Hoyer, co-leaders

Author:  Jim Brock

The trip started off with a bang at the Los Indios border crossing. Among the several Clouded/Lerema accius and Fawn-potted Skippers/Cymaenes odilia nectaring on a white morning glory was one fresh Double-dotted Skipper/Decinea percosius (photo on Mariposas Mexicanas).

Traveling south, hundreds of Giant Whites/Ganyra josephina were viewed along the roadside in scrub habitats. A brief stop for lunch at the Rio Corona north of Victora was uneventful as food was consumed and little time was spent watching bugs although participants got their first taste of the tropics with Band-celled Sister/Adelpha fessonia, Malachites/Siproeta stelenes and Cryptic Skipper/Noctuana lactifera.

We arrived late afternoon at Canyon del Novillo just outside of Victoria. We parked at the gravel pit and never made into the canyon. It was that good. A clump of three or four blooming Eupatorium odoratum provided us with a virtual who’s who of Tamaulipan skippers and other butterflies for nearly an hour. It wasn’t necessary to move. Lounge chairs would have come in handy as easily 60 species of butterflies were frequenting this clump of flowers. Creamy Whites/Melete lycimnia were everywhere with good numbers of Florida Whites/Appias drusilla mixed in. Skippers included Tailed Aguna/Aguna metophis, Falcate Skipper/Spathilepia clonius, Mottled Bolla/Bolla clytius, Common Bentwing/Ebrietas anacreon, Hermit Skipper/Grais stigmaticus, numerous Glazed Pellicias/Pellicea arina, Red-studded Skipper/Notuana stator, Starred Skipper/Arteurotia tractipennis, and Dark Mylon/Mylon maimon. Metalmarks included Walker’s/Apodemia walkeri, Red-bordered/Caria ino and Curve-winged/Emesis emesia.

In a gully below the odoratum flowers were a number of blooming seep willows (Baccharis sp.). They were sprinkled with both sexes of Silver and Pavon Emperors/Doxocopa laure and D. pavon plus numerous spectacular hairstreaks. No less than 15 species were found on two of the larger plants. The better finds were six Mexican Cycadians/Eumaeus toxea, two male Schaus’ Streaklets/Ipidecla schausi, Damo Hairstreak/Pseudolycaena damo, Goodson’s Greenstreak/Cyanophrys goodsoni, Gold-bordered Hairstreak/Rekoa palegon, Strophius Hairstreak/Allosmaitia strophius and an unidentified species of Erora (posted on this website). In all we had 109 species in under two hours in about 2000 square feet! That’s the way this canyon can be with the right nectar in bloom!! We drove to Ciudad Mante, our base for the next two days.

Our first day below the Tropic of cancer we followed Richard Lehman’s hot tip and checked the flowering vine on the way into Canon de la Servilleta just off the road to Ocampo. We were rewarded with face to face views of Regal Hairstreak/Evenus regalis (see Mariposas Mexicanas) and no less than eight Arcius Swordtails/Rhetus arcius. Other choice bugs soon arrived with the highlights being Potosi Skipper/Anatrytone potosiensis, both sexes of Painted White/Pieriballia viardi, a female Black-patched Bluemark/Lasaia aegesilas, Great Tanmark/Emesis mandana, Lycortas Skipper/Orthos lycortas, Valde Skipper/Morys valda and Frosted Flasher/Astraptes alardus.

We made our way past Ocampo to km 24 on the road to Tula. Butterflies were everywhere. In addition to the flying horde of Monarchs/Danaus plexippus and Creamy Whites/M. lycimnia there were scads of crescents, nymphalids and pierids. Our lunch spot featured a territorial Mexican Dartwhite/Catasticta nimbice, Common Morpho/ Morpho helenor fly-bys, Eyed Sister/Adelpha paroeca, Purple-stained Skipper/Zenis jebus, Inca Skipper/Vehilius inca and tons of Brown Crescents/Anthanassa atronia. The day ended with close views of a Common Myscelus/Myscelus amystis right along the highway.

On days three and four we toured the Gomez Farias area. A morning breakfast on day three at La Florida yielded numerous Dusky Eusalasias/Eusalasia eubule high up in the canopy and a few Red-bordered Pixies/Melanis pixe on a flowering vine. At La Florida the bamboo died to the roots a couple of years ago so it was good to see it coming back along with the butterflies associated with this plant such as Kendall’s Satyr/Splendeuptychia kendalli and larvae of both Vacerra and Niconiades in leaf nests.

Afternoons were spent on the road to Alta Cima before the turnoff to Rancho Cielo.  Highlights were yet another Regal Hairstreak/E. regalis on a flowering tree along with Pearly Hairstreak/Theritas theocritus and Blue-spot Hairstreak/Parrhasius polibetes. We got decent glimpses of the rarely observed female Band-gapped Swallowtail(aka Torquatus ST)/Papilio torquatus high up on a mala mujer. We also finally got looks at all three of the usual crackers (Gray, Glaucous and Guatemalen)/ H. februa, glauconome, and guatemalena, and added showy nymphalids like Rusty-tipped Page/Siproeta epaphus, Spot-celled and Celario Sisters/A. basiloides and A. serpa, Tiger and Pearly Leafwings/Consul fabius and C.electra plus our first Anna’s 88’s/Diaethria anna.

On day five it was then time to head up the mountain but not before trying the lower Rancho Cielo road where we found Rayed and Pointer Sisters/Adelpha lycorias and A. iphiclus.

When one ascends to 3200’ in a tropical cloud forest the diversity drops. However there are interesting bugs found there and we were not disappointed. Our stay at the field station at Rancho Cielo included two full field days. Never had any clouds and conditions were perfect despite the nighttime chill. Highlights were a yet unidentified Ruby-eye/Carystoides sp., Veined Ruby-eye/Synale cynaxa ,both coming to impatiens,possibly a few East Mexican Banded-Skipper/Autochton siermadror, both Elegant and Stalling’s Flats/Celaenorrhinus stola, stallingsi, Erybathis Hairstreak/Laothus erybathis flashing sky blue in the mid-day sunlight, an unidentified species of Ridens, possibly mephitis, Confusing Sister/Adelpha iphicleola, Stained Greenstreak/Cyanophrys agricolor, a half dozen or more Florida Purplewings/Eunica tatila, Superb Cycadian/E. childrenae and Star Satyr/Oxeoschistus tauropolis.

In all, the trip yielded about 250 species of butterflies.