Flying Gems

When I saw jewels flying I thought that hypoxia had accentuated my natural brain decay. Even under these circumstances I was quite surprised!

It all happened while practicing the “walking to keep fit” arrangement that my wife and I performed daily, weather permitting. Of course you have already guessed that they were butterflies and that unlike García Marquez in his masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude, I failed to convey the proper message. For this reason, this post is mainly about the photographs I took of what was flying around during a few days walking in and around our farm at the Andes foothills[1].

The first one that caught our attention was the Crimson-banded Black (Biblis hyperia nectanabis), very mobile and tricky to capture. These are the best I got:

Crimson black 2 small

Crimson black 1 small

We could also not fail to notice a few others that, with their fair share of beauty, immediately attracted our attention. These are shown below:

Dark Malachite 3 Dark Malachite 3 crop Dark Malachite 2 Dark Malachite 2 crop Dark Malachite 1 crop

Five pictures of Dark Malachite (Siproeta epaphus epaphus)

Yunguena Sapphire and hooked small

Yungueña Sapphire (Doxocopa cyane burmeisteri) on the right and Hooked Small (no Latin name)

Fuegan Fuegan open Fuegan open crop Fuegan -2- crop

Fuegian (Mechanitis lysimnia elisa)

Once the most obvious (and larger) species were noticed, a number of others were noted such as a large number of very small black and yellow ones lying flat on wet areas. Closer inspection revealed two similar types occurring together as well as a rather delicately ornate orange one, also sharing the wetter and shady areas.

Black and yellow unknown cropped Black and yellow group Black and yellow different from each other small Orange small unknown crop

Several other species were noted. The following ones are the most colourful, although as the video below also shows, there are large number of others that we had not had time to photograph at this point. Regarding their identification, what I know about them is included in the caption of the pictures.

Leopard 1 crop Leopard 2 crop Dark brown and white small Catula other Catula brown crop Brown and white crop Black wing folder crop Black and orange cropped Beige cropped Ashgray

After a few days of rambling along our roads, we thought we had seen most of what was on offer and we were just checking for the odd one that had escaped our attention so far, mainly small ones. Wrong again! After a rainy night, sunshine greeted us the following morning. Clearly the conditions for butterfly (and other insect) activity were optimal and they were out in numbers. Close to the start of our walk we found fresh faeces, probably from a pig (regrets to the fainthearted but this is nature’s “reality show”) that had a mixed population feeding on them. But what really caught our attention was a rather large and hitherto new winged creature, with iridescent blue wings with red markings.

Various insects attracted by faeces. The obvious iridescent blue butterfly/fly called our attention.

Various insects attracted by faeces. The obvious iridescent blue butterfly/fly called our attention.

A close-up of the butterfly/fly.

A close-up of the butterfly/fly.

Although at first sight we mistook it for a butterfly, its direct flight and red bulgy eyes made us suspect that it is probably more related to flies than butterflies. Further investigation on this weird and beautiful creature is on its way and it will be reported.

In the meantime, in the rare moments of calm between more research, blog writing and farm chores, I am reading García Marquez to see if I can find the precise words for the next post as butterflies and moths are still being found!

[1] I regret to inform the readers that I am only able to identify a handful of them as there is no available guide and no Internet access. I will follow up when possible and complete the information later.

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