Green Hills Butterfly Farm

21 09 2012

We have actually picked up 6 hitchhikers so far since moving here….something we would never do in the US.  It is a good way to meet new people who will tell you more about Belize (although we do need to be careful – if anyone we pick up is carrying a gun or drugs and we were to get pulled over, we would go to jail with them!)  On the way to the Green Hills Butterfly Farm in Pine Mountain Ridge, we picked up a farmer who had walked from 7 mile village to Georgeville on Chiquibul Road 

that morning (1 ½ hr walk downhill) and was starting his 2 hr walk uphill back home.  (as an aside, we came back by driving through Cristo Rey, Santa Elana, San Ignacio, then back down the Western Highway. Some other trip, we may go further on Chiquibul road to visit the 1000 ft falls and perhaps eat traditional Italian dishes at Francis Ford Coppola’s Lodge “Blaucaneaux”. Montagna Ristorante uses the Coppola’s private family recipes, drawn from their history in the southern region of Basilicata.  Their Enchanted Cottage rents for only US$1800 per night – on that road?????? – good luck getting there without a rattling vehicle and a raging headache!  Anyways – back to my story.  The farmer (Elton) was happy we stopped for him.  We learned about farming and bringing goods to market twice a week.  He pointed out how the politicians had put up poles to bring them electricity, but they stopped there – no wires.  The village in which he grew up and still lives has no electricity.  He waters his plants by hauling buckets from a stream.  His mom watches TV by using a battery.  We dropped him at his village, which has been renamed “Progressive” and populated by Guatemalans.  Here, about 15 miles from the border of Guatemala, there is still a little tension between Belizeans and Guatemalans.  We continued on this very, very bumpy unpaved road on to the Green Hills Butterfly Farm which is owned by Tineke,  a lady from the Netherlands, who gave us a tour herself, since we were visiting on a holiday and she had given her staff the day off.  She had quite a gathering of hummingbirds at her feeders.  She also has about 2000 butterflies in an enclosed screened area with lots of plants and feeders.  She harvests eggs, keeps track of the caterpillars, and cocoons (especially the blue Morphos).  Here is some video of the butterfly farm enclosure. We enjoyed having the butterflies land on us and (unlike the little girl who swatted and smashed one who landed on her shoulder at one butterfly garden where I used to work – Awwwww!?) we restrained ourselves from swatting at them.

The star of the show is the Blue Morpho (Nymphalidae Morpho peleides):

Here are its eggs and baby caterpillars:

The next series of shots show Blue Morpho Caterpillar developmental progress:

  

The cocoon looks like this: 

New birth of the Blue Morpho: 

Another beautiful blue butterfly there is the Mexican Bluewing (Myscelia ethusa).

Not a great pic, but shows how light hitting it at a different angle brings out different colors:

Below are Glasswinged butterflies(Ithomiinae Pteronymia cotytto) – possibly involved in communal roosting.  Their name in Spanish is “espejitos”, which means “little mirrors” because the tissue between the veins of its wings looks like glass, lacking the colored scales found in other butterflies.

Mating glasswings:

More glasswings with their buddy a Dirce Beauty or Mosaic or Zebra Mosaic (Colobura dirce):

This specimen of the Tiger Longwing (Heliconius hecale zuleikahas) the coloration of a typical “zuleika” but the pattern of H. h. fornarina. Known as forma café.  It has been seen in the wild, but is rare there. The wingspan is 2.2-2.7”.These butterflies utilize Passion flower plants as their larval food source and rely on bright wing color patterns to signal their distastefulness to potential predators. During the day, these active butterflies entertain guests in the butterfly houses as they fly from flower to flower but little do guests know that each evening, the Longwings participate in another fascinating behavior known as communal roosting to deter predation by birds. A relationship between aggregation size and predator attack rate suggests that communally roosting butterflies enjoy the benefits of both overall decreased attack frequency as well as a prey dilution effect. 

A Tiger on my finger: 

On firebush, something I need to get into my backyard!

This is a red rim or Crimson-banded Black (Biblis hyperia):

This is most likely a Variable Cattleheart (Parides erithalion polyzelus):

Female Grecian Shoemaker (Catonephele numilia esite) and Magnificent Owl (Caligo eurilochus sulanis) butterflies on plantains. Adult male and female Grecian Shoemakers exhibit sexual dimorphism.  Males are black with six orange dots

on the dorsal surface of the wings whereas females are black with a light yellow band across the center of the fore wings. Butterflies in the genus Caligo are commonly called owl butterflies, after their huge eyespots, which resemble owls’ eyes. They are found in the rainforests and secondary forests of Mexico, Central, and South America. Owl butterflies are very large, 2.6–7.9 in, and fly only a few meters at a time, so avian predators have little difficulty in following them to their settling place. However, the butterflies preferentially fly in dusk, when few avian predators are around. The Latin name may possibly refer to their active periods. Caligo means darkness. Some owl butterflies form leks in mating behavior. Leks are courtship displays (of certain animals); probably from the Swedish att leka “to play”. A strict hierarchy accords the most desirable top-ranking males the most prestigious central territory, with ungraded and lesser aspirants ranged outside. Females come to these arenas to choose mates when the males’ hierarchy has become established, and preferentially mate with the dominants in the center.

Malachite Butterflies  (Spiroeta stelenes biplagiata) are neotropical brush-footed butterflies in the family Nymphalidae. The malachite has large wings that are black and brilliant green or yellow-green on the uppersides and light brown and olive green on the undersides. It is named for the mineral malachite, which is similar in color to the bright green on the butterfly’s wings. The wingspread is typically between 3.3 and 3.9 in. The malachite is found throughout Central and northern South America, where it is one of the most common butterfly species. Adults feed on flower nectar, rotting fruit, dead animals, and bat dung. Females lay eggs on the new leaves of plants in the Acanthaceae family, especially ruellia (I’ve planted some of this in my backyard). The larvae are horned, spiny black caterpillars with red markings.

New Birth:

The metamorphosis that butterflies undergo is easily comparable to the transformation that happens when someone becomes a Christian. Before we come into a personal relationship with Jesus, our only option is to crawl – to sin.  When we admit we are sinners in need of a Savior and trust Christ alone to save us from our sins, we are “born again” (John 3).  The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  Jesus delivers us not only from the penalty of our sins, but also the power of sin in our lives (and we can also look forward to Him saving us from the presence of sin in our lives one day when we reach heaven – not based on anything we have done, but based solely on Christ’s finished work in His substitution death in our place to pay for our sins. Ephesians 2:8 & 9 says “For by grace [unmerited favor] you have been saved [delivered from paying the penalty of your sins yourself in an eternal conscious torment apart from God] through faith [belief that manifests itself as trusting in Christ alone]; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift [we can’t pay Him back or earn it in any way] of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Italicized stuff in brackets is my commentary in attempt to clarify or define some words).  But some may say….Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites.  They sin!  Yes we do.  We still, while on this earth have a choice….to fly – to rise above the power of sin by yielding to the indwelling Holy Spirit and allowing Christ to live His life through us (as you read in John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”) …….OR…… have you ever seen a butterfly in your yard light on a dog doo?  Admit it….it can happen.  Christians can choose to sin and as a result forfeit fellowship with God until we confess our sins. 1 John 1:8 & 9 says  “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  It’s like if you have a child who has been playing in the mud and he or she wants to come into your house all muddy.  You will probably say to him/her “I love you and you are still my child, but you are NOT coming into my house that way.  Let’s clean you up, then you can come in and have dinner with me.”  There was a lot of truth to that old bumper sticker that said “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven”!


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