Buggin Around in Costa Rica

April 17, 2008

Hey bug fans! In mid-March, Laurie and I had the opportunity of a lifetime! We were able to travel to Costa Rica and visit a butterfly farm that is one of our largest and best suppliers of tropical butterflies. I know we’ve kept you in suspense for long enough, so without further ado, here’s how it all went down…

Creative Commons License photo credit: emills1
 Laurie and I at the Liberia Airport

Laurie and I arrived in Liberia right before noon on March 13, 2008.  We descended the stairs from our plane and were immersed in the 90 degree weather. We were both excited, ready for an adventure, and a little sweaty. After about an hour waiting for the rest of the group, and a few refreshments, we were on our way to El Bosque Nuevo. El Bosque Nuevo is a butterfly farm nestled in the heart of a tiny town called Santa Ceciliana in the Guanacaste province of Northwest Costa Rica. Every other week we receive a beautifully packed shipment of healthy butterfly pupae from them.  This is really a wonderful project because 100 percent of the proceeds go back to preserving the rainforest! You can find out more about El Bosque Nuevo and their preservation efforts by clicking here.  It was definitely an interesting ride to the farm, and as Laurie and I would soon find out, paved roads in this part of Costa Rica were way over-rated! We arrived at the farm and met our conference mates. These were all very fascinating people who work at butterfly houses all over the country. Being around them really makes people like Laurie and me feel a lot less weird! My first thought upon arrival (and after counting all of the attendees) was, only one bathroom?? Luckily, there were actually two bathrooms. We were fed a wonderful meal, socialized for a bit, then it was off to bed. Open air rooms, bunkbeds with mosquito nets, and a chorus of snores that drowned out the nocturnal songs of the forest.The next day we were up bright and early for a breakfast of Gallo Pinto, a traditional Costa Rican meal consisting of rice and beans from the previous day, and eggs.

Creative Commons License photo credit: emills1
 Laurie and I ready
for our first hike

After breakfast and converstaions, we started on our first hike. The forest was dry and insect life was a little more scarce then usual, but we really hoped to see some cool wildlife. We traveled deep into the forest, spotting a few interesting things here and there, when someone in the group thought they heard a noise. We followed the noise as it got louder and louder, it was the roar of a dominant male holwer monkey that sent chills down our spines. We thought it could have been miles away, but someone happened to look way up above us, right into the faces of the small troop of Howler Monkeys. With that awesome sight came the end of the trail and we headed back only to stumble upon our first amazing insect! It was a Helicopter Damselfly. A HUGE damselfly with neon-yellow wing tips that shimmered as it glided though the vegetaion around us! What a great first hike.

Creative Commons License photo credit: emills1
Howler Monkeys

The first day really set the tone for our visit at El Bosque Nuevo. We were shown the extent of their reforestation efforts so far, as well as the day to day workings of the farm. We continued to see wonderful things, including Arenal, an active volcano, and even a day at the beach with a beautiful sunset followed by stars you could actually see. We also had continued luck with spotting some great wildlife. Since it was the dry season, the insects were not quite as abundant, but we did manage to find a cute little metallic grasshopper, a really scary bullet ant, and a huge weevil which had been attracted to one of the butterfly traps. Finally, to my delight, we saw a large, unusual katydid (my favorite) on the last night of the trip, yay!

Creative Commons License photo credit: emills1
 Bullet ant – Look at that monster!

After 4 incredible days at El Bosque Nuevo, we said goodbye to our new friends and headed off to our next destination, Cano Negro. Here, we saw a different kind of habitat. There was a lagoon complete with cayman and a host of different bird species, and a secondary rainforest where we saw more howler monkeys. That night, we relaxed in a room with a hot shower, air conditioning, and soft beds!  The next day we were on the road again, heading for Chichagua, which I would recommend to anyone traveling to Costa Rica. The property was in the middle of a breathtakingly beautiful rainforest packed full of wildlife! This habitat was home to more insects and we even saw one poison dart frog! In the morning, we shared our breakfast with some collared aracaris (beautiful toucanettes) and made our way back to Liberia to catch our plane home. This was definitely the trip of a lifetime! Laurie and I were just tickled to see blue morphos flying by us, in their native habitat, along with many other residents of the Butterfly Center. It was a beautiful experience for us. I could go on forever but I’ll leave you at that. We have so many more pictures and if you’d like to see more, just click here! Well, I hope we’ve painted a lovely picture for you all. I hope you’ll come back and see what’s happening in our buggy world!

Creative Commons License photo credit: emills1
Our Bungalow in Cichagua

Erin M
Authored By Erin M Mills

Erin Mills received her undergraduate degree in Entomology from Texas A&M University in 2004, and after a short tour of the pest control industry, joined HMNS as the Cockrell Butterfly Center's Insect Zoo Manager in 2005. Over the years she expanded the butterfly center's live arthropod collection, developed the ever popular "Bugs on Wheels" outreach program, and continued to establish her role as HMNS's insect expert. In October of 2016, she achieved her long time goal of becoming the Director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center and in January of 2021, she joined the team at HMNS Sugar Land as the Director of Nature Programming. Erin leads hikes in Brazos Bend State Park and provides fun, hands-on nature-based experiences at HMNS Sugar Land. As a Board Certified Entomologist, Erin has extensive knowledge of insect identification, ecology, plant relationships, husbandry, really any insect-related topic!

One response to “Buggin Around in Costa Rica”

  1. UKirk says:

    Wow, Costa Rica. After seeing the size of that ant, I may not want to travel there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Become An HMNS Member

With a membership level for everyone; Don't just read about it, see it.

View All Membership Levels

Editor's Picks The Real Moon Hoax That You Haven’t Heard Of Is Darwin relevant today? Oh The Hermannity! The Story of Houston’s Most Beautiful Green Space A Few Member Benefits Most HMNS Members Don’t Know About What The Loss Of The Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro’s Collections Means To The World What Is The Deal With Brontosaurus?!
Follow And Subscribe

Equally Interesting Posts

HMNS at Hermann Park

5555 Hermann Park Dr.
Houston,Texas 77030
(713) 639-4629

Get Directions Offering varies by location
HMNS at Sugar Land

13016 University Blvd.
Sugar Land, Texas 77479
(281) 313-2277

Get Directions Offering varies by location
George Observatory

21901 FM 762 Rd.
Needville, Texas 77461
(281) 242-3055

Get Directions Offering varies by location

Stay in the know. Join our mailing list.