Mexico – Veracruz/Oaxaca, May-June 2008

Trip Report for Veracruz – Oaxaca – May-June 2008

Participants: Kim Garwood, Bill Bouton, Kim Davis, Mike Stangeland

Author: Kim Garwood

Itinerary:
Day 1 May 8 – left Texas, drove to Gomez Farias, night at Casa Piedras, 500 pesos/2
Day 2 May 9 – worked La Florida in am, then Encino Road, then Ciudad Mante, Hotel Mante for 2 nights, 580 pesos/2
Day 3 May 10 – Ocampo Road all day
Day 4 May 11 – go to Hotel Taninul in am, then Xilitla, cabanas up the road, 400 pesos each
Day 5 May 12 – drive to Costa Esmeralda, stayed at Best Western, 900 pesos/2
Day 6 May 13 – drive to Mueller’s El Mirador for 2 nights, US$60/person/night
Day 7 May 14 – hike down the barranca, hairstreak city
Day 8 May 15 – drive to Valle Nacional, stayed in hotel Valle Real on plaza, 380 pesos/2
Day 9 May 16 – drive to Oaxaca up Hwy 175, only made it to Km 86, back to Valle Nacional
Day 10 May 17 – drive to Oaxaca, back up Hwy 175. This time made it to Km 100, very cool, only 61 degrees when we started about 9am, got up to 66 in mid afternoon, fog frequently coming and going. Spent our 3rd night in Valle Nacional.
Day 11 May 18 – head for Oaxaca, 3rd time up Hwy 175. Mirador at Km 108, then habitat changed to pines and much drier. Hotel Posada Los Arcos, on east side of Oaxaca on Hwy 190. 500 pesos/2, w/internet in the rooms and easy access for vehicles.
Day 12 May 19 – rain all night and in the morning. We met w/John Kemner for info on locations around Oaxaca. Went back to pullout at Km 205 on Hwy 175 for the afternoon.
Day 13 May 20 – go to Teotitlan del Valle, about 16 km east on hwy 190 from our hotel.
Day 14 May 21 – drive south of Oaxaca on Hwy 175 to Hotel Puesta del Sol at 7,600′ in the pines Km 132, 500 pesos/2, for 2 nights
Day 15 May 22 – drive down to about Km 194, La Soledad/Buena Vista
Day 16 May 23 – on to the coast, Puerto Angel and Zipolite/Mazunte. Stayed at Punta Placer, 800 pesos/2 for a couple of nights.
Day 17 May 24 – R & R on the beach.
Day 18 May 25 – back to the mountains, Puesta del Sol. Finca La Pacifica, streamside bugs.
Day 19 May 26 – back to Oaxaca for 4 nights.
Day 20 May 27 – Teotitlan del Valle.
Day 21 May 28 – up Hwy 175E to the stream, found another pullout.
Day 22 May 29 – up Hwy 175E to higher elevations, went to El Cumbre (the summit).
Day 23 May 30 – over the pass to Valle Nacional for 2 nights.
Day 24 May 31 – back up Hwy 175 to higher elevations.
Day 25 June 1 – drive to Catemaco, Veracruz. Stayed at La Finca, a resort hotel on the lake, 860 pesos/2/night most of the week, 1,250 pesos/2 for Saturday night.
Day 26 June 2 – rained on and off all day, stayed around hotel. Good bugs in the afternoon.
Day 27 June 3 – same as previous day, lots of rain, worked the La Finca ditch later.
Day 28 June 4 – still raining in the am. Drove to the UNAM biological station.
Day 29 June 5 – went up the Ruiz Cortines road, from San Andre Tuxtla.
Day 30 June 6 – back to UNAM. A sunny day!
Day 31 June 7 – back to Ruiz Cortines road.
Day 32 June 8 – drive to Orizaba. Hotel Cascadas, 790 pesos/2.
Day 33 June 9 – back to Veracruz and up to the coast esmeralda. Hotel de Alba, 550 pesos/2.
Day 34 June 10 – drive to Hotel Taninul, 759 pesos/2, 15 km east of Ciudad Valles, 2 nights.
Day 35 June 11 – work the road to Taninul.
Day 36 June 12 – drive to Hotel Mante in Ciudad Mante for 2-3 nights.
Day 37 June 13 – La Florida in the am, above Gomez Farias in the pm.
Day 38 June 14 – El Encino in the am, drove to Ocampo in the pm.
Day 39 June 15 – drive to Victoria and do Canyon del Novillo. Stay our last night at Las Fuertes Mission Hotel for 971 pesos/2, including their fancy buffet breakfast.
Day 40 June 16 – Los Troncones in the am, then drive to Texas.

 

Expenses - we drove about 3,900 miles and spent about 7,200 pesos on gas and tolls, or about $700. The tolls are high around Veracruz, especially going up to Orizaba. The insurance for the truck was a little less than $700. This would be cheaper in a less valuable vehicle, and might be cheaper if you bought it for an entire year, through an online provider like Lewis and Lewis.

Day 1:We had to get Bill’s visa, so we went to Progresso about 9am. It didn’t take long, even though they have revised what you need to do, as of the day before. So we had to bounce between offices more, but were on our way through Progresso in short order. We filled up the truck on the Mexican side of the border, as it is a diesel and diesel fuel is only $2/gallon in Mexico, versus $4/gallon in the US. It took forever to fill it, must have had a very slow pump. We then drove to Gomez Farias with only a lunch stop taking about 6 hours, got our hotel room and went a little ways up the hill from about 4 to 5:30pm. Extremely hot, 101+, and not much activity. One down side to Casa Piedras is they don’t have air conditioning, but they do have fans. Mike & Kim brought along 2 big fans, one for each room, so we had a hurricane and it was fine.

Day 2: The next morning, we went to La Florida first thing, before the locals showed up to go swimming. By 8:30am we were on the trails, seeing lots of Dark Kite-Swallowtails, and getting some nice dorsal shots. There must have been a very fresh hatch, as they were everywhere. Quite a few swallowtails, lots of Variable Swallowtails, Bill got a killer dorsal shot of Thoas, and lots of Melwhites. The bamboo is coming back nicely there, and we had 5 species of satyrs, though no Kendall’s. I think Splendeuptychia, which is the genus for Kendall’s, tend to like bamboo, at least that’s where I see them almost all the time in South America. The bamboo died back at La Florida a year or so ago, and I haven’t seen Kendall’s there since, but it looks like they could show up again shortly. We did have Tailed Satyr, Two-banded or White Satyr, Plain or Pompilio, Carolina (of course) and Gold-stained Satyr. Lots of faded Mexican and Whitened Bluewings, and lots of Malachites. No Purplewings, however, and no Emperors. We’re at the end of the dry season, hoping the rains start soon. Very few skippers as well.

We left La Florida about noon and went north to Encino road, west to the river, across the low water crossing and to the right towards the nacimiento. Few bugs, and unfortunately under the big tree, where it’s ALWAYS muddy, it was completely dry, not a single mud puddle. When I was here in the first of April this was the best puddle party we had the entire 5 day trip, but not now. Nothing. We did see a number of females laying eggs, and Kim Davis got nice shots of a Common Banner and her egg.

Day 3 we went west to the Ocampo road, which is about 1 ½ hours to the west, past the town of Ocampo and up the hill to about 4,500′ in the oaks. There are several good spots to pull over, at large bus stops, and in the fall the eupatorium can be fabulous on this road. But again the dryness was overwhelming. No Dartwhites, no green hairstreaks (this is a great spot for Stained and Mountain Greenstreaks), just a few individuals of some common species. Like Starred Skipper, Salome Yellow, Common Glassywing, etc. It’s always fun to see how the habitat changes as you go up and down the hills on this road, but it’s a very bumpy road and it’s getting worse, due to the trucks. One bridge was out, and we were held up for 15 minutes or so for oncoming traffic to go on a long dirt detour, but when we came back in the mid afternoon they had opened up another dirt detour, so each side could go at the same time, no more waiting.

Day 4 drove by Hotel Taninul on our way to Xilitla, too dry. Got to Xilitla early afternoon, found out they don’t rent out the rooms there anymore. However, the guy recommended some cabanas up the road that worked out fine. We got 3 rooms for 400 pesos/room, Bill’s and mine shared a nice big porch w/a great view over the town of Xilitla. We saw a couple of great bugs, Banner Metalmark/Thisbe lycorias and a lovely hairstreak, Calycopis calus. The hairstreak was on the side of Kim & Mike’s room, and they got great shots.

Day 5 we decided to head over to the coast, which took us through Tamasunchale and Huetla de Reyes, very bad roads and very slow. It took us 8 hours to get to the coast below Papantla, where we stayed in the Best Western because it had internet. The ocean was gorgeous, some of us went swimming and the temperature was perfect.

Day 6 drove to El Mirador, the old hacienda of the Mueller family, where Jorge Mueller is a wonderful host. It’s like staying w/old family friends, and the food is excellent. There are 3 bedrooms which all share 1 bath, and you have to walk through 2 of the bedrooms to get to the bath, so you need to be friendly. But aside from that, I highly recommend it. It was extrememly dry, like everywhere else. Jorge said their rain is quite late. He grows organic coffee, and has 137 hectares of shade grown coffee and a great barranca. Email – jorgecucsi@hotmail.com.

Day 7 we hiked down into the barrance, after Jorge insisted, and he was correct. There is a stream that runs all year around, even after 5 months of extreme dry, and the shaded areas next to the stream were swarming with butterflies, mostly Ithomiinae and Hairstreaks. We must have had 10 or 12 species of hairstreaks that we photographed, and missed many more. Especially as it got into the hot afternoon, the hairstreaks seemed to come down into the cool shade and at times were very quiet and non-spooky. We could move the leaves and they just sat there. A number of new species for all of us. The hike back up was steep and sweaty, but it was well worth it. 3-4 species of clearwings and several tigerwings as well. I’ve never seen so many Mechanitis, at least 2 species and probably 3, once we go through all our photos. This was the best butterflying we had the whole trip so far, probably more butterflies than we had seen the entire previous week.

Day 8 – unfortunately we had to leave the Mueller’s, though we’ll be back. Now we drove to Veracruz and onto Valle Nacional, on hwy 175 on the way up to Oaxaca, 45 minutes west of Tuxtepec. Tomorrow we plan to work the east slope of 175, see what we see.

Day 9 – made it up to Km 86 on Hwy 175, stopping at several great spots. The weather started out hot and clear, but by noon was clouding up and getting cool. We saw quite a few new species, as we were mostly up about 4,000 to 5,000′, in cloud forest. It was particularly good about Km 70 to 80, near La Esperanza, theoretical home of Esperanza Swallowtail, which we did not see. We did see Magnificant Swallowtail/Pterourus garamas, a couple of them. We saw our first Actinote, Mapwings, some new satyrs, a nice variety of species. Around 2:30pm we realized we weren’t going to make it to Oaxaca today. It’s only about 175 km from Valle Nacional, but it’s very slow going, twisty steep roads through the mountains, and lots of great looking habitat to lure you into stopping and walking the road. Good birds, too, this is a famous birding road. The problem is there aren’t any places to stay up in the mountains, so it’s Valle Nacional or Oaxaca. Tomorrow we’ll leave Valle Nacional early, skipping breakfast (which took an hour in a local restaurant) and get higher up before we start working the roadside. You could walk most of this road and see good things all along it.

Day 10 - Got some great bugs today, wonderful shots of Corita Daggerwing/Marpesia corita, Orange Mapwing/Hypanartia lethe and Trimaculata Mapwing/H. trimaculata autumna, Pandama 88/Diaethria pandama, and a couple of high elevation satyrs. Km 87 had a good pullout where we had the Marpesia, and Km 94 was good for the others. Made it to Km 100, but it was cool and foggy. Had a strong thunderstorm the previous night, so lots of limbs were down on the road and things were wet. Looks like maybe the rains are finally starting, as it was raining this evening as well back in town. But in spite of the cool weather butterflies keep flying by now and then. We saw Cloud-forest King/Anetia thirza several times, always as a fly-by so we couldn’t get any photos, but great looks.

Day 11 – left Valle Nacional, determined to make it to Oaxaca. As we went over the pass, about Km 108, the habitat changed dramatically to pines and much drier. Not many butterflies on the way down on the other side, as it was very cool, in the 50′s, and overcast. We stopped several places, and found Oyamel Skipper/Evergreen Poan/Poanes monticola, a beautiful skipper, and Mexican Pine-satyr/Paramacera xicaque were common around 8,500′. Then as we came close to Oaxaca, about Km 205, we pulled into a trashy roadside pullout and noticed Kite-Swallowtails in the debris. Very cooperative Mexican or Guatemalan Kite-Swallowtails/Protographium eipdaus right at the truck, then Bill walked down to the stream and said ‘hey, you guys might want to come down here’. There were fresh White-crescent Swallowtails/Mimoides thymbraes mudpuddling, and they even posed open wings. Then we kept finding more and more skippers, several new ones including Variable or Thornscrub Mottled-Skipper/Codatractrus uvydixa and Yellow-haired Skipper/Cogia cajeta.

Day 12 - rainy in the morning, so we met w/John Kemner who graciously came over to our hotel to show us some good locations. He was a fount of information, told us about enough places to keep you busy for several months. Many of his spots are way back of beyond, so you really need a good vehicle and a willingness to get back into isolated country. He’s most interested in finding new species and rare ones, while we’re more interested in seeing a bigger selection. It would certainly be fun to come back and spend some time going out in the field w/him, he would have lots to show you. He was picking up some researchers from UNAM that afternoon and they were taking off for 10 days of fieldwork, so it was particularly nice of him to take the time to come talk to us. In the afternoon the sun came out and we went back to our trash pullout about Km 205, where we saw a number of different species from the day before. The most exciting was Black-veined Leafwing/Consul excellens, which was seen by the other three but not by Kim G, damn. Just fly bys, unfortunately, it wouldn’t let anyone even see it perched, let alone photograph it. Also got our first looks at Creamy Stripestreak/Arawacus jada, one of my favorite hairstreaks, and finally got photos of White-striped Groundstreak/Calycopis clarina, which were laying eggs on vines. Several of the species we had seen the day before were not there, no White-crescent Swallowtail/Mimoides thymbraeus at the stream edge. Some folks got good shots of West-mexican Spurwing/Antigonus funebris

Day 13 - Spend most of the day at Teotitlan del Valle, taking the dirt road up through and beyond the well known weaving village up into the scrubby mountains. The rains are having a definite beneficial effect, as it looks greener everyday. We find a number of fresh species, including a large hatch of Marina Patch/Chlosyne marina which are all over a particular corner on the road. Mike sees another Black-veined Leafwing/Consul excellens, and we put out bait at a few spots hoping to lure it down. No luck w/the excellens, but we do get a Blomfild’s Beauty/Smyrna blomfildi at our bait. This area looks very much like southeast Arizona, and we walk up a number of rocky washes and ravines w/frequent puddles from last night’s rains Mike also gets our first Mexican Sootywing/Pholisora mejicanus, another species I would love to see. Not great photos, but good enough for id. Several swallowtails, the Mexican Kites/Protographium epidaus, White-crescent/Mimoides thymbraeus and Two-tailed/Pterourus multicaudatus sailing around.

The flowers on the bushes are just starting to bloom; it looks as if it would be very productive in another week or so. We may try and come back. We get good shots of an Amblyscirtes that we can’t identify. It seems to be between A. cassus and aenas, not as orange as cassus and missing the pale spot on the fw, but aenas is only in northern Mexico. We’ll send it to the expert. Andy later tells us it’s the southern seggregate of Brock’s Roadside-Skipper/Amblyscirtes brocki. Also a couple of different black w/white fringe cloudywing types. One looks very like it could be Dark or Tehuacana Cloudywing/Achalarus tehuacana, and another looks more like Northern Cloudywing/Thorybes pylades or maybe Mexican Cloudywing/T. mexicana.

We eat a late lunch at a very nice restaurant back in the village, where they sell rugs and weavings as well. A number of people walking or driving by on the road stop and talk, in spanish or english, curious as to what we’re doing, but very friendly. Everyone we have talked to on this entire trip has been very friendly, and think it’s cool that we’re down in Mexico looking at ‘their’ butterflies. I suspect they might not be as friendly if we were swinging nets.

Along Hwy 175, especially on the atlantic slope around Esperanza and Matates, there are many signs saying it is a protected area and specifically saying collecting of insects is prohibited. But when we show people cameras and say we’re photographing, they smile and seem to approve. This includes truck drivers, old toothless women carrying supplies, young people. John Kemner told us he has collected all over w/the UNAM people, however, and has never had any trouble. But we have heard of other collectors who were threatened and felt afraid and had to leave.

Day 14 - drive through Oaxaca City, lots of fun, and south on Hwy 175 towards the Pacific coast. Here we spend a few nights at the very comfortable hotel Puesta del Sol, Km 132 from Oaxaca, high up close to the pass at 7,600′. Blue mockingbirds, spotted towhees, yellow-eyed juncos, silky flycatchers, white-eared hummers and american robins are common from our cabin, eating pyracantha and cherries from the bushes. It’s about a 4 hour drive from Oaxaca on twisty mountain roads through dry scrubby habitat, not much to see butterfly wise.

At the elevation of our hotel, right north of the village of San Jose del Pacifico, it is often foggy, and it gets that way soon after we get here in the afternoon. We drive on to the south after checking in, down maybe 30 km, but see very little as it is cool and very foggy on our way back. However Bill and Mike find our first firetip, Orange-rimmed Skipper/Chalypyge chalybea, feeding on mango remains by a stream. There is tasty food in the restaurant and warm blankets on the good beds, so we all have a great night’s sleep.

Day 15 - We wake to sunshine and clear views of the fabulous surrounding mountains. Our cabins are staggered on a steep hill, so each has a great view, but a steep walk up to the restaurant, especially at this elevation for those of us from south Texas. We head down the hill to the west again, but this is much different from yesterday. It’s a beautiful day, sunshine and scattered clouds. The weather stays in our favor and we have sun most of the day. We stop at several likely looking pullouts on the road, finding a nice overgrown truck path about Km 181, where we see our first White Morpho/Morpho polyphemus sailing by like a huge kleenex. Lots of Ardys Crescents/Anthanassa ardys, which we photograph in abundance, looking for several new species of Anthanassa for us. Bill finds a great Black Hairstreak/Ocaria ocrisia.

Several species of hummingbirds fighting over blooming flowers, hermits and garnet-throated. We find Orange-patched Satyr/Euptychia fetna and get good shots. We continue on down the hill to La Soledada/Buena Vista, about Km 183, where there is a steep dirt road leading up from the 2 small miscelanea shops on the right. Up a short ways from the people we find Nebulosa Crescent/Anthanassa nebulosa for the first time, plus 2 species of clearwings, Pteronymia rufocincta and Greta annetta moschion. There are many interesting dirt roads leading off the highway, and you could spend a number of days exploring the possibilities.

We turn around before Km 200 and return to Puesta del Sol, as there is no other place to stay except down on the coast. Tonight Bill makes a great fire in our cabin, as a bonus.

Day 16 - off to the lowlands on the coast. Saw amazingly few butterflies on our way downslope. We stopped several times in good looking habitat as we dropped in elevation, but never found a great spot. Had some new species, Simple Patch/Chlosyne hippodrome and good looks at West-mexican Spurwing/Antigonus funebris about 2,100′, then backtracked up to Km 196/Pluma Hidalgo about 3,800′ and took the side road, but not much flying. We did see lots of White Morphos, however, they frequently flew in front of the truck or floated by.

It seemed odd, checking under bridges at creeks, nothing at all along the wet sides. We had been told that Pluma Hidalgo is a good spot, but I suspect that’s at different times of the year. Once we dropped below the rain forest section it dried out very quickly and became desert scrub w/cactus. The changes were amazing, from pines up high through oaks into rain forest, then to desert, in less than 120 kms. People we talked to all say July/August is the best time for butterflies, in the rainy season.

The hotel we were aiming for, Rancho Cerro Largo, was closed when we found it, on the beach between Zipolite and Mazunte, and the caretaker suggested going another 5 minutes in to town where we stayed at Punta Placer, lovely cabanas on the sand w/wireless internet and great porches and huge bathrooms w/open stone showers, everything all curves and bamboo. Probably one of the more upscale places in town. The most beautiful blue water right outside, w/big piles of rocks out in the surf and gorgeous bays. There’s a string of little hotels, many just small rooms to rent quite cheaply to mostly young Europeans and surfers. Very similar to Cabo many years ago, before development. The quintessential Mexican west coast beach, w/palapas and little restaurants and all of life’s necessities right there. Including tasty margharitas and pina coladas, of which too many were consumed that evening.

Day 17 – took the day off to enjoy the beach and the waves. About 85 to 90 degrees, a nice wind, brilliant sun and perfect temperature water. We spent quite a bit of time in the water and just lying around in the shade, watching the frigatebirds and boobies fly by. After the twisty mountain roads it was enjoyable to spend a day out of the truck. We saw both dark and one of the white kite-swallowtails fly by, along w/a number of large Pierids and a few dark skippers, but things rarely landed.

Day 18 - back in the truck and back up the mountains to Puesta del Sol. It’s so dry on the coast that we felt it wasn’t worth our time to go west or east on Hwy 200 and hug the shore. The rains usually start here in mid June/July, so late May is the driest time of the year. Same for much of Mexico, I think. I’ve learned on this trip that next time I will definitely wait until a little later in the summer to come for butterflies. It would be interesting to see how the bugs are at the end of the rainy season, in Sept/Oct/Nov. That’s when they are the best in the Rio Grande Valley and NE Mexico, but I thought it would be different this far south, but I was wrong. Oh well, sounds like another trip.
It was 83 degrees before 8am when we left Mazunte, after a night of barking dogs at the hotel. The owners seem to have disappeared early Saturday afternoon, and were never seen again, nor was there anybody else around, just their german shephard tied under our window. So we moved him out to the beach and retied him, but he continued to make a lot of noise. Not a very restful night.
Puerto Angel is about Km 250, so 120 Km to drive to Puesta del Sol at Km 132. As we climbed up Hwy 175 heading back to Oaxaca, we stopped at Finca La Pacifica about Km 202, 1,600′, and walked down a side road where we found a stream crossing the road. Good spot for skippers, finally. Several new species for the trip, Common Anastrus/Bluevent/Anastrus sempiternus, Common Bentwing/Bent-Skipper/Ebrietas anacreon, and maybe another species of Ebrietas, plus Scallopwings. A new grass skipper, a gorgeous fresh glowing orange Godman’s Skipper/Mexican Underskipper/Zariaspes mythecus, a first for all of us.
As we continued up the mountain it cooled rapidly. We stopped again at La Soledad, Km 183, for lunch, but not much there. Interestingly, we’ve stopped here 3 times, and seen very different amounts of butterflies each time. As we climbed higher the fog closed in, and by the time we got to Km 145 it was thick. Sometimes you couldn’t see the road at all, pretty scary on these Mexican mountian roads. Kim D did a great job, and got us back to San Jose del Pacifico in one piece, where we stopped at the Café Express for the best coffees around. Thus fortified, we made it the remaining 1 km to the hotel by 2:30, where it was dark and foggy and wet.

Day 19 – On to Oaxaca, another 250 km away. Started off the day w/2 new hairstreaks in the gardens of Hotel Puesta del Sol about 9am, basking in the cool early high mountain sun at 7,600′, Micandra cyda and Laothus erybathis. Then driving back to Oaxaca we stopped at a few spots and found our first Red Satyr/Megistro rubricatus of the trip at a scruffy dry spot about 5,700′ 100 Km from Oaxaca.

After we checked into Posada Los Arcos again, we headed up to our nearby trashy pullout at Km 205 Hwy 175E, to see if much had changed in the last week. The species mix was different, no Texan Crescents/Anthanassa texana which had been abundant, and several new skippers. We had Red-studded Skipper/Noctuana stator and Pacuvius Duskywing/Erynnis pacuvius at the stream, and a really fresh Zela Metalmark/Emesis zela, which has less orange on the hw than the ones we’re used to in Arizona and Sonora.

Day 20 - heavy clouds this morning, we were sure it was going to pour, but then it cleared about 10am so we took off for Teotitlan del Valle. Finally got good looks at Mexican Sootywing/Pholisora mejicanus, but very difficult to get decent photos. We could see the black veins on the vhw through binoculars, but he wouldn’t let us flash him, or get too close. Kim D finally got some usable shots, but it would be nice to get some really good ones. We also had White-rayed Patch/Chlosyne ehrenbergii, one of the Oaxacan specialities.

Lots of sulphurs were out, including Tailed Sulphur/Phoebis neocypris, quite a difference from our last trip out here a week or so ago. Also lots of Costa Rican White/Pallid Tilewhite/Hesperocharis costaricensis mudpuddling in the wet dirt in the bottom of the washes, and we hadn’t seen one last week. The hills looked noticeably greener, and there were small puddles down a number of the rocky ravines. This time we shot Desert Cloudywing/Achalarus casica instead of Tehuacana Cloudywing/Achalarus tehuacana, though we’ll have to compare the photos closely. By mid afternoon dark clouds were forming again, so we got back to the hotel a little after 4pm.

Day 21 - up Hwy 175E, tried to get to El Cumbre at 2,700 meters, but the clouds got dark and heavy so we went back down to our favorite trashy pullout at Km 205, close to town. We then found another pullout, even closer to town on the same stream, where a dirt track ran down from the highway. So we explored around here, several different dirt tracks all running down and intersecting the stream at different swimming holes. We spent most of the day here, moving up and downstream. Several new species were found, probably the most exciting were Zobera oaxaquena, which looks similar to a powdered-skipper/Systasea, and our first greenstreak, Erora nitetis. Both were well photographed. Bill did an especially good job of sneaking up on the hairstreak, which was mudpuddling in the midst of a large group of sulphurs and blues. Mike also got good shots of our first Piruna, Piruna brunnea.

Day 22 - made it up to El Cumbre at about 8,500′, but it was quite cool to start, 51 degrees when we arrived about 10am. We finally had a gorgeous clear sunny day, but the weather can change quickly here. It’s 22 km up Hwy 175 from the intersection w/Hwy 190 on the east side of Oaxaca. Steep twisty typical Mexican mountain roads, w/slow trucks, so it can take quite a while to drive it. They have set up an eco-tourism office there, right off the highway, w/the World Wildlife Fund emblem in the window, and charged us 50 pesos each, or 200 pesos, for a day pass to drive their 2 roads through very interesting habitat. It was well worth it, especially to encourage local communities to preserve their lands.

We did the southeast road first, because it looked like it was getting more sun, and this was a good choice. We went in a few km and found milkweed blooming along the road, so we parked and walked the road. More new species, the most exciting was getting great shots of Marbled White/Black-pointed Tilewhite/Hesperocharis graphites. They were landing on one corner and nectaring on beautiful red lilies, very cooperative. Plus another green hairstreak, this time Stained Greenstreak/Cyanophrys agricolor. We also got Tailed Sister/Adelpha diocles, one of the few sisters we’ve had on this trip. There were also loads of Sonoran Banded-Skippers/Autochton pseudocellus, which were fun to see as we had had Golden Banded-Skipper/Autochton cellus the day before along the stream at lower elevations. Sometimes there would be half a dozen or more Sonoran Banded-Skippers on the milkweed.

We also did the northwest road after lunch, but it was much drier, with huge agaves, and almost no butterflies. We only went in a few km, and they told us there was a campground 6 km in, so it might be better further along. But the road was fairly steep and twisty, so we decided to head back down to our favorite trashy pullouts along the stream close to town, for our last afternoon at Oaxaca. Got good shots of Bluegray Lasaia/Gray Bluemark/Lasaia maria maria, same species we had seen at Teotitlan but couldn’t get close to.

Day 23 - went up over the mountains on Hwy 175 back to Valle Nacional and the atlantic wet slope. Had fog and very cool up the Oaxacan side of the mountain, so no bugs. It was 46 degrees at the top, about 9,000′ at Km 108, and completely fogged in, so we kept going. Fortunately we stopped about Km 96, just 12 km down from the top, and found Jonaspyge jonas resting on leaves next to the road. It was drizzling and still only a cool 54 degrees. I think he had been hit by a car, as he didn’t want to fly.

Then our next stop, Km 87, we found Cloud-forest King/Anetia thirza feeding on purple flowers, in the drizzle, and got great shots. There were also Dark Doberes/Cloud-forest Sicklewing/Doberes anticus flying around a tree with small white flowers. We had as many as four flying at one time, but they were landing 30-40′ up above the road.

So, as usual in poor weather, we didn’t have many species but the ones we found were special, and they posed for good looks and photos. A little lower Kim D got a shot at Starred Satyr/Oxeoschistus tauropolis. Our final stop was at Km 53, just 3 km from Valle Nacional, where we wandered into a banana plantation about 800′ and found a number of new lowland species. Bill got great shots of an Owl, Caligo brasiliensis, and he also found a number of Moon or Luna Satyr/Pierella luna.

Day 24 – back up Hwy 175 to higher elevations. It’s amazing how much things had changed since we were here a few weeks ago. There were lots of Starred Satyrs/Oxeoschistus tauropolis and Junos/Dione juno, both very fresh. One of the best bugs was a very large orange and black grass skipper which obligingly posed for photos, and turned out to be our first Dalla of the trip, Chiapas Skipperling/Dalla nubes at Km 74, about 4,200′. We also got good photos of a large very dark skipper with lovely tan fringe and two bright white spots on the dfw, which I think is Angular Brown-eye/Enosis angularis.

We ate dinner at our favorite local restaurant several blocks down the street from our hotel, across from the Pemex, and a thunderstorm blew in while we were eating. Heavy rain, but fortunately it backed off, even though Mike had run back to the hotel to get our umbrellas.

Day 25 - off to Catemaco, Veracruz. Had a mostly rainy travel day, sometimes very heavy rain, as tropical depression Arthur hit the Yucatan and spilled over onto Veracruz. We made it to our hotel La Finca, a very nice 4 star spa/hotel right on Lake Catemaco, just south of town at Km 147 on hwy 180, the main coastal highway. It’s easy to get to without going through Catemaco, which is a big plus for us in the giant truck. And wireless internet in our rooms! We could sit in our room and watch snail kites flying over the lake, along with lots of egrets, herons, kingfishers, least grebes, cormorants, etc.

On the way to Catemaco we detoured up a short paved road out of San Andres Tuxtla to Ruiz Cortines, just to check it out. This is a great little road, unmarked and hard to find but well worth it. I spent a couple of mornings here in early August, 2007 and it was hairstreak heaven. It’s at the south edge of town, right across from the Goodyear tire store, with a Pemex on the east side of Hwy 180 just north of the road that leads up out of town. It’s only about 10-12 km up to the top, and the first 6 km or so is agriculture, but keep on going. It changes to good scrubby habitat, then higher up the trees get taller.

The road reaches about 3,400′ at the top, and the forest is great, tall and dark. You can stay at the ejido in Ruiz Cortines, past the ecological preserve, but it’s very basic. It will be interesting to see how the area compares to my last trip, when the cordia was blooming all along the road in the scrub. Today we had rain, and the higher we went the harder the rain got, so we turned around and headed on to the hotel. The weather forcast says 2 more days of 100% chance of rain, so it may be a couple of days of working on the computer on photos. Vamos a ver.

Day 26 - bands of rain heavy at times came through all day. Sometimes in between the sun came out. Kim D & Mike walked into town, then came back and rousted Kim G & Bill from the computer. They had found lots of butterflies in the weedy roadside edge next to the hotel dump. We had Long-tailed Metalmark/Sword-tailed Beautymark/Rhetus arcius and Bumblebee Metalmark/Square-spotted Yellowmark/Baeotis zonata posing very obligingly for photos, as well as lots of hairstreaks.

There was a very fresh Ruddy Daggerwing/Marpesia petreus that was cooperative, even on Bill’s finger, then shortly afterwards was nailed by an assassin bug. Life is short. I suspect the rain all morning made them more interested in feeding than worrying about photographers. Another very enjoyable dinner outside, with spectacular rainbows over the lake. We have the resort almost entirely to ourselves, with lots of very attentive staff. I could get used to this.

Day 27 – still raining all morning, but in the afternoon the sun came out about 2pm and we worked the La Finca ditch again, next to the dump. This provides great amusement to all the folks walking, driving and riding their bikes on the road, up above us. They laugh, stop and point, ask us what are we doing? They joke with the maids, who are working on the upper levels of the hotel. A group of teenage girls walked by, calling to us, and Mike pointed his camera at them and they went wild with giggles. We saw a couple of new greenstreaks, Tropical/Cyanophrys herodotus and Goodson’s/C. goodsoni, and some Telea Hairstreak/Chlorostrymon telea, a worn one and a very fresh one. Our trip list is up to 51 species of hairstreaks. We’re seeing lots of female Large Spurwing/Deathmask Spurwing/Antigonus nearchus, but no males.

Day 28 – not as dark for breakfast, outside by the pool, but then it rained again right afterwards. We had our usual breakfast of pancakes and a plate of fresh tasty fruit, café con leche and orange juice. Here in Veracruz I love the coffee, as they make something called a lechero, which is mostly hot milk with a little coffee, in a tall glass with cinnamon and foam on top. Very fancy, and delicious. The others mostly drink café americano, which is black. No imagination. We’re planning to drive through Catemaco and around the lake, if we get some sun.

We took off about 10am, out past the old hotel I used to use, Playa Azul, and towards Sontecomapan. Continued to the UNAM Biological Station, about 12 km past Sontecomapan. We had bits and pieces of sun, some drizzle, not tons of butterflies but a number of new ones. Keel-billed Toucans were loudly in evidence, which is always fun. Mike found a fabulous tiny hairstreak, Red-flocked Ministreak/Purple-webbed Ministreak/Ministrymon phrutus, and we also got good shots of another Ministrymon, M. coronta/Great Ministreak. Noticeable larger than most other Ministreaks, hence the common name. Lots of brown skippers, both spreadwings and grass skippers. Very fresh Veined White-skippers/Heliopetes arsalte, and 2 species of Redrings/Pyrrhogyra, first of that genus for the trip.

Day 29 – Ruiz Cortines road, up to about 1,000 meters. Did not see any white morphos today, did see them in August of 2007, and others saw them in early November 2007. But we did see a number of new skippers, and higher up got some new clearwings as well. Up at the edge of the taller dark forest we found a blooming tree that the clearwings liked, as well as one of the Potamanaxas skippers, Felder’s Skipper/Starred Potam/P. unifasciata. We also had our first Clearwinged Mimic-White/Dismorphia theucharila, coming to the same tree.

Bill got a killer shot of Brilliant Anastrus/Brilliant Bluevent/Anastrus neaeris, one I had never seen in Mexico. It was still cool and overcast most of the day, around 74 degrees, so we were lucky to see as much as we did. We had to sort through a couple of zillion blues; they went up in a cloud everytime a car went by, and lots of Yojoa Scrub-Hairstreaks/Strymon yojoa. I didn’t realize they could be so variable, I keep trying to turn them into something else. Bill, Kim D and Mike almost stepped on a large, 5′+, snake that certainly looked like a viper, which showed up suddenly in a clearing they had all been stomping around in for a while, so that surprised everyone.

Bill and I had great looks at Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner, which had a nest right by the road in a bank. When we got back to the hotel it was sunny and in the high 80′s, so some of us checked out the ditch. The white flowers seemed to be past their prime, and there weren’t near as many bugs, but there was a fresh Goodson’s Greenstreak/Cyanophrys goodsoni.

Day 30 – drove back out to UNAM Biological Station, in nice lowland rainforest at around 400′. Worked the road whenever we saw decent forest. Much of the road goes through cattle pasture, but there is some decent forest left, mostly around the UNAM station past Sontecompan??? Today was bright and sunny, high around 90 degrees, so it was quite different than a few days ago.

We had a number of new species, lots of Pale Daggerwings/Marpesia harmonia, 2 species of Cattleheart/Parides iphidamas and P. sesotris, and a fresh Victorine Swallowtail/ Pterourus menatius victorinus that was very friendly. For skippers we had Fridericus Skipper/Geyer’s Zera/Ouleus fridericus in several places, and our first Common Blue-Skipper/Quadrus cerialis, who was very territorial and repeatedly returned to the same leaf at the edge of the woods for many photos. Surprising it’s taken so long to see one of those. 2 species of Battus swallowtails flew by several times, the lovely dark green ones with some yellow on the hw. We even saw one in the weedy ditch next to the hotel when we got back, so they must have just hatched out. They always seem to be in the canopy and rarely come down and pose.

One of the more interesting aspects of this trip has been seeing how different species come and go so quickly in the same location. We also had a spectacularly bright purple metalmark, Menander Metalmark/Shining-blue Graylor/Menander menander, which would not let us shoot him but almost blinded us by perching above in the sunlight and dive bombing us. He was the most electric glowing purple I’ve ever seen. Our weather changed quickly. Most of the day was gorgeous, then during dinner outside at the hotel some very dark clouds built up over the lake, and afterwards we had thunder and lightning. Hopefully it will blow itself out overnight.

Day 31 – Ruiz Cortines road. A cloudy morning, in the low 80′s at the hotel, about mid 70′s up the hill. We saw several new species, most bugs really fresh. Great Emesis/Great Tanmark/Emesis mandana was there, a lovely Tanned/Lugubris Blue-Skipper/Quadrus lugubris and several green hairstreaks, probably mostly Tropical Greenstreak/Cyanophrys herodotus, but we did have at least one Mountain Greenstreak/Cyanophrys longula. We also had a number of crackers for the first time, including Brownish Cracker/Hamadryas iphthime.

We went back up to the flowering tree at the edge of the tall forest, where it started to rain in ernest, but there were still several clearwings coming to the tree, including Leila Clearwing/Ithomia leila. More thunderstorms tonight, and heavy rain came in while we ate out under the canopy. Now that the rains appear to have started, we’re getting newly hatched species daily.

We’re still missing many of the Brushfoots/Nymphalidae. Almost no Sisters, no Emperors, very few Leafwings or Owls. Many of the fruit eating Brushfoots are what seem to be missing, so they may wait and hatch out later in the rains, when there would be more rotting fruit around in the forest. Our species count for the trip so far is as follows: skippers/Hesperiidae 155, brushfoots/Nymphalidae 133, swallowtails/Papilionidae 18, whites and sulphurs/Pieridae 33, hairstreaks/Lycaenidae 62, metalmarks/Riodinidae 35.

Day 32 - left our home away from home, La Finca, and drove to Orizaba. Overcast most of the day, with rain late afternoon at the Hotel Cascadas. From the parking lot of the hotel you can see the mountain peak of Orizaba on a clear day, but not today. It is the tallest peak in Mexico, over 19,000′, and snow covered all year. This hotel is on the edge of a large canyon that has 500 steps going down into it, which people use for exercise. It’s a nice place to stay, but we can’t get internet, even in the lobby, and a large party is going on, with live music, in the salon next to the restaurant. Hopefully it won’t go too late, as this is Sunday night.

The stream down in the bottom of the canyon was running high and muddy. We didn’t have many butterflies wandering around the grounds, due to the weather. When I was here before, in August, the gardens were quite good for a number of species, including Charcoal White/Perute charops, Tiger Mimic-white/Dismorphia amphione, and several green Urbanus longtails. Today, unfortunately, we don’t see any of those. Kim D and Mike do find Quilted Metalmark/Voltinia umbra and a nice Red-studded Skipper/Noctuana stator, but most of the other bugs we see are common widespread ones, like Crimson Patch/Chlosyne janais and Gold-snouted Scallopwing/Staphylus vulgata.

Day 33 - 65 degrees when we get up and dark and overcast, so we pack up and leave after breakfast. Too bad, because this place can be really good. We run into Jeff Glassberg at breakfast, and he tells us he has seen 150 species in a day at this hotel.

We drive back to Veracruz, getting hit again with 3 high tolls on the cuota, close to 300 pesos for 120 km, then turn north to Poza Rica and the costa esmeralda. There’s a string of hotels of varying levels, from sleezy dumps to upscale spa/resorts. We get north of Nauntla and try the Best Western again, but they’re full w/a busload of tourists. It appears they get most of their business from tours. So we continue a short way north and try the Hotel de Alba, which lures us with a sign saying ‘we speak english, and internet’. Being suckers for internet hookups, we take it.

The rooms are simple but decent, good a/c, good showers, internet in the rooms, good views of the beach, wind in the coconut palms, black sand, what’s not to like? Not many butterflies, but hey, you can’t have everything. I do find a nice Great Cycadian/Eumaeus childrenae in the walkway to the beach, hanging on for dear life in the wind tunnel. He lets me pick him up on my finger and take him upstairs and show him to the others, where we all take photos. This section of the drive is pretty boring and long. It takes a good 16 hours from Texas to Veracruz, and the slowest part is from Tampico south, along the coast. Tomorrow we’ll head for Taninul, between Tampico and Ciudad Valles.

Day 34 - a long driving day, for us, up the coast to Tampico and inland on hwy 70 to Hotel Taninul, 15 km east of Ciudad Valles. Lots of rough road, topes, slow trucks, and we got stopped twice by military checkpoints. They must not be used to eco tourists on this stretch of road, or maybe because we were coming from the port city of Tampico, but they seemed quite confused as to why we were there and what we were doing, so they took their time and opened all the compartments of the truck, rooted through all our luggage, asked lots of questions. It only took about 15 minutes or so, each time, but it did take time. The main things they’re looking for are guns or drugs, and we’re not carrying either of those, so we weren’t worried, but it’s still a hassle.

The checkpoints in SLP and Tamaulipas appear to be used to carloads of gringos looked for birds and/or butterflies and usually wave us through, but these guys didn’t seem to have run into this before. We brought out my Butterflies of NE Mexico and showed it to them, explained that Bill was a ‘maestro de biologia’ and that seemed to help. They liked the photos in my book, and I made sure to open the book to the pages in the front where there is the welcome in spanish from the tourismo director of Nuevo Leon.

Anyway, we finally made it to the hotel, where the entrance road is about 2 km long and can be very good to work. The bahinia mexicana was in full bloom and bringing in every Pierid from miles around. It was about 4pm and darkening rapidly for an afternoon thunderstorm, but the butterflies seemed frantic to feed on the flowers. So we ran around until about 6pm, when the skies finally opened up and we had to dash back into the truck.

Day 35 - spent all day walking up and down the 2 km entrance road to the hotel. Added a number of whites and yellows that we hadn’t seen so far, including Statira/Aphrissa statira and Lyside/Kircogonia lyside. Both angled-sulphurs were abundant, which was interesting as we hadn’t seen them in quite a while. The Yellow Angled-sulphurs/Anteos maerula were spectacularly fresh, a beautiful bright lime green below, as pretty as I’ve ever seen them.

We were surrounded by swirling yellow and white butterflies all day, plus several species of swallowtails and some new skippers. Mike and Kim had a nice Vacerra, we had a couple of Mercurial Skippers/Proteides mercurius, at least 2 different Silverdrops/Epargyreus and nice photos of White-edged Longtail/Urbanus albimargo. There’s been lots of rain here, lots of standing water along both sides of the road in the fields, and the sulphur pools are flooding over their edges, flowing through the grounds more than ankle deep.

Day 36 - worked the Taninul road for a couple of hours this morning, then drove to Ciudad Mante and got rooms at the Hotel Mante for the next couple of nights. The number of sulphurs seemed lower this morning, maybe they drowned after the last 2 nights of heavy rains.

It was very humid and warm, 90 degrees, so we sweat like pigs, even at 9:30am. There seemed to be more flashers around, we saw Gilbert’s/Astraptes alector, male and female, Yellow-tipped/Astraptes anaphus and Two-barred/Astraptes fulgerator. I’ve seen Frosted Flasher/Astraptes alardes here, it’s where I got my photos, but that was in November. Driving up to Tamaulipas, the rains appear to have been much less, so we’ll see how it is tomorrow at La Florida.

Day 37 - went first thing to La Florida. The water was higher than I’ve seen it, almost flooding to the round walled area in the middle, and completely covering the gravel bar under a couple feet of water. We had a zillion Dingy Purplewings/Eunica monima, with lots of purple for once, and large numbers of both species of Daggerwings/Marpesia and both species of Bluewings/Myscelia. All of them extremely fresh. Not a lot of skippers or hairstreaks, but we did get our first Damo Hairstreaks/Pseudolycaena damo.

The bus stop, right across from the dirt road that goes to La Florida, a couple of miles in from the highway on the road to Gomez Farias, was wet and had hundred of butterflies mudpuddling each time we stopped by. In the middle of all the Daggerwings and Purplewings was one super fresh Hammock Skipper/Polygonus leo, again with lots of purple sheen. After lunch (peanut butter and ritz crackers and an apple) we went up to Gomez Farias and beyond the town, working the start of the cobblestone road to Alta Cima. Bill found a fresh Smeared Ruby-eye/Tromba xanthura that was most obliging. Nice to see such large numbers of such wonderfully fresh bugs.

Day 38 – went to El Encino, a little north of Gomez Farias, and took the road to the west. The main low water crossing over the river was completely flooded, about a foot over the cement dike you usually drive over on, so we couldn’t cross. But we found lots of butterflies flying at the earlier crossing, which was dry, and a few other spots we stopped at before the main crossing. Got nice shots of one of the first Pipevine Swallowtails/Battus philenor we’ve seen, and a good puddling party of Giants and Broad-banded Swallowtails/Heraclides astyalus.

There were lots of skippers flying, very different species from yesterday, even though it’s only about 10-20 miles away from Gomez. Everything continued to be very fresh. One new skipper was Yellow-rimmed Scarlet-eye/Ocyba calathana. Several gorgeous Mercurial Skippers/Proteides mercurius, and some Polythrix longtail skippers.

Then we drove west on the Ocampo road to the new road down to El Naranjo, which is about 6 km west of Ocampo. In October this was fabulous, south about 8-12 km away from the sugar cane fields, but not now. Just the usual large numbers of sulphurs and bluewings, so it wasn’t worth our time to do it. Coming back we had to wait for some road work, where they were replacing a large bridge. We were told it was going to be an hour wait or so, then the flagman suggested we ‘might’ be able to do the closed diversion, where it was very muddy. He warned me to watch out for the charcos, only I didn’t know what they were. He told me the water was about a foot deep, so we didn’t dare stop once we were committed. Mike did a good job of driving us through, even though we slipped and slid quite a bit and I thought we were stuck a couple of times. We found out later charcos are puddles, well these were more than a few puddles. But we made it through, so that was our big excitement for the day.

Day 39 – drive to Victoria and head straight to Novillo Canyon, where you drive in through the gravel quarry on the southwest side of town. We find a huge congregation of swallowtails and sulphurs on the back side of the gravel piles, and because the trucks aren’t running on Sunday the butterflies are everywhere. This turns out to be our best place, because there is a steady stream of cars going up the canyon for a family day by the water. Lots of Ornythions and Broad-banded, plus finally our first Ruby-spotted Swallowtails/Heraclides anchisiades. It’s nice having so many of the first 2 to compare side by side. Also good looks at fresh male Pavon Emperors/Doxocopa pavon and finally Band-celled Sister/Adelpha fessonia.

After lunch we head further up the mountain, going back to the paved road and turning right, taking the old road to San Luis Potosi. It’s beautiful country, very green from the recent rains, and almost no roads into it except for the twisty highway. Gorgeous views. Several stops later we get close to the top, Altas Cumbres about 4,000′ at km 155, and stumble onto Superb Cycadian/Eumaeus childrenae caterpillars on cycads. We had been seeing them flying frequently, but hadn’t thought about finding larvae. So of course we all had to photograph them. Mike & Kim found larvae of several different instars and some empty pupa cases. Beautiful red and white larvae.

The hotel we stayed at is on the south side of town, on hwy 85. It was about 700 pesos in March, but had raised the price to the posted 971, which now includes 2 buffet breakfasts at 70 pesos each. We also had the great timing to share the hotel w/an enormous busload of ‘special needs’ kids, like some sort of special olympics, who are running wild in the hotel. Don’t think I’ll come back here again, time to go back to the Paradise Inn.

Day 40 – Los Troncones first thing in the morning. It was quite slow at the early part of the road, before the gate where you have to pay. The local ejidos have fixed it up inside and now charge 10 pesos/person to enter. My experience had been that the butterflies were better before the gate, as it wasn’t as chopped. But that wasn’t true this time. We were about ready to leave, as we weren’t seeing much. Kim D had found a pupa of Zebra Longwing/Heliconius charithonia, and there were several Zebras hanging around, probably males waiting for the female to hatch. Two of them landed on the pupa and spread their wings, preventing others from landing. It would have been fun to watch and see when she came out. Then someone drove down the road and stopped to talk to us. He turned out to be the manager of the park at the end of the road, and when we told him we were looking for butterflies, he invited us to go in for free. Told us to go to the bridge, where there were lots of butterflies. This used to be a great place when it was a drive through the stream crossing, then they built a cement bridge and moved all the gravel around.

The last few times I had been there we saw nothing, but today was another story. When we got there, maybe a mile or so from the entrance, the gravel bars were covered with hundreds of swallowtails, leafwings and skippers. We went wild, it was fabulous. We spend several hours just there, photographing like crazy. We saw our only Guava Skipper/Phocides polybius, several Polythrix skippers, and a couple of new swallowtails, Palamedes and Torquatus. It was interesting as we didn’t see any Daggerwings, while we had had tons of them back in La Florida around Gomez, just 2 hours away. We finally had to drag ourselves away and drive the 4-5 hours back to Texas, where we turned in the car permit and our visas at the border and made it back for a nice dinner at the Republic of the Rio Grande in McAllen. All in all, a good trip, lots of great photos and good food. We saw a huge variation in habitat, from wet lowland tropical rain forest to dry desert scrub and west coast decidious forest to high elevation cloud forest. One of the amazing things about Mexico is how quickly the habitat changes in a short distance at times.

Final counts:
Skippers/Hesperiidae – 182
Swallowtails/Papilionidae – 25
Whites & Sulphurs/Pieridae – 36
Brushfoots/Nymphalidae - 146
Hairstreaks & Blues/Lycaenidae – 64
Metalmarks/Riodinidae – 37
Total = 490 species, plus a few that may be identified later