Costa Rica is worldwide known by its rich biodiversity. A country full of birds, plants, reptiles, frogs and……. moths! The tropics are home to a vast diversity of this interesting group that is barely known by science. Taking this into consideration, we decided to create a big event for the National Moth Week.
The activity took place at Las Arrieras Nature Reserve, in the Caribbean lowlands of the country, being one of the most diverse regions of Costa Rica! The Reserve protects more than 60 acres of tropical rainforest, rivers, swamps and it also have small patches of disturbed habitat that are in process of reforestation. The variety of habitats enables a lot of niches that moths occupy, resulting in a massive diversity of species!
The event was held on July 27-28. Luck was on our side, as we had perfect climate conditions, despite this being a very rainy place (it is a Rainforest after all). Twelve people participated in the moth-watching event, anxious to learn about these mysterious creatures.
We had three different setups for the moths to be attracted to light (blacklight and fluorescent bulbs were used). Turning on our lights at 18:00, the activity of moths started to warm as the night advanced. The firsts species came from the Crambidae and Pyralidae families, followed by other groups like Notodontidae, Geometridae and Arctiinae appearing later on.
People were especially attracted to the diversity in forms and colors of geometers and tiger moths, but what really caught all of our attention was the enormous Automeris belti with its striking eyelike patterns in the hindwings!
But we not only saw moths, we had nightwalks in the inside of the forest, where we found more insects and frogs! We played a Bingo with the species of moths that were appearing at the traps and games regarding the tropical nature of our country! In the traps we also had the presence of other insects such as praying mantis, giant cockroaches, dobsonflies, beetles, a couple of mantidflies and even a Bullet Ant (the insect responsible of one the most painful stings in the world!).
By the end of the night, everyone was completely satisfied because of the high diversity of moths that we saw and the time spent meeting people that are also interested in this amazing group of insects!
Las Arrieras Nature Reserve showed us more than 120 species of macromoths in only 6 hours! The tropics are incredible and we only can imagine the infinite mysteries that this group is hiding!