New Thread - 2 day count from Belize

Shueyi at Shueyi at
Fri Oct 23 12:15:14 EDT 1998

I will combine a response to all questions that came in over night into this
one post.

First the issue of references - DeVries' field guides are the best for use in
the field.  Because Belize is a fairly low-diversity tropical country (there
is exactly 1 known entirely endemic butterfly), and is mostly low elevation,
the "generic lowland tropical fauna" of Costa Rica is also the bulk of the
Belize fauna.  Thus 90% or higher of the species you see in Belize will be in
DeVries.  However, you have to take the DeVries ranges with a grain of salt.
Often, his ranges would make it seem very unlikely that many species would be
possible for a northern country like Belize. 

I also use the two De la Maza volumes for Mexico and Chiapas to fine tune
DeVries.  These are not suitable for use in the field.  But they pick up the
more northern tropical species of Central America quite well, and also provide
insights into families which DeVries does not include - like hairstreaks and
skippers (which together account for over half the species likely to be

There is a small but highly visible endemic Yucatan butterfly fauna (about 100
species total - maybe 40 of which are in the families covered by DeVries).
Obviously, DeVries misses these species entirely, but he has species that are
close enough to confuse you.  If you are in the northern scrub forests, you
should be especially careful about relying exclusively on the Costa Rican

And, Jan Merman is currently working on a field guide to Belize and adjacent
Guatemala and Mexico.  He will include about 250+ species of swallowtails,
pierids and nymphalids.  This should be published in about a year.  I've seen
text drafts and the plates, and it looks as if this will be a pretty solid
contribution to the northern neotropics literature.

As for hairstreaks and skippers, you just have to know these groups.  I
collect, and I keep a synoptic collection of species at home as well as much
of the technical literature on these groups.  These are also the two families
where undescribed species are most likely to be encountered, and I and others
are currently putting together a paper which will describe about 12 new
species from Belize.

Travel Questions:

Getting to Belize is easy, you just fly there (you do need a passport though).
Airfare from the use is usually $5-600.  Costs in Belize are much higher than
in Latin America in general - you will find no nice $5 hotels or $1 meals in
this country.

Traveling in Belize is easy if you speak English or Spanish or preferably
both.  English is the official language, but Spanish infiltrates along the
borders.  Many small towns are essentially Spanish speaking.  I usually pick
up a rental truck (which is very expensive but worth it if you are serious
about mobility).  But the bus system is also very good and easy to use.  They
can get hot and crowded.

Belize has many "jungle resorts" which are very expensive to stay in (> $100
US per night) but which offer great collecting opportunities.  Blue Creek is
an exception and runs US$65 per night - meals included.  You can contact
International Zoological Expeditions (IZE) for reservations at

Usually I stay in local hotels, which run about $25 US per night, and
occasionally camp in the Maya Mountains.  I never make pre-planned
arrangements for accommodations, as you can always find a hotel in the small
cities, and I want the flexibility to go where the bugs are.  And I truly
encourage people who visit to be mobile.  

Belize offers easy access to a nice variety of habitat types, and if you have
a truck, you can be in true wilderness almost every day.  

If you are interested in collecting in Belize I encourage you to take a look
at the article in the Lep News for details and regulations.

If you are interested in "butterfly watching" IZE may offer a trip to Blue
Creek next May.  Drop me a personal email if you want me to keep you posted
about this potential trip.  

Also I can email the species list out to anyone who requests it.


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