Butterflies in Akumal, Quintana Roo

Patrick Foley patfoley at csus.edu
Wed Jan 2 16:18:25 EST 2002

Dear Lepsters,

My family just spent a week in Akumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico, at the
growing edge of relentless coastal development. While much of our time
was spent snorkeling and walking around ruins, I did learn a little
about the local plants and pollinators (Local bookstores are hopeless;
The Botanic Garden in Puerto Morelos and the Centro Ecologico Akumal are
of some help). Here is a tentative list of butterflies seen (most of
them handled and released) in disturbed, secondary vegetation
(especially near a soccer field) in Akumal.

I used DeVries 1987, The Butterflies of Costa Rica for identification.
This is a wonderful book for a naturalist in the field, but it lacks
skippers and lycaenids (I saw no Riodinids). There is a good checklist
of butterflies from Tulum to Sian Ka'an: de la Maza, E. R. y J. B. Creel
1992. Estudio preliminar de la diversidad de mariposaas de la reserva de
la Biosfera de Sian Ka'an, Quintana Roo. p 217-239 IN Navarro, D. and E.
S. Morales (eds.) Diversidad Biologica en la Reserva de la Biosfera de
Sian Ka'an Quintana Roo, Mexico Vol II. Centro de Investigaciones de
Quintana Roo, Chetumal. Opler's 1999 Western Butterflies (which gives
lots of neotropical strays and such) and Minno and Emmel's 1993
Butterflies of the Florida Keys contain most of the species, but leave
out some. Roberto de la Maza Ramirez 1987, Mariposas Mexicanas is a
beautiful work with almost all of the species I saw (it does not flirt
with the common ugly skippers), but is hard to get and not a field guide
-- too large and not enough discussion of discriminating marks. It does
have photographs, distributions, phenologies for 651 species including
some skippers and lycaenids.

Butterflies seen at Akumal 27-30 Dec 2001

Papilionidae none

Ascia monuste, Great Southern White
Phoebis sennae, Cloudless Sulfur
Phoebis argante, Apricot Sulfur
Eurema dina, Dina Yellow

Danaus gilippus, Queen
Hamadryas guatemala, Guatemalan calico
Anartia jatrophae, White Peacock
Anartia fatima, Fatima
Junonia evarete, West Indian Buckeye
Heliconius charitonius, Zebra
Dryas julia, Julia
Agraulis vanillae, Gulf Fritillary
Dynamine mylitta, Mylitta Green Wing
Saw a Morpho? in a spider web, largely wrapped

a couple unidentified

Pyrgus oileus, Tropical Checkered Skipper
Hylephila phyleus, Fiery Skipper
Erynnis sp., Duskywing
glimpsed a long tailed Urbanus

I may easily have missed some orange Batesian and Muellerian mimics
flying with the numerous Julias, Queens and Gulf Fritillaries, or a
large sulfur among the Phoebis species that came close enough to catch.
Someone needs to do a field guide to tropical Lycaenids.

The vegetation was secondary growth. Nearby vegetation included Low and
Median Tropical Semievergreen Forest and Mangroves.There are no field
guides to the plants of the Yucatan. Standley's 1930 book has no keys,
occasional descriptions, many missing species and is sadly outdated. Not
to mention he hadn't visited the Yucatan! There were several vines,
shrubs and herbs in flower including Bidens, Eupatorium, Ipomoea,
Asclepiadacious vines, Caesalpinoid shrubs and herbaceous borages. The
best single book I know of to get close is Gentry, A.H. 1993, A Field
Guide to the Families and Genera of Woody Plants of Northwest Sout
America, Conservation International, Washington, D. C. I wish there were
a manual Flora of the Mayan lands, and I gather that a brief natural
history leaves the publisher this spring.

Patrick Foley
patfoley at csus.edu


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