Montezuma's Mariposario...
A Visit to the Butterfly Gardens


Not just enjoyable, today was quite educational too... a visit to Montezuma's very own - Mariposario.

Owned by the Bickle family - operated by brothers Josh and Ryan - it's located high atop the town, in very close proximity to the Montezuma Waterfalls.

And yes - given its location - surrounded by jungle... it's a great spot to catch a glimpse of some of the local wildlife. Howler and capuchin monkeys, birds of various kinds, and of course...

Mariposario Boo
Boo!

Owls?

Well, yes... there are owls too. But actually - what you're looking at above, is a close up of an owl butterfly!

Mariposario Josh Bickle
Josh Bickle

And it - along with the vibrant blue morpho, are easily the two most popular species - here at the gardens.

In fact - morphos are bred in captivity, right here on the premises.

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Well - early morning, just as Josh had recommended - it was the perfect time to visit the gardens... many of the butterflies in their more active states.

The tour was about to begin... please come along for the read!








Touring Montezuma's Mariposario

Meeting up with Josh - a tour of the Mariposario was about to begin.

But before heading over to the actual enclosure - the giant netting area that contains the many various species of butterflies on the premises... we made our way down a small path - leading into the jungle.

And stopping at a tree I'd seen many times in Costa Rica - it's bark covered with many large spikes...

Mariposario Pachote
Josh Standing Beside a Pachote Tree

...Josh went on to describe it, as a pachote.

Quite unique - these trees, during the drier times of the year - December through April to be exact... they shed their leaves to retain moisture. And another interesting thing... pachote trees are often planted as 'living fence posts' marking off boundaries around the country.

Looking to the forest floor - next, he pointed to a fungus known as mycelium.

Mariposario Howler Monkey
A Howling Howler Monkey...

The biggest (longest?) organism on the planet - this fungus can grow to cover an area of just about 10 square kilometers!

Wow.

And yes - there was more...

As Josh continued to explain - the jungle surrounding Montezuma, is home to all sorts of different wildlife.

Throughout the day - you can often hear the family of howler monkeys, howling away amongst the canopy. And even today - we could here a flock of crimson-breasted parakeets - singing throughout the trees.

It's just so rich in diversity here!

Mariposario Daniel and Jeff
With Daniel at the Mariposario

Well soon enough, it was time to head on over to the butterfly enclosure.

And it was just in time to meet up with Daniel, grounds keeper at the Mariposario.

Taking a moment - when you first step into the enclosure... you can see all sorts of butterflies zipping around.

Home to some 12 species of butterflies in total - along with 200 different species of plants... Josh led the way around the enclosure -- more interesting things soon to learn!

Take termites for example...

Mariposario Termite Nest
Josh - Pointing Out a Termite Nest

This large nest - as seen in the photo above - is composed of wood pulp and feces, and held together by sticky glue substance, secreted by the termites.

Zooming in - you can see the little glue guns on their heads...

Mariposario Termites
Termites with their Tiny Little Glue Guns...

As Josh explained - sometimes a colony of ants, will make an attempt at battle with the termites. Coupling as a defense mechanism, these glue guns come in handy, warding them off.

Amazing creatures! But yes - getting on to the butterflies now :-)...

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By far - the two most popular species at the Mariposario - are the owl butterfly, and the blue morpho.

Mariposario Owl Butterfly
An Owl Butterfly

Here to the left - is the very same owl butterfly as the first image at the top of this page...

Only zoomed out.

The perfect illusion - these butterflies have quite the advantage, when it comes to scaring off would-be predators.

Something else...

At dusk - you'll often spot male owl butterflies... colliding into one another - an act of braveness - the winners, with rights to select a female for mating.

Continuing on...

Soon, Josh pointed out one of the most unique plants on the Rich Coast...

Mariposario Blue Morpho
Birds of Paradise, and a Vibrant Blue Morpho...

Birds of Paradise.

As Josh explained - this is a favorite plant for butterflies to both live on (as babies) - and feed on too, especially on the sugar at the very tip.

Mariposario Blue Morpho
Butterflies!

Normally though - they are either one or the other - host or feeder.

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Well, soon enough - after exploring the gardens a little bit further...

...we eventually arrived at the lab - where blue morpho eggs are taken - after being collected from host plants like mountain almonds and bloodwoods.

And busy inside - we met up with Elanor Wolff - taking part in the Mariposario's work/stay program...




A Work/Stay at the Mariposario...

First entering the lab - Elanor Wolff, was busy working way - tending to the many baby blue morphos - eggs and caterpillars alike...

Mariposario Work Stay
Taking Care of Baby Butterflies...

Working a total of 4 hours a day - 5 days a week, it was her favorite part of the experience - caring for the butterflies and watching them grow between the various phases of their lives.

From small bright green eggs... baby caterpillars hatch - and over a 24 hour period...

Mariposario Blue Morpho Life Cycle
Blue Morpho Butterfly Life Cycle

...grow to full size.

Then - after 4 months in the chrysalis stage (not to be confused with a cocoon)...

Mariposario Blue Morpho Butterfly
A Brand New Butterfly

A beautiful blue morpho butterfly is born!

...the entire life cycle process - takes around 115 days.

Mariposario Blue Morpho Butterfly Wing
A Blue Morpho Butterfly Wing

And did you know?

Blue morpho butterflies aren't actually blue at all!

Zooming waaaaay in on their wings...

You'll find thousands upon thousands of cones - spaced so evenly and perfectly...

...that blue light is the only part of the spectrum - not canceled out.

No pigment involved what-so-ever.

Again. Amazing!

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Elanor went on a bit more about her experience working and living in Montezuma Costa Rica...

Here for a month, she mentioned how Montezuma is an extra special place - super laid back... beaches and a beautiful waterfall - just down the road.

As she put it - touristy, yet totally doesn't feel like it!

Mariposario Daniel and Elanor
Daniel and Elanor - Working Together in the Butterfly Gardens

Definitely something she'd recommend to others...




And so - yet another interesting experience, here on the Rich Coast - had completed.

Thanking Josh, Daniel and Elanor - it was goodbye until next time...

Will see you again soon!