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June 15, 2024

Bountiful Butterflies in Costa Rica

It’s estimated that there are about 1,000 different species of butterflies in Costa Rica. 

A majority of these insects will be insanely difficult to identify. Unless, of course, you’re a lepidopterist: a person who studies butterflies.

June and July are some of the best months to see butterflies (and moths) in Costa Rica. In fact, The National Butterfly Center has planned a Butterfly Bonanza in July. On their week-long tour, they’d have to stay up round-the-clock and identify a different species every 10 minutes in order to see all the butterflies Costa Rica has to offer.

For us amateurs, though, here’s a list of three butterflies in Costa Rica that you’ll find the easiest to recognize. Their bright colors serve a number of purposes, from mating reasons, to helping with camouflage, and even warding off predators.  

Dryas iulia, “Julia Butterfly”

Often referred to as the Julia Butterfly (though it’s technically spelled “iulia” not “julia”), look for this brightly orange-colored butterfly near the flowers around your luxury vacation villa. They move quickly,  feeding on nectar as they go.

The male butterflies tend to be a brighter color than the females. Like Gen-Z, their mating behaviors are said to be very complex. It appears they have a prolonged courtship, controlled by the female.

Birds don’t love the flavor of this species, and when they spot these bright orange wings, they may just opt to move on to a palatable meal elsewhere. For your own palatable meal, peruse our Dominical, Uvita and Ojochal Restaurant Guide here.

Siproeta stelenes, “Malachite”

This beauty is black with bright, almost neon, green patches on the wings. It’s often called “Malachite,” named after the mineral malachite which is a similar bright green in color.

This species is quite common, so there’s a good chance you’ll spot them on your upcoming vacation in the Osa. The adults have an eclectic range of food sources, which might include flower nectar for dinner and bird droppings for dessert. 

THE Blue Morpho

And last, but certainly not least, is the Morpho. This is the holy grail of butterflies to see in Costa Rica, and is known as the “Blue Morpho.” While it’s said these butterflies are rare, it’s actually the butterfly that we see, or at least notice, most frequently on early morning walks.

They appear to favor taking the cleared path through the jungle, just like us. Like the Howler Monkey and the Macaws of Dominical, they are most active in the early morning.

Their floaty flying action is quite recognizable, and while they don’t seem to be moving too fast, just try to catch them on video. The trick is to film in slow motion. It took me several tries to capture this two second grainy shot. Wildlife photography is definitely an art!

Let us know in the comments which butterflies you see on your Costa Rica vacation

Dryas iulia, Siproeta stelenes and two-barred flasher photos by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren, (CC BY 2.0) Blue Morpho photo by David Dennis, (CC BY 2.0)

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