Adapted from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter of January 26, 2007
issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve,


You can imagine that we have some outstanding butterflies here, some of them truly gorgeous. There's no fieldguide to Mexican butterflies, but a Mexican butterfly expert, a lepidopterist, did study this Reserve's species and came up with a list of about 650 taxa. Happily, I have access to that fellow's unpublished, home-printed manuscript for a fieldguide for butterflies of Mexico's northern Gulf area, awaiting a publisher.

SIPROETA EPAPHUS, Rusty-tipped PageTherefore, the other day when a butterfly landed on the black charcoal of an old campfire next to me as I sat at the water's edge at the reservoir, I sneaked out my camera and took its picture, which you can see at the right.

Back home, I used the unpublished guide to identify the butterfly. It was SIPROETA EPAPHUS, which Google tells me is graced by the English name of Rusty-tipped Page. At this link I learn that this is a tropical species noted in the US only in one county in New Mexico, but found from northern Mexico through Central America to Peru. Its caterpillar stage eats plants of the Acanthus Family, of which we have plenty, and adults take nectar from "Croton, Cordia, Impatiens, Lantana, and Stachytarpheta; also rotting fruit, dung, and carrion," all of which we possess here in abundance.

What a treat to be able to identify a pretty, new-to-me butterfly. I sure hope that Roberto G. de la Maza Elvira, the dedicated lepidopterist who put this fieldguide together, finds a publisher. You can't imagine what barriers must be overcome by homegrown naturalists in the developing world. I admire anyone who can produce such a work as this under the conditions we have here.