One of the reasons why I like to collect insects is because of the large amount of effort I have to put in capturing them. I like the challenge of catching fast and elusive butterflies, and it feels good displaying them after my legs turn weak chasing the butterflies to and fro in rough terrain. Which is your most difficult specimen to capture so far? Feel free to post pictures.
Certainly when I was younger, with shorter legs, what we knew as Clouded yellows = Colias croceus used to give us some trouble, as they have a strong zig-zagging flight and a six sense for survival, especially hard to catch as we had mum's home made nets. I regret to say I have no images from those days. I expect we gave some amusement to the local dog walkers to see us wee loons dashing around the field chasing butterflies. Not one person cared to comment or showed any disapproval, we were the last of the boys here with nets, when one could roam free and enjoy the countryside, climb trees, make dens, chase butterflies and be chased by the local farmer " get off my land" without ever dreaming that one day all the boys and girls would be at home glued to mobile phones and i pads.
The Purple Emperor Apatura iris gave some trouble, especially when the dead rabbits placed to lure them by Victorian collectors started to fail, for some unknown reason and then collectors like Ian Heslop invented those nets on very, very long poles to reach the tops of oak trees where iris felt much safer. How Heslop and others were able to control and weld such nets on a forty foot or more pole, heaven knows, but I should have given much to watch them in action, strong arms I think and a lot of luck.
Then there were many and there are still those today, that seek the hidden and remote places of this world, and even resort to climbing trees, hanging high in a harness on ropes to sweep butterflies off the blossom blooming in the canopy, with long poled nets. Remarkable they are indeed.
As far as I can remember, here are some difficult catches (made or failed):
- Parnassius delphius black form because of the difficulty of the terrain (steep slope in a rocky scree in Kyrgyzstan); - Stichophthalma godfreyi in Ko Chang (Thailand) because it was the first one I saw and I was so excited that I missed it! The butterfly was standing in the middle of the road and illuminated it with a magnificent blue glow! - Some Charaxes (Tanzania) and Polyura (Sulawesi) captured in flight! - Some Morpho and Heraclides thoas collected in a place in French Guiana (a clearing in the forest near Saint-Jean-du-Maroni) known to be abundant in Bothrops atrox (we spend our time watching where we put our feet and we are very clumsy with the net)! - In the same kind of situation, collecting Caligo in Belize at dusk (Lodge Pook's Hill) when you can not see what's going on on the path! - Again in French Guiana, capturing Parides near Moutouchi Lodge and discovering at my feet a very long and strong Lachesis muta (superb snake, moreover). Luckily, despite the darkness, I saw it at the last moment and did not walk on it. It was a path (rich in butterflies) that I traveled every day at least once, if not two. - And finally, again near Pooks' Hill in Belize, in pursuit of Parides and other butterflies and, looking towards the ground, had the impression that my sight was blurred: the ground became shifting; in fact, I was in the midst of an army of Eciton ants.
And yet, many people see entomologists as quiet people in their office busy contemplating pinned insects!
About Lachesis muta, the path was so dark under the canopy and I was so stressed that I missed the picture. Here is another photo from the MNHN of Paris :
And a photo from Bothrops atrox I made in another location (Saül in French Guyana) :
About snakes, this one I met on the bank of the Approuague river (french Guyana), Eunectes murinus, a couple of minutes after collecting Helicopis cupido. Impressive, especially in size (at least 5 meters long - the snake, not the Riodinid !) although still quiet ...
I quote : "The Purple Emperor Apatura iris gave some trouble, especially when the dead rabbits placed to lure them by Victorian collectors started to fail, for some unknown reason ..."
In France, especially in the Forest of Dreux on the borders of Normandy, I easily attract Apatura iris & A. ilia with the following lures: - urine (you have to perform the mixion every day at the same place) - corpses of toads or frogs - pieces of a "real" French cheese; "real" that is to say a cheese that really stinks (Epoisse, Munster, Camembert very advanced). In the genre, I wonder if the Chinese fish sauce would be appropriate (nuoc mam style). I propose to try it soon.
Once, in the Sologne Forest, I collected A. iris on a dog dung (be careful if you want to preserve the pocket net !).
Two pictures : A. ilia on french cheese and A. iris & A. ilia on dead toad :
I quote : "then collectors like Ian Heslop invented those nets on very, very long poles to reach the tops of oak trees where iris felt much safer. How Heslop and others were able to control and weld such nets on a forty foot or more pole, heaven knows, but I should have given much to watch them in action, strong arms I think and a lot of luck."
Below, a photo taken in Ecuador where my friends are trying to capture a Dalla sp. (Hesperiidae) with a very long net. As for me, I own two. A Czech made and the second American metal from BioQuip. With the latter, and all its parts, the whole is really difficult to handle! This is how I vainly tried to capture Morpho telemachus flying about ten meters above the ground. It's so heavy that you miss the butterfly every time. Better to use a lure (blue or orange) to capture these Morpho; it's much more efficient! As for the first net (the Czech fiberglass), in Papua, it mainly used to suspend my mosquito net! These nets with very long handle are only useful when the butterfly is clearly visible and still not very active (the morning, for example).
Interesting JMG. Here is Heslop with his high net in 1955 outside of his home.
Male and very occasionally female A. iris are often seen on the ground today in the UK at damp patches. Sometimes on Dung of various kinds. The males are very inquisitive butterflies and I have had them on my shoe, leg, and hand but not yet on my head
One of my hardest captures was the rare hairstreak (rare in the US, anyway! )Chlorostrymon maesites on Stock Island in the Florida Keys back in 1979. The butterflies were a canopy species, and so small and fast that they looked like bees flying around the treetops. But there were a lot of bees up there, too. Had to use a long "Heslop" net, take a swipe at the buzzing little cloud, bring it down and see what had been caught... took most of the day trying, but I got a pair of the Lycaenids!
I quote : "Male and very occasionally female A. iris are often seen on the ground today in the UK at damp patches. Sometimes on Dung of various kinds. The males are very inquisitive butterflies and I have had them on my shoe, leg, and hand but not yet on my head ".
Four new photos, all made in the Dreux Forest: - Apatura iris mud-puddling on the path - A. iris on a dog dung - A. ilia visiting the house - A. ilia : it came on my hand to pump the sweat (bad picture made with an old iPhone and sample well damaged).
Charaxes brutus, Ch. Varanes ssp and Graphium antheus/policenes ssp were the hardest to chase. This is my childhood memories from Maputo, Mozambique. Ch.varanes flies like a rocket from point A to B. Ch. Brutus is always scoring a laptimes on the top of Acacia trees. No chance with baits. Gr policenes and antheus both has unpredictable traectory flight and very fast too. Very hard to catch in a good condition. Nothing is compared here, in Moscow, Russia. Maybe L.Populi and A.Iris/Ilia ssp. But making some traps on Betula trees and quiet chasing helps a lot.
Tbh, the most frustrating species for me has been the UK Brown Hairstreak, which I used to see from time to time every year when I was back living in England. When I had a motorbike, I used to travel along the old A45 from Cambridge to Ipswich, and there were several stopping points where I could find them, but always tantalisingly out of reach of a fold-up net, on the other side of a ditch, or too high, or just too flighty. Or up the old A604 to the Alconbury and the Stukeleys. In Brampton Wood, I found it difficult to see them, being overgrown until fairly recently. I never saw any when I had a telephoto lens with me, and by the age of 40 I thought nothing more about them, engrossed in my professional work to the exclusion of my hobbies. I eventually caught a couple of imperfect specimens in my 50s, using a makeshift net, one is a voucher in my collection. And then I saw one on my patio, only a couple of years ago, posing obligingly for me. Best specimen I didn't net!
Post by exoticimports on Mar 18, 2019 14:37:07 GMT
For years I watched some sort of lycaenid flit around the top of a mango tree immediately in front of my hotel balcony. They would never come down, and my net wasn't long enough.
Then one day a big thunderstorm came in. I sat in the room and saw something flash at the sliding door window. I got up, opened the door, and in flew one of these lycaenid. Then another did it. Hypochrysops.