Brazil Trip Recap #3 – More Things With Wings

Continuing the series on my recent trip to Brazil, today I’ve got some butterflies (and one bird and one moth) to show you.

By the way, I just learned something new about butterflies from reading the always-educational posts of The Caterpillar Lab. I already knew that all moths and butterflies were in the order Lepidoptera (scale-winged insects), but I didn’t realize that all butterflies are moths. That little fact helps clarify things in my mind.

Jorge Bizarro (photo from REGUA website)

So one morning I had the pleasure of going out in the field with REGUA’s Research Director, Jorge Bizarro. In this photo he’s holding the the book he co-authored, A Guide to the Butterflies of the Serra dos Orgaos. So obviously he’s a butterfly expert but he’s also interested in all kinds of insects and plants, so we had a wonderful morning of exploring together and chatting about our finds. He took me a short distance down the road to a tract they call the Forest Fragment. We parked on the edge of the paved road and spent the next three hours walking along a two-track road through the forest. I can’t believe I didn’t take pictures of the scenery to show you! Along most of our path the forest sloped up and down on either side of our rutted two-track road until we eventually came out into a relatively flat clearing briefly before turning back.

One of the first insects we found were a trio of White Witch Moths resting on the trunk of a tree on the slope above us. These are very large moths (10-11″ wingspan), and they were out of reach so I couldn’t take a photo with my hand beside one of them. Jorge told me they always rest in this sideways-oriented position rather than with their heads facing up or downward; that was an interesting tidbit. And according to iNaturalist, the larval forms of this moth have never been documented in the 300 years since it was first discovered.

White Witch Moth (Thysania agrippina)

Later I found both the red and white versions of peacock butterflies.

Slightly tattered Red Peacock butterfly (Anartia amathea)
White Peacock butterfly (Anartia jatrophae)

Then there were a couple longwings:

Isabella’s Longwing (Eueides isabella)

Those first three were all aging individuals, as evidenced by their wing tatters. I was pleased to find this next one looking much more fresh. I’m not sure of its name just yet.

I’ve guessed at thsi one until someone can confirm for me: maybe Actinote pellenea

This skipper was photographed on the previous day when I was road-tripping with Alcenir. It conveniently perched on the barbed wire pasture fence so I could shoot this easily from inside the van.

Long-tailed skipper (Urbanus proteus)

Some of the butterflies I saw in Brazil were very similar to some of my home favorites. I saw quite a few of these South American Tropical Buckeyes, which are in the same genus as the Common Buckeye we have in Ohio (Junonia coenia).

South American Tropical Buckeye (Junonia evarete)

And this Orcus Checkered Skipper (Burnsius orcus) looks a great deal like our Common Checkered Skipper (B. communis):

Orcus checkered skipper (Burnsius orcus)

And one of the last butterflies we saw on this morning was this stunning Many-banded Daggerwing; I just wish I’d been able to get a nicer shot of it. It was large and gorgeous as it fluttered about in the sunlight.

Many-banded Daggerwing (Marpesia chiron)

And finally, my favorite bird sighting of the trip was a trio of Guira Cuckoos. These are rather large birds of about 13″ in length, and they’re not known to be very skilled flyers, so perhaps that’s why I was able to see them so well. I first saw them foraging in a tree a short distance from the road as Alcenir was driving me. One of them dropped down to the ground and walked across the road in front of us, then flew up into another tree and posed for my camera.

And speaking of flight capabilities, have you ever had a dream in which you were flying? I don’t mean flying in a plane, I mean using your own body to move through the air. I think this is a fairly common dream, and I’ve had it several times over the years. I always have positive feelings from this type of dream, but I just realized something odd about it: I always “fly” with my arms held out to my sides like a plane, not flapping like a bird or butterfly. I wonder why my subconscious mind generates that sort of flight experience? I can’t stop wondering about this now that I’m aware of it; you’d think that if a human could fly, we would do it more like another animal than a machine, right?

Guira Cuckoo (Guira guira)

Anyway…isn’t that a gorgeous cuckoo?! I wish I could see all birds as well as I got to see this one. Maybe that’s another reason I’ve been more drawn to insects in recent years; besides being fascinating, they’re much easier to get close to!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series so far. I’m certainly enjoying the opportunity to re-live my trip as I write it up for you. Thanks for reading!


  1. Just catching up with your travels, Kim. Some very special specimens here, but that White Witch moth must have been amazing! I think you are very brave to have gone on this trip so bravo to you!! You will reap the rewards over and over I’m sure.


    • Thanks, Ardys. It was a fantastic trip and I’m so glad I pushed myself a little out of my comfort zone. I already feel stronger and more confident about doing it again! (I’ve gotta pop over and check your latest post — doing that now.)


  2. Lovely butterfly and moth photos. I see a wall size framed print hanging in your living room! Loved the tidbit of butterfly and moths being the same order. I will impress a few of my fellow line dancers with that! See you Monday.


I love your comments -- talk to me here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s