Nocturnal Butterfly Found in Costa Rica after 98-Year Disappearance

By Dialogo
July 01, 2009

San José, June 30 (EFE).- The nocturnal butterfly Tetrisia florigera not seen in Costa Rica for ninety-eight years, for which reason scientists believed it had disappeared, until a local researcher found a female specimen in the Caribbean region in January, the National Biodiversity Institute (InBio) announced today. According to the Costa Rican institute, the butterfly specimen was collected in the Veragua Rainforest Park, in the province of Limón. As reported by InBio, Costa Rican entomologists found the female specimen in the park’s forest understory, at an elevation of four hundred meters, an important fact because it expands the territorial distribution of the species. The scientific records on Tetrisia florigera, discovered at the beginning of the 1870s, indicate that specimens had been collected previously only at elevations around one thousand meters. According to an official statement by InBio, this butterfly was described by American William Schaus in 1911, and the only previously-collected specimen is in the United States, in the Natural History Museum in Washington, as no Costa Rican museum has had an individual in its collection. “This discovery will allow scientists and students to carry out new studies of the natural history of this species, as well as to increase research and the creation of knowledge about the species that live in our forests and have not yet been named or identified,” the statement emphasized. José Montero, the researcher who found the butterfly, explained that the habits and habitat of Tetrisia are practically unknown to science; moreover, aspects such as diet and metamorphosis can only be observed by raising larvae, for which reason studies in the region will continue. Costa Rica is a small tropical country of scarcely 51,000 square kilometers, but it contains 4.5 percent of the total world biodiversity.