Saturday, June 27, 2009

Golofa pizarro

On the same trip that we found the Megasoma (q.v.) we decided to check out Cusuco National Park (Parque Nacional Cusuco). It is just west of San Pedro Sula on the north coast of Honduras near the Guatemala border. The road to the park goes north from the town of Cofradia. National Parks in Honduras are not always well marked and the road through Cofradia is often rutted and not always intuitive. Once you get through town, you will gain elevation and eventually make it into pine forest. The occasional clearings reveal an extensive montane forest - often shrouded in mist.

We eventually came to the town of Buenos Aires (which doesn't show up on the map) and drove right through it - missing the road to the park. After backtracking, we asked for directions and were directed to an inconspicuous dirt side road that wound through a few rural houses and wound up again to the forest. It was getting dark by this time so we pulled off to the side of the road and set up our light. Since there were only a few things flying at the time, we pitched our tents and went to bed.

A couple of hours later, I stumbled out of the tent to check the light and was startled by the low buzzing sound of insects flying over the light and around the overhanging pine boughs. Then a large beetle hit my head and I instinctively reached out to grab it. It turned out to be one of the remarkable scarabs of Middle America Golofa pizarro. There were several at the light and around the car - among other things. I took this picture of a giant silkmoth (genus Rothschildia) that was resting on the forest floor near the light. You can get an idea of the size by the pine needles it is resting on. They are over six inches long.

The next day we made it to the park and found several students, including a visiting scientist from Great Britain, working on faunal studies. There is a lot of interest in birds, mammals and other vertebrates there and an increasing interest in insects. One student was looking at dung beetles. The director of the park took us to a forested area where they had seen a quetzal the day before. We weren't so lucky. Cusuco is certainly one of the gems of Honduras.

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