Preliminary Report on Insects Collected
at Doyle’s Delight in 2007 excluding Lepidoptera
In 1995 I was invited by John Shuey of The Nature Conservancy
to participate in a focused ecological study at Rio Bravo
Conservation Area. The goal was to test the efficacy of
butterflies and certain beetles for the purpose of rapid
assessment. At the time, neither John nor I had anticipated
that this initial study would turn into a full-fledged countrywide
survey of butterflies and histerid beetles, but that is
exactly what has happened. For the past twelve years, we
have methodically worked our way- mainly southward- sampling
many relatively undisturbed areas along the way. In 2006,
on what was to be our final trip to Belize, we hiked from
the Village of San Jose in the Toledo District to Edwards
Central and Union Camp. The trip had been a wonderful success
and would have been a positive note on which to end our
field studies. However, we were acutely aware of one undisturbed
area we had yet to sample. It was a remote cloud forest
called Doyle’s Delight that years earlier Jan Meerman
had visited and took photographs of some bizarre butterflies.
We were aware that there were no trails to this high spot
in Belize, and that it took about five days to hike there.
Even though we were tempted to travel to this site, getting
there seemed too difficult. Then in February, I got a phone
call from John, asking me if I would be interested in participating
in a scientific expedition to Doyle’s Delight that
was being planned by Sharon Matola of the Belize Zoo. Suddenly,
and quite unexpectedly, that remote cloud forest had become
Insect sampling in and around Doyle’s Delight went
remarkably well. It was my intent to collect bulk samples
of insects using passive traps and to actively search for
insects that could be relatively easily identified. I had
been partnered with Celso Cawich, a Belizean undergraduate
student interested in passalid beetles. Early in the expedition,
I showed Celso methods for finding and collecting passalid
beetles. I also assisted John Shuey in capturing butterflies,
and he and others in our group collected a variety of insects
for me. A total of four arrays of passive traps were established.
Each array consisted of a flight intercept trap and three
baited pitfall traps. Flight intercept traps are composed
of a taut mosquito netting barrier, a rain roof, and collecting
pans. They tend to selectively collect active insects that
use forest trails and riparian corridors as flyways. The
three pitfall traps were baited with dung, carrion, and
rotting mushrooms. The baits were chosen specifically to
attract scarab and hister beetles. Ethylene glycol was used
as a preservative in all of the pitfall traps and the pans
of the single flight intercept trap that was established
away from our camp near the “Dry Creek” area.
Soapy water was substituted for the glycol in the three
flight intercept traps pans established near the campground.
This required that the traps be emptied every other day
in order to ensure that the insects captured in the pans
did not rot. Remarkably, none of the pitfall traps were
disturbed by mammals. Another passive trapping method used
involved yellow pans. The color yellow has been shown to
attract a variety of insects. Plastic yellow bowls filled
with soapy water were placed at varying intervals along
several of the trails and riparian areas. Fortunately, the
light collecting apparatus brought by Jan Meerman for attracting
moths also attracted other insects. This apparatus included
both a black-light and a mercury vapor light. A fair number
of mainly beetles and true bugs were collected at the light.
Active collecting included sifting leaf litter, searching
for insects at night with a headlamp, netting aquatic insects,
and searching for insects in rotting logs and under loose
Inca clathrata sommersi
Some of the insects collected at Doyle’s Delight
were expected to be there. One of these was Chrysina
purulhensis (Monzon & Warner). Bill Warner, one
of the authors of this species predicted that if we were
ever able to visit Doyle’s Delight w e would probably
find this species. A single specimen of this species was
taken at night at the light sheet set up by Jan early in
the trip. This showy ruteline scarab is known to inhabit
the Mountain Pine ridge in Cayo District as well as Guatemala.
A green variant of this species is known from Mountain Pine
Ridge. While not restricted to cloud forest habitats, members
of the genus Chrysina tend to favor these situations in
Mexico and Central America.
Another anticipated find was the carrion beetle Oxelytrum
discicolle (Brulle). A single specimen of this species
was taken at Jan’s light sheet and I noticed several
more when I emptied the carrion baited pitfall traps. The
species was fairly recently reported from the vicinity of
Belmopan, Belize and it’s occurrence in the county
appears to be rather localized. I had been sampling with
carrion virtually country-wide, and the only other place
that I have collected this species was Las Cuevas in the
Cayo District. Recent studies suggest the species is temperature
sensitive, and it is reported to occur in Nicaragua at elevations
between 900 and 1200 meters.
A single specimen of Inca clathrata sommersi Westwood,
missing its abdomen but still alive, was collected by John
Shuey. This large trichiine scarab is reported from Beilze
but it is not very common. The only other specimen we have
collected was taken in the Stann Creek District at Coxcomb
One interesting find that was not anticipated was a species
of whirligig beetle, Dineutus truncatus Sharp.
Several specimens of this rather large surface inhabiting
water beetle were netted at the Waterfall Area. This is
the first country record for this species. In Costa Rica,
this species occurs in still and running water at elevations
from 600 to 1700 meters.
Many other insects were actively gathered by myself and
others and temporarily stored in alcohol or Tupperware containers
have been mounted, labeled and have been or are being sent
to various experts for identification. Celso, working largely
on his own, managed to collect over a 100 passalid beetles
representing at least five species. These will be sent out
for identification as well. With regard to the bulk samples
from the passive traps, I have sorted through the flight
intercept trap sample from the Dry Creek Area only and have
identified most of the histerid beetles from that sample.
Most were an undescribed species of Phelister that I had
picked up in large numbers at Rio Bravo. In addition there
were two specimens of an Operclipygus only known thus far
from Edwards Central. Also in the trap was the second specimen
known of a minute and undescribed species of Idolia. The
other specimen was collected in a flight intercept trap
at Las Cuevas. Also represented were three specimens of
a fairly rare species of Hister, H. montivagus
Lewis that was described from Guatemala and a single specimen
of Hister sallei Marseul which I have taken in undisturbed
forest situations in many places in Belize. Five specimens
of a distinctive new species of Acritus were also trapped.
I have taken this species at Edwards Central and Rio Bravo.
Another histered that both Celso and I collected beneath
oak bark was Plagiogramma frontale (Kirsch). This species
is partial to higher elevations as the only other places
I have found it are Edwards Central and Las Cuevas.
Large numbers of scarabs and a fair number of histerids
as well as rove beetles (Staphylinidae) and carrion beetles
(Silphidae) were collected in the pitfall traps, but I have
yet to sort through any of these samples. I have not yet
touched the yellow pan trap samples, and I left the sifted
leaf litter with Celso to process with a Berlese funnel.
Much work remains to be done but I expect that among the
insects that have been gathered there will be many more
new country records and probably some new species as well.
Ferreira, P. S. F., Pires, E. M., Guides, R. N. C., Mendes,
M. and Coelho, L. A. (2006) Seasonal abundance and sexual
variation in morphometric traits of Oxelytrum discicolle
(Brulle, 1840) (Coleoptera: Silphidae) in a Brazilian Atlantic
Forest Biota Neotropica 6:1-7.
Lewis, G. (1888): Histeridae. Pp.182-244 in Biologia Centrali-Americana.
Volume II part 1. Francis and Taylor, London.
Maes, J-M. and Navarrete-Heredia, J. L. (2002) Silphidae
(Coleoptera) de Nicaragua Dugesiana 9:1-4.
Ochs, G. (1949): A revision of the Gyrinoidea of Central
America. (Col.). Revue de Entomologia 20:253-300.
Peck, S. B. and Anderson, R. S. (1985): Taxonomy, phylogeny
and biogeography of the carrion beetles of Latin America
(Coleoptera: Silphidae) Quaestiones Entomologicae 21:247-317.
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