Report back: Butterfly field trip to Verloren Valei

The Lepidopterists’ Society of Africa (LepSoc) hosted a specialist field trip to Verloren Valei on 9 December 2017.

Searching for butterflies in the orchid triangle, Verloren Valei
Searching for butterflies in the orchid triangle, Verloren Valei

The Friends of Verloren Valei invited LepSoc to host a butterfly field trip at Verloren Valei, Saturday, 9 December 2017. LepSoc members Jeremy Dobson, Mark Williams, and Justin, Yolande and Yara Bode led the party.

At 15 months, Yara is the youngest member of the society.

The 9th dawned cool windy, but thankfully rainless. We met the participants in Dullstroom and proceeded to the reserve to pick up the local guides. There is very good butterflying to be had on the public road that runs through the reserve, and we headed off to the vlei area on this road.

The wind was still blowing and butterflies were hard to come by. A few hours’ searching in this area did however yield Clark’s Widow (this sub-species, amissivallis, is only known from Verloren Valei), Paludis Brown, Marsh Acraea, Geranium Bronze and Long-winged Orange Acraea.

Mark had wandered off in search of Warren’s Blue, and while searching for him we found a few Stygionympha wichgrafi wichgrafi (Wichgraf’s Hillside Brown). After locating Mark, who had not found any Warren’s Blue, we headed off into the reserve proper.

Stopping at a stream alongside the road, we managed to find Orange Acraea and Warren’s Blue. The latter is only known from Verloren Valei . One more stop in the reserve provided a fleeting glimpse of a Tite’s Copper[ , but with the weather closing in, we decided to call it a day having recorded a total of 11 species. After saying good bye to the group we headed off to for a relaxing evening. While we may not have recorded a large number of species, we managed to find the most of Verloren Valei specials and both the endemics known only from the reserve. It was clear that the participants, many of who were visiting for the first time, enjoyed being out in this special reserve.

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