2000 French Guiana

This is just a short page of photos taken during an entomological trip to French Guiana (northern South America) between 22nd November and 9th December. The trip was led by Andrew Neild, a professional Lepidopterist, expert on Neotropical butterflies and author of “The Butterflies of Venezuela“.

There were just 4 of us (Andrew, myself and Ian & Soula Steven) – Ian was after butterflies, I made a complete fool of myself running around after wasps & bees and Andrew shared his time out between us, dividing whatever he caught with the most appropriate person.

The trip was timed to coincide with the end of the dry and the beginning of the wet season and we pretty much got it spot on. The weather was always hot (32C during the day, 23C at night) and usually sunny but the frequency of (very) heavy downpours got more and more throughout the trip. These wet periods didn’t hinder us much though because it tended to concentrate insect activity to the sunny spells.

Me taking a close-up photo of a female Morpho deidamia along the Piste Saut Leodate near Tonnegrande - I don't collect butterflies but I couldn't resist taking photographs whenever I could. As you can see the butterfly is tucking in to a fermenting plantain that we hung up as a lure. These lures proved very successful in attracting Morpho, Prepona and other Nymphalidae and getting close photos was no problem.

Me standing beneath on of the most magnificent trees I think I have ever seen - absolutely fantastic - it was a real privilage. Towering high above us mere humans, they block out much of the direct sunlight and at ground level all you see if the vast trunks and the thick carpet of giant leaves covering the forest floor.

A forest track to a hill top along the Regina road, just before the Cacao turnoff. This was a superb locality and showed great promise but the weather was very bad that day and we didn't see much of interest. Notice how small I look against the trees - it is often very difficult to get over the scale of the forest but everything is tiny in comparison to the immense trees!

The forest canopy at Fourgasie - a superb piece of rainforest along the south-eastern flank of the Montaigne de Kaw. Unfortunately we saw several freshly cleared areas that appear to have been cut for either agriculture or housing/hotel developments so the area is unlikely to remain in such good condiion in future years.

Ian & I posing along the Piste St. Elie with our airconditioned, 4WD, Toyota Hilux hire car. At km 15 along this track there was even a newly built forest shelter for people who wanted a place to string up their hammocks and camp for the night. I am not one for roughing it but this shelter even made me think about doing some camping next time we go back.

A photo taken looking back up the road from km 11 along the Piste St. Elie. It was close to here that we had the priviliage of watching a Harpy Eagle and a troop of Marmosets at close quarters.

A group photo taken at the end of a day spent along the Piste St. Elie - a beautiful forest track stretching for over 20km through gorgeous primary and secondary rainforest south-east of Sinnamary. From left to right - Soula & Ian Steven, Andrew Neild and me (Chris Raper). Insect collecting was a fair part of the reason for going there (there huge numbers of undescribed species out there) but the experience of being surrounded by such marvelous tropical rainforest was totally awe inspiring and I must admit to spending most of my day just sitting around looking at it all with a big smile on my face!

Yves Bowen was our host at "La Tikilili", a house near Tonnegrande with two very comfortable self-catering chalets. The small monkey on his shoulder is their children's pet, Attila the marmoset!

As you can see, Attila wasn't always on his best behaviour and he had a particular fondness for nibbing people's ankles - especially mine!

A closeup of Attila!

The above photos are all (c) Andrew Neild, 2000.

The next batch of photos are all taken from my old slides from the holiday. The quality is a bit rough in places but they have been scanned and recovered from some really terrible slides!

5 Replies to “2000 French Guiana”

  1. Loved all pics and description of the Guiana. I too was all TOO taken by it (hope to make it there someday again…). I am much of “rare and unobvious” entomologist, found your web while surfing for pics of Giganteus…my FG collection was nothing but DESTROYED during our recent transatlantic move from USA to GER, TitanusGiganteus, Megasoma Acteons, Acronimus Longimanus, 3 species of Morphos, Anartia, Choeradodis…plus manu more. At least enjoyed pics of yours…bookmarked page too. Thanks Yan

  2. hello!

    This is a question more than a comment, so do reply to my email if you can!
    I am travelling to Madagascar in seven weeks, and I wanted to do some moth trapping. However, due to the threat of perhaps not having electricity during the night and the impracticality of taking a generator with me, has anyone got any suggestions as to how I should trap my moths? I was thinking along the lines of a high power torch and a white sheet. Any suggestions for the type of torch?

    Any replies would be much appreciated,
    Matthew – amateur entomologist

  3. @Yan Burian

    Dear Chris:

    I read about your trip to French Guiana and am considering a trip there myself in November or December (before or after Thanksgiving November 22). I am an amateur entomologist just looking for up to a week “escape” from work. Any recommendation would greatly be appreciated, especially any guides or housing recommendations.

    One more question, woudl the butterflies in Venezuela be representative of what I might find in French Guiana, or would they be different ?


    Michael Leonidov

  4. @Matthew

    My “dream” is to go to Madagascar. I would really love to hear about your experience. Do you have a website ?


  5. @Michael Leonidov
    It has been such a long time since I went to FG that I’m afraid that any places we stayed at would probably not exist now. One thing you might try is to speak with members of SEAG (Société Entomologique Antilles Guyane) on their webpage here: http://insectafgseag.myspecies.info/ I am sure that they can give you some good, modern tips on how best to travel to FG and collect 🙂

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