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Lake Chapala Trip 2006

Jalisco 2006

It was a one week trip to region of Lake Chapala. Hiked up mountain trails in mornings. I didn't do much collecting, but took lots of pictures.  Would love to have been able to bring back a nice live or dried collection, but laws prohibit the transport of natural materials across lines, without permits.  In particular I found one rutelinae species that was very exciting.  Though I didn't bring it back here, I am able to keep material at my parents' house in Mexico.  They have a beautiful yard as they are retired and spend their days working on their home and the yard.

When you're in a different country, everything is new.  Warm temperatures here allow different plants to grow and flourish, year-round.  I got there at the beginning of the rainy season. It had rained just enough for the hills to become green.  Insects are much more numerous during the rainy season as plants become green, bear flowers and fruit.

Many ant species share territory, with each other and us.  Fire ants, small sugar ants and leaf-cutter ants are the most familiar species.  I also saw a jumping spider that mimicked an ant species, though I didn't get a photograph of it.  It is amazing to watch the hordes of ants spilling in and out of the opening to the colonies, as they go in search of and bring back food.  The fire ants are difficult to live with.  My mother gets stung regularly, as she spends hours a day working in her vegetable and flower gardens.  She's a little more used to the occurrence, though her physical symptoms are consistently bad.  She describes the sting as being like needles poking her, but with the added annoyance of a strong itching sensation. Symptoms persist for a day or two and she takes antihistamines to offset her allergic reaction.  These make her very drowsy, and so she loses a few days of productivity, each time she's stung.

Leaf-cutter ants are definitely a force on the ground.  They cut up bits of plant material to take back to their subterranean colonies.  They are very common around the lake and it's difficult to tell where one colony begins and ends. Watching them is very much like watching traffic from a city skyscraper.