Finca Bellavista is a fabulous place for butterfly watching. The area around the basecamp is full of flowers, some native and some exotic cultivars, that always attract a wide range of species. But the most beautiful and impressive butterflies don't care for flower nectar. Rather, they look for fallen, preferably somewhat rotten fruit, which provide both a high concentration of sugars and other nutrients. Among species that prefer rotten fruit is the owl butterfly (Caligo), Costa Rica's largest butterfly. Two species of these magnificent insects are common along the trails at Finca and the best place to see them is the trail to La Punta (but they are also common on the Red Trail). Look for them in shady spots below the canopy or on trunks of trees with large buttress roots. They are quite cryptic and you are only likely to see it if you accidentally flush one from under the vegetation. As they fly you may get a glimpse of the colorful upper surface of the wings, which immediately disappears when the butterfly lands. The big "eyes" on the underside of their wings probably help avoid being attacked by birds, who confuse the pattern with that of a large predator.
Owl butterfly (Caligo atreus) near Casa Tamandua
The upper side of the owl butterfly's wing can only be seen briefly as it flies. Upon landing they immediately close the wings and disappear.