Mexico (Peninsular Yucatan)

by Oskar V. Conle & Marina Friede (9. 2002)
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Chichen ItzaIn September 2002 we spontaneously decided to fly to Mexico (Peninsular Yucatan) for a short vacation. This trip was actually more for relaxing than for collection insects.

We stayed in the five-star-resort “Bahia Principe Tulum” at the Riviera Maya. This region of Yucatan is well known for it´s beautiful white beaches and blue water along the coast.

Yucatan is a very plane peninsula, mainly covered with tropical rainforest. The most spectacular and characteristic highlights for the region are the beautiful Mayan temples and the large underground caves (Cenotes), which are spread over the whole peninsular.

Beach at TulumYucatan is a typical all-inclusive-tourism-country, which means that more individualized travelling is quite complicated. Most of the tourists visiting Yucatan spend all of their vacation in one of the large hotel resorts, without getting in touch with the beautiful nature of the country.

Beach at TulumDespite the warnings of our hotel security we decided to rent a car for exploring the peninsular. We should mention that Mexicans obtain their driving license without any examination. They only have to pay about 30 Dollars and have to be at least 14 years old. That explains the way they are driving. One of the rules you have to know when driving in Yucatan is that you have to give way and drive on the side-lane when a truck starts to overtake from behind. The worst drivers are the ones of large busses. The roads are full of knee-deep wholes which easily lead to a flat tire.

For us the following Mayan temples were the most beautiful: Tulum, a very pictorial temple situated at a very beautiful beach; Coba, a temple in the middle of the rainforest (about 45km in distance to the coast); and Chichen-Iza the largest temple in Yucatan. Everyone going to Yucatan should visit these extremely interesting old Mayan buildings.

Concerning the collecting of insects (especially at night), we were warned not to do that because of the high criminality of the country.
One of the temples of CobaBut real entomologists can not be stopped so easily from collecting insects (this is an innate collecting instinct!). So we went collection four times (nights) despite the warnings.

Equipped with our standard collecting tools we started looking for insects near by our Hotel (close to the sea) and an other time near by the Coba temple (45km inside the country). Two collecting nights did not bring any results, because it was too dry and had not rained for a long time. During a very humid night we found a large female of Pseudosermyle phalangiphora at Coba and a further mating pair of this species at Aktun-Chen near by our Hotel at the Riviera Maya. Insects of other orders were very common.

Pseudosermyle sp. femaleDuring our day-trips we saw many colourful grasshoppers (mainly Romalea species) and thousands of bird-eating-spiders (Brachypelma vagans) along the roads.
We do not know any other place on earth were we saw a higher quantity of butterflies flying around (mainly Pieridae and Nympahlidae). In some locations we were surrounded by hundreds of butterflies.

Brachypelma vagans male
Everybody who wants to do some entomological research in Yucatan, or collect some insects there, should protect him selves of Malaria and the high criminality.
There are also some further health-risks in Yucatan: for example, nearly 80% of all tourists visiting Mexico get infected by a very painful diarrhoea. This diarrhoea is dangerous and results of contaminated food or beverages.
We recommend all visitors of Yucatan to choose only the best hotels and only drink well-cocked water.

Yucatan is worth a visit because of its beautiful Mayan temples, its impressing tropical rainforests and least but not last its beautiful white beaches.

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