For those in the know, to talk about butterflies is to talk about Peru. One of every five species of butterflies in the world is found here. However, more than just another world record of bio-diversity, this constitutes one more reason to encourage nature lovers to take a journey through the Peruvian forests.
Today, butterflies make up the best-known group of land invertebrates and much of this knowledge is attributable to scientists working in the remote jungles of Peru. In recent years, theories stating that the natural diversity of the Amazon region increases in relation to its proximity to the Andes have been proven true by overwhelming statistics.
For example, the extraordinary number of species (1 300) were recorded in the community of Pakitza, in the Manu National Park, in southeast Peru and only 235 km away, in a small hostel on the Tambopata river, 1 260 species were recorded. What is amazing about these findings is that only 60% of the entries of both places overlapped! Researchers estimate that the total diversity of butterflies in the country must be over 4 200 species, of which 3 700 have been registered. The scale of this figure can be appreciated when making comparisons of total number of species with other parts of the world: Australia (396), Europe (441) and North America (679).
The narrow band of coastal desert with its agricultural valleys, as well as the Andean highlands at more than 5 000 masl have relatively few but very interesting species that have adapted to their rigorous environment.
Tropical forests are the environments that by far are home to the greatest variety of butterflies. In the high-jungle, as well as in the Amazon lowlands, there are areas where diversity is such that that a nature lover could be kept busy for weeks on end. These places range from the northeastern jungles (Tarapoto and Moyobamba), to the southern jungles (Tambopata and Manu), passing through the Chanchamayo Valley and the area surrounding Tingo María, famous for its importance as part of the great butterfly collections made by botanists at the turn of the century.