The Iguazu National Park lies in the extreme northeast of the Province of Misiones and covers a surface of 65,000 ha. The predominant vegetation is rainforest, known by the name of Atlantic Forest or locally called “Paranaense”, or Paraná Forest, due to its closeness to the Paraná river.
The generally hot climate, the intense rains, and the permanent humidity of the environment make of the jungle an immense greenhouse where everything germinates and grows.
There are legions of insects feeding off it, as well as being the food source for many other creatures in a fascinating food chain which involves and nurtures all.
This turns the subtropical jungle of Iguazu into the richest of life forms in Argentina, with 436 species of birds, 74 of mammals, 2000 species of vascular plants of which 200 are arboreal, and a still unknown number of insects.
We ought to mention at least a few mammals which, with some luck, the attentive observer may find during his outings. Among them might be capuchin monkeys, armadillos, rodents such as the agouti, the cavy, the squirrel and a few deer grazing at the roadside, and of course the likeable coati-mondi of the raccoon family with its inevitable presence at the falls.
Much rarer, but making us aware of their presence by their paw prints, are the large cats: the jaguar, the puma, and the ocelot. We ought to include here too the capybaras, tapirs, foxes, peccaries, anteaters, otters and various opossum species.
Bats thrive in the jungle. Some hunt insects, others feed on fruit, but there are also large carnivorous bats that eat small invertebrates like toads, lizards and even other bats.
The butterflies deserve a paragraph of their own. Over 980 species can be found in the Province of Misiones, the Iguazú National Park being considered an excellent place to find them, not only for harbouring so many varieties, but also for their ease of observation, as they are often found in great concentrations imbibing minerals at water puddles.
Among the most beautiful of these butterflies although difficult to choose among so much beauty are the Giant Morphos, who merit a special mention, and among these, the rare Blue Silk.
There are others, of course: there’s the Spotted Velvet, the Malachite, Ruby-spotted, Big Thoas, Ciprina, Sapphire, and of course the small Eighty, whereby the Blue Eighty-eight is very common in the park; and then there’s the cracker butterfly, of the genus Hamadryas, the only one to produce a curious noise that sounds very much like the discharge of electric sparks.