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Monday, November 26, 2007

Gulf Fritillary

The Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, a striking, bright orange butterfly of the family Nymphalidae, subfamily Heliconiinae. These were formerly classified in a separate family, the Heliconiidae or longwing butterflies, and like other longwings this species does have long, rather narrow wings in comparison with other butterflies. It is not closely related to the true fritillaries. It is a medium to large butterfly, with a wingspan of from 6 to 9.5 cm. Its underwings are buff, with large silvery spots. It takes its name from the fact that migrating flights of the butterflies are sometimes seen over the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf Fritillary is commonly seen in parks and gardens, as well as in open country. Its range extends from Argentina through Central America Mexico, and the West Indies to the southern United States, as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area on the west coast. It is occasionally found further north in the US.

Ulysses Butterfly, Kuranda State Forest, Queensland, Australia

The Ulysses butterfly (Papilio ulysses), also known as the blue mountain butterfly, is a large Australian swallowtail. The Ulysses butterfly has a wingspan of about 14 cm (5.5 inches). It lives in northeastern Australia along the coast of Queensland. It inhabits tropical rainforest areas and suburban gardens. The Ulysses butterfly's favourite food plant is euodia (Melicope elleryana), a tree with clusters of small pink flowers growing straight out of the branches. The upperside the wings are an iridescent electric blue; the underside is a more subdued black and brown in colouration. The colours are produced by the microscopic structure of the scales.[1]
Ulysses butterfly at the Melbourne Zoo
Ulysses butterfly at the Melbourne Zoo

The female of the species differs from the male in that she has little crescents of blue in the black sections of her hind wings. When the butterfly is perched the intense blue of its wings is hidden, helping it to blend in with its surroundings. When in flight the butterfly can be seen hundreds of metres away as sudden bright blue flashes. This butterfly is used as an emblem for Queensland tourism.

Males are strongly attracted to blue objects which they mistake for females. Females favour small trees up to 2 metres tall to lay their eggs.

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

The Eastern tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus, is a large (12 cm wingspan) swallowtail butterfly. It is found in the Eastern United States, as far north as southern Vermont, and as far West as extreme Eastern Colorado. It flies from spring through fall, and most of the year in the southern portions of its range, where it may produce two or three broods a year. In the Appalachian region, it is replaced by the closely-related and only recently described Papilio appalachiensis, and in the north, it is replaced by the closely-related Papilio canadensis. These three species can be very difficult to distinguish, and were formerly all considered to be a single species.

Adult males are yellow, with four black "tiger stripes" on each fore wing. The trailing edges of the fore and hind wings are black which is broken with yellow spots. On the medial margin of the hind wing next to the abdomen there are small red and blue spots.

There are two morphs of adult females, a yellow and a dark one. The yellow morph is similar to the male, except that the hind wings have an area of blue between the black margin and the main yellow area. In the dark morph, most of the yellows area are replaced with a dark gray. A shadow of the "tiger stripes" can still be seen on the dark females. The dark form is more common in the Southern portions of the range, especially in areas also inhabited by the pipevine swallowtail, which it seems to mimic.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails often rest with their wings fully spread, particularly if the sun is out.

Female lays spherical green eggs on the top of leaves of host plants. After hatching, the caterpillars often eat the shell of their egg. The first instars are dark and mimic bird droppings. The larvae eat the leaves of a wide variety of trees and shrubs, including cottonwood, tulip tree, sweet bay, and cherry. Adults are strictly diurnal; they start to fly towards noon and by and by return to rest throughout the afternoon (Fullard & Napoleone 2001).

It is the state butterfly of Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina and Delaware.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Lesser Purple Emperor Butterfly

The Lesser Purple Emperor, or Apatura ilia, is a species of butterfly native to most of Europe and Asia. It is named for its similarity to the Purple Emperor butterfly.

Morpho Brilliant

Blue Morpho

The Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho Peleides) drinks the juices from rotting fruits for food. Blue Morpho butterflies live in the rainforests of South America, and can be found in Mexico and Central America.The wingspan of the Blue Morpho butterfly ranges from 7.5 cm to 20 cm.The entire Blue Morpho Butterfly lifecycle, from egg to adult is only 115 days. The larvae of Blue Morpho Butterflies are cannibals. The caterpillar blue morpho butterfly is red-brown with patches of bright green. The brilliant blue color in the butterfly's wings is caused by the diffraction of the light from millions of tiny scales on its wings. It uses this to frighten away predators, by flashing its wings rapidly. The Blue Morpho Butterflies stick together in groups to deter their predators. A form of Mobbing behavior.

There are over 80 different species of the Morpho butterfly.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Emerald Swallowtail

The Emerald Swallowtail (Papilio palinurus) is a butterfly found primarily in South East Asia. It is also referred to as Emerald Peacock or Green-banded Peacock Swallowtail

Pipevine Swallowtail

The Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly (Battus philenor) is a swallowtail butterfly which is found in North and Central America.

The butterfly ranges from southern Canada southwards across USA to Mexico, Tres Marias islands and onto Guatemala and Costa Rica.

In the United States, the butterfly is found in New England down to Florida, from Southern Ontario (Canada) to Nebraska, Texas, Arizona, California, Oregon and New Mexico.

The upper surface of the hind wings of the male butterfly has an iridescent metallic blue sheen. The hindwings also have a series of pale, arrow-head markings above and a single row of seven round orange spots, which never touch, set in an iridescent blue field below.

The forewings are dull blackish-brown.

After mating, females lay batches of eggs on the underside of the leaves of a host plant. The caterpillars feed in small groups when young, but become solitary when older. Chrysalis overwinters.

Java Butterfly (Elymnias Hypermnestra)

The Common Palmfly, Elymnias hypermnestra, is a species of satyrid butterfly found in south Asia.

As some other species in the genus Elymnias, the Common Palmfly presents a precostal cell on the hindwings and a hair tuft of androconial scales on dorsal discal cell of hindwings. This butterfly species is dimorphic, males and females do not look alike. Males exhibit black colored upperside forewings with small blue patches and reddish brown color on upperside hindwings, while the females mimic butterfly species of the genus Danaus.

Race caudata (Western Ghats) Males and female resembles E. undularis, Drury, but both sexes have the wings longer, proportionately to their breadth, and the tail at apex of vein 4 on the hind wing longer. Upperside: male differs from E. undularis as follows :— the subterminal and preapical spots on the fore wing white suffused slightly with dark scales; the terminal half of the hind wing tawny, more or less suffused with dusky black, which in some specimens forms a distinct border along the termen. Female similar to the female of E. undularis, but the black more extended ; veins 2, 3, and 4 on the hind wing broadly bordered with black. Underside: Female differs from E. undularis in the more conspicuous broadly triangular white pre-apical patch on the fore wing, and in the prominence of the broad tawny terminal half of the upperside of the hind wing, which shows through a pale, sometimes pinkish-brown on the underside. Antennae, head, thorax and abdomen brown, paler beneath and much paler in the female than in the male.

Race undularis (Subhimalayas and Southeast Asia) Male upperside blackish brown. fore wing with a subterminal series of blue or sometimes slightly green elongate spots, curving strongly inwards and getting more elongate opposite apex, forming almost an oblique bar up to the costa. Hind wing: the terminal margin broadly bright chestnut, sometimes with a subterminal paler spot in two or more of the interspaces. Underside pale brown, the basal two-thirds of both fore and hind wing densely, the outer third more sparsely covered with dark ferruginous, somewhat broad, transverse striae. Fore wing with a broadly triangular pale purplish-white preapical mark; both fore and hind wings with a broad subterminal area purplish white. Hind wing with a small white spot opposite middle of the costa and a more or less complete series of more obscure whitish subterminal spots. Antennae, head, thorax and abdomen brown; abdomen beneath paler.

Female Upperside tawny, veins black. Fore wing : the dorsal margin broadly black; the apical area beyond a line curving from the tornus, round apex of the cell and a little beyond it, to the base of the costa also black, the wing crossed preapically by a conspicuous, broad, oblique white bar, and three subterminal white spots. Hind wing: dorsal margin dusky; terminal broadly, costal margin more narrowly black ; a subterminal series of four white spots. Underside tawny, with markings similar to those in the male; the pale whitish markings more extensive ; the dorsal margin broadly without striae.

Race fraterna, Butler (Sri Lanka) is an insular representative of E. undularis. The male differs on the upperside in the more or less complete absence of the subterminal and preapical blue markings on the fore wing; and in the broad terminal border of the hind wing being of a much brighter, almost ochraceous chestnut. On the underside the pale markings are somewhat restricted. The male very closely resembles, both on the upper and under side, the male of E. undularis.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Common Blue Butterfly

Blue Morpho Butterfly, Costa Rica

A Blue Morpho butterfly rests on a leaf at a Butterfly Garden in Guacima de Alajuela, 40 km (25 miles) northwest of San Jose May 12, 2005. More than 30,000 cocoons of butterflies of 30 different species are exported every month from Costa Rica by U.S. citizen Joris Brinkerhoff who specializes in the breeding and exporting butterflies to Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada and the U.S.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Peleides Blue Morpho (Morpho Peleides)

The Peleides Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides) is an iridescent tropical butterfly found in Mexico, Central America, northern South America,Paraguay and Trinidad. The Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho Peleides) drinks the juices from rotting fruits for food.

Blue Morpho butterflies live in the rainforests of South America, and can be found in Mexico and Central America. The wingspan of the Blue Morpho butterfly ranges from 7.5 cm to 20 cm. The entire Blue Morpho Butterfly lifecycle, from egg to adult is only 115 days. The larvae of Blue Morpho Butterflies are cannibals. The caterpillar blue morpho butterfly is red-brown with patches of bright green.

The brilliant blue colour in the butterfly's wings is caused by the diffraction of the light from millions of tiny scales on its wings. It uses this to frighten away predators, by flashing its wings rapidly. The Blue Morpho Butterflies stick together in groups to deter their predators. A form of Mobbing behavior. There are over 80 different species of the Morpho butterfly.

Lesser Grass Blue Butterfly

The Lesser Grass Blue, Zizina otis, is a species of blue butterfly found in south Asia.

Male upperside: pale violet-blue, with a silvery sheen in certain lights, jfore wing: a broad brown edging along the termen, which covere in some specimens quite the outer fourth of the mug, while in others is much narrower. In all specimens it is broadest at apex and is bounded by an anticiliary darker line, beyond which the cilia are brownish at base and white outwardly. Hind wing: anterior or costal third to half and apex brown; a slender black anticiliary line, bevond which the cilia are as in the fore wing. Underside: brownish grey. Fore wing: a short, transverse, dusky lunule on the discocellulars and a transverse, anteriorly curved, discal series of seven minute black spots, all the spots more or less rounded, the posterior two geminate, the discocellular lunule and each discal spot conspicuously encircled with white; the terminal markings beyond the above consist of an inner and an outer transverse subterminal series of dusky spots, each spot edged on the inner side very obscurely with dusky white, the inner line of spots lunular, the outer with the spots more or less rounded. Cilia dusky. Hind wing : a transverse, curved, subbasal series of four spots and an irregular transverse discal series of nine small spots black, each spot encircled narrowly witli white. Of the discal spots the posterior four are placed in an outwardly oblique, slightly curved line, the middle two spots geminate; the three spots above these are placed in an oblique transverse line further outwards ; lastly, the anterior two spots are posited one over the other and shifted well inwards, just above the apex of the cell; discocellular lunule and terminal markings as on the fore wing, but the inner subterminal lunular line in the latter broader and more prominent. Cilia dusky. Antenna black, shafts ringed with white; head, thorax and abdomen brown, with a little blue scaling; beneath: white.

Female. Upperside: brown, with a more or less distinct suffusion of violet-blue at the bases of the wings, on the hind wing continued obscurely along the dorsum; both foreand hind wings with slender anticiliary lines, darker than the ground-colour. Underside: ground-colour slightly darker than in the male, markings precisely similar. Antennae, head, thorax and abdomen as in the male, but the thorax and abdomen above without any blue scaling.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Rare Blue Butterfly

Adonis Blue

The Adonis Blue is mostly found in southern England. One of Britain's rarest butterflies has returned to a spot where it has not been seen for more than 40 years. The Adonis Blue, classified as a priority species, is usually only found at a few places in southern England.

But it has returned in numbers to a former site in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, after a National Trust campaign to restore its habitat. The insect's numbers were decimated 50 years ago when a lot of its natural habitat, chalk grassland, was lost.

The Adonis Blue likes to live in habitats with short grass, and it is unusual for the butterflies to fly far from their home base. When the rabbit-killing disease Myxomatosis broke out in the 1950s, the lack of rabbits meant grass grew too long and the Adonis Blue's former habitats became unsuitable.

But now large numbers of the species have moved back to its former home around Rodborough and Minchinhampton Common, as trust officers have brought in cattle to keep the grass down. Matthew Oakes, butterfly expert and adviser for the National Trust said: "Never underestimate a butterfly.

"We think that the Adonis Blue may be benefiting from milder winters and hotter summers and that it should produce a bumper brood this August and September. "It is one of our loveliest butterflies and we are delighted to have it back in the Cotswolds."

Hybrid Blue Butterfly Species - Alpine Lycaeides

Bacteria Make Female Butterflies Promiscuous, Scientists Say

A germ that kills males triggers a vicious cycle of increasing female promiscuity and male sexual exhaustion in a species of butterfly, scientists report.

Male-killing bacteria known as Wolbachia are extremely widespread in insects, found in more than one-fifth of species. The germs can turn males to females and cause infected females to reproduce without males.
Scientists had assumed these bacteria would profoundly alter the natural mating patterns of their hosts, but only had scant evidence of what these changes would entail in the wild.

Evolutionary biologist Sylvain Charlat at University College London and his colleagues investigated the common eggfly Hypolimnas bolina. This butterfly is found in locations ranging from Madagascar to Asia, and from Australia and to Easter Island.

The bacteria infects Pacific Island and Southeast Asian populations of the butterfly [image], getting transmitted from mother to son and killing males before eggs hatch. Each island's butterflies are affected by Wolbachia differently, leading to different ratios of males to females. The male population can range as low as one male to every 100 females in some areas.

Over the course of three years, the scientists inspected the butterflies’ sex ratio in 20 different locales, including Vietnam, Australia and 18 different islands, including Borneo, New Guinea, Vanuatu and Tahiti. They also investigated female mating frequency and the size of the male sperm package.

Some research sites were easily reachable by airplane, but the scientists relied on private sailboats to get to the more remote spots. While butterflies were common at some locations, they were rare at others, requiring days and days of hiking to find spots for collection. "People were generally very curious about what I was doing, and amused when they knew it was all about sex in butterflies,” Charlat said

The researchers expected that the fewer male butterflies there were, the less sex females likely would have with males. Surprisingly, female promiscuity actually rose.

"Greater numbers of female partners leads to fatigue in males. They start producing smaller sperm packages," Charlat said. "Unfortunately, the female butterflies instinctively know that the packages are smaller and that their chances of having been sufficiently impregnated after mating are lower than usual. This just makes them more rampant."

The actual mechanism behind how the females detect sperm package size remains a mystery so far.

The fact that the Wolbachia bacteria are widespread in insects could mean, Charlat speculated, that this phenomenon might also be widespread in insects in nature.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

European Peacock

The European Peacock (Inachis io), more commonly known simply as the Peacock, is a well-known colourful butterfly, found in temperate Europe and Asia. It is the only member of the genus Inachis which is sometimes included in Nymphalis. It should not be confused or classified with the "American peacocks" in the genus Anartia; these are not close relatives of the present species. The peacock butterfly is resident in much of its range, often wintering in buildings or trees. It therefore often appears quite early in spring.

The butterfly measures about 5 cm (2 in) from wingtip to wingtip and is easily identified by its striking eye pattern on a ruddy background, although with wings closed the cryptically coloured dark underwings make it look like a dead leaf. The eyespots are reminiscent of those on the feathers of a peacock, hence the name. The eyespots are exposed when the butterfly is disturbed by a potential predator (such as a bird) in a startling anti-predator display. The butterflies flick their wings open and make a hissing noise. The open wings create an impression of the face of a mammal such as a cat, and this deters the predator for long enough for the butterfly to escape.(Stevens 2005)

The butterfly hibernates over winter before laying its eggs in early spring, in batches of up to 500 at a time. The caterpillars, which are shiny black with six rows of barbed spikes and a series of white dots on each segment, hatch after about a week and feed on nettles and hops. The adult butterflies drink nectar from a wide variety of flowering plants, including buddleia, sallows, dandelions, wild marjoram, danewort, hemp agrimony, and clover; they also utilize tree sap and rotten fruit.

The Peacock can be found in woods, fields, meadows, pastures, parks, and gardens, and from lowlands up to 8,200 feet elevation. It is a relatively common butterfly seen in many European parks and gardens.

White Peacock Butterfly

White Peacock Butterfly (Anartia jatrophae) are very common in Central America and the Caribbean, as well as southern Texas and Florida. Small numbers can also be found in North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas.

White peacock butterflies are commonly found in warm, open, weedy areas such as fields or parks where water is abundant -usually in the form of a pond or stream. Adult butterflies are often seen along roadside ditches where host plants are abundant.

Males display a unique territorial behavior. Males stake out a territory, typically 15 meters in diameter, that contains larval host plants. Males perch in this area and aggressively protect it from other insects and other male white peacocks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Papillons Hamel

Painted Lady (Vanessa Cardui)

Butterfly Gardens

A successful butterfly garden has plants that meet butterfly's needs during all four life stages, the egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and adult.

You can attract butterflies to your garden by providing them with food (plants and flowers), water, shelter, and places to lay their eggs (host plants). Butterflies drink nectar, so growing nectar-rich flowers will attract butterflies to your garden. Also, when their eggs hatch, the caterpillars eat the foliage of the plant they were laid on, so growing the right type of plants to feed caterpillars is important, since it will allow female butterflies to lay their eggs in your garden.

Owl Butterfly _ Cailigo memnon

Green Banded Peacock Butterfly _ Papilio Palinurus

The Common Banded Peacock (Papilio crino) is a species of swallowtail (Papilionidae) butterfly found in parts of South Asia, including India and Sri Lanka.

The Papilio crino esembles Papilio palinurus, but the male generally has, on the upperside of the outer half of the forewing, cottony or hairy scent-streaks similar to those in Papilio polyctor, only the streak in interspace 1 is always wanting. The other differences are seen in the upperwing.

* Upper forewing:
The discal transverse bluish-green band slightly sinuous, narrower, more curved and more distinctly decreasing in width towards the costal margin; in the female it is more sinuous than in the male.

* Upper hindwing:
The transverse bluish-green band is very variable in width but with its inner margin is much straighter than in P. polyctor; this band that in P. polyctor stops short of vein 7, is in the present form continued to the costal margin, it is however much and abruptly narrowed above vein 7; tornal ocellus claret-red with a large black centre inwardly edged with blue; the bright ochraceous subapical lunule of P. polyctor replaced by a dull whitish spot; the subterminal diffuse green lunules restricted to interspaces 2,3 and 4; the spatular apex of the tail with a small patch of bluish-green scales.

* Underside:
Dull pale brown to blackish brown irrorated with scattered yellowish scales, which, however, on the forewing are absent from a large triangular discal patch that lies between the dorsum, the median vein, vein 5 and a line of white lunules that crosses the wing in an outward curve from the upper third of the costa to just before the tornus; these white lunules are outwardly diffuse and merge gradually into the brown ground-colour. In the Hindwing, the tornal ocellus much as on the upperside; an obscure ill-defined highly arched postdiscal narrow whitish band from above the tornal ocellus to the costa, ends near apex of interspace 7 in a broad white lunule; beyond this a double subterminal row of somewhat straight ochreous-white lunules in the interspaces, each lunule of the inner row bordered outwardly with blue, this bordering very faint in many specimens. Cilia of both fore and hindwings brown alternated with white. Antennae, head, thorax and abdomen dark brownish black; the head, thorax and abdomen above with a sprinkling of glittering green scales.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Malachite Butterfly - Siproeta Stelenes

Siproeta stelenes is the scientific name for the malachite, a brush-footed butterfly. The malachite has large wings which are black and brilliant green or yellow-green on the uppersides and light brown and olive green on the undersides. It is named for the mineral malachite, which is similar in color to the bright green on the butterfly's wings. The wingspread is typically between 8.5 and 10 cm. The malachite is found throughout Central America, where it is one of the most common butterfly species. Its distribution extends as far north as southern Texas and the tip of Florida, to Cuba and south to Brazil.

Adults feed on flower nectar, rotting fruit, dead animals, and bat dung. Females lay eggs on the new leaves of plants in the Acanthaceae family, especially ruellia. The larvae are horned, spiny black caterpillars with red markings.

How Sweet

How they multiply.

There are four stages to a butterfly's life cycle. The first is the egg laid by the female. After 5 to 10 days, a tiny caterpillar hatches from the egg. The caterpillar begins an eating binge that continues through its stage in a butterfly's life. The well-fed caterpillar then becomes a pupa or chrysalis. During this dormant but transitional stage, no food is taken in. At the end of this stage, the adult butterfly emerges from the chrysalis.


How they hunt.

Butterflies smell with their antennae to find nectar. To sip nectar, they have a long hollow tube called a proboscis. This lets them probe deep into flowers to reach the nectar. When the proboscis is not being used, it stays coiled up underneath the butterfly's head. When flying from flower to flower, butterflies use their wings in the same way birds do. And while butterflies are not as fast as birds, some tropical species can maintain a flying speed of 24 miles per hour.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So Sweet

Where they live.

Butterflies can be found in all but the hottest and coldest parts of the world. More butterflies live in the tropics than anywhere else. That's because in the tropics, there are always plenty of plants for the caterpillars to eat and many blossoms to produce nectar for butterflies. Tropical butterflies also live the longest—some for up to one year. Butterflies that live in more temperate climates have an average lifespan of just a few weeks or a few months. Some live a mere few hours.

What A Delicate Butterfly!

Black N White

Monday, October 1, 2007

So Cute

Butterflies are beautiful, flying insects with large scaly wings. Like all insects, they have six jointed legs, 3 body parts, a pair of antennae, compound eyes, and an exoskeleton. The three body parts are the head, thorax (the chest), and abdomen (the tail end).

The butterfly's body is covered by tiny sensory hairs. The four wings and the six legs of the butterfly are attached to the thorax. The thorax contains the muscles that make the legs and wings

Zebra Longwing Heliconius

The Zebra Longwing Heliconius charithonia, (also known as the Zebra Heliconian) is a species of butterfly belonging to the subfamily Heliconiinae of the Nymphalidae. It was declared the official butterfly of Florida (U.S.A.) in 1996.

The butterfly ranges over parts of North, Central and South America as well as the West Indies.

In North America the butterfly is found in the southern parts of the United States including Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina.

In South and Central America, it has been recorded in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

The caterpillar feeds on Passiflora lutea, (yellow passionflower), Passiflora suberosa (corky stemmed passionvine), and Passiflora biflora (two-flower). The adults are unusual among butterflies in that they eat pollen as well as sipping nectar. This ability contributes to their longevity -- 3 months as an adult. Another unusual feature is that adults roost in groups of up to 70, and return to the same roost each evening.

Footnote In some publications the butterfly is referred to as Heliconius charitonius but this appears to be a mis-spelling of the original name given by Linnaeus - charithonia, hence not listed as a synonym.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

White Butterfly

Owl Butterfly

Owl butterflies, of which there are around 20 different species, are members of the genus Caligo, in the brush-footed butterfly family Nymphalidae. They are found in the rainforests and secondary forests of Central and South America.

The name is derived from the presence of large "eyespots" (ocelli) on the underside of the hindwings. To a human observer of dead butterflies pinned up in a collection, owl butterflies' underwings resemble the head of an owl when the butterfly is held head down. It was speculated that the ocelli are "false eyes" to scare smaller birds that attempt to prey on the butterfly.

There is no evidence that the function of the ocelli is to resemble an owl. The position in which the owl-like appearance occurs is not generally assumed by the butterfly in life. In its resting position, Calico settle down with closed wings like most butterflies, showing only one of the eyespots, and do not look owl-like.

The actual significance of the ocelli remains elusive (Stevens 2005). In some butterflies, particularly Satyrinae (such as the Gatekeeper Butterfly and the Grayling), it has been shown that ocelli serve as a decoy, diverting bird attack away from the vulnerable body, and towards the outer part of the hindwings or the forewing tip. Owl butterflies have been observed with large chunks missing from their hindwings[citation needed]. On the other hand, decoy ocelli are almost always small and located near the margin of the wing, where the damage caused by a bird's beak would interfere little with the butterfly flying and going about its life. The position and size of the owl butterflies' ocelli makes them a decidedly suboptimal decoy, as they are far too close to the abdomen in resting position to ensure no substantial damage is inflicted by a bird snapping at them.

The underwing pattern is highly cryptic. They rest on tree trunks and large branches, and at least to human observers, when seen from a distance the eyespot and the surrounding dark area do not compromise their superb camouflage. As many birds are able to see in the ultraviolet, more research is needed to determine how the eyespot pattern is perceived by the actual predators. In any case, at fairly close range the most visible thing about a resting owl butterfly is certainly a dark patch containing a single "false eye".

Owl butterflies are very large, and fly only a few metres at a time, so avian predators have little difficulty in following them to their settling place. However, the butterflies preferentially fly around dusk, when few avian predators are around. Indeed, their main predators are apparently small lizards such as Anolis. It was suggested that the hindwing underside pattern actually resembles the head of a large a large Hyla tree frog, which prey on Anolis. This theory remains to be tested. It is known that many small animals hesitate to go near patterns resembling eyes with a light-colored iris and a large pupil, which matches the appearance of the eyes of many predators that hunt by sight. Thus, it is conceivable that the pattern is a generalized form of automimicry that would buy the butterfly time to escape from an approaching predator.

Butterfly at the Butterfly Pavillion near Victoria BC

What they eat.

Butterflies love the sweet nectar in flowers. And as incredible as it sounds, a butterfly tastes with its feet! As soon as it lands on a flower, it uses its feet, called tarsi, to tell whether this is the flower it wants. If you tasted your food the way a butterfly does, you would have to put your toes in your dessert to sample it!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cruiser (Vindula Erota)

The Cruiser (Vindula erota) is a species of nymphalid butterfly found in forested areas of tropical South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Wet-season form

Male Upperside bright orange-yellow. Fore wing olivaceous brown at base with the following black markings: three short sinuous transverse lines across the cell; the disco-cellulars with an inner and outer slender line; a lunular inner discal broken transverse line, a zigzag outer discal broken transverse line, a transverse inwardly curved series of postdiscal spots, those in interspaces 5 and 6 the largest, and an inner and an outer subterminal conspicuous zigzag narrow band. Hind wing with inner and outer discal black lines and inner and outer subterminal narrow black bands as on the fore wing, but the outer discal transverse line faint and ill-defined posteriorly; the space anteriorly between the two discal lines much paler yellow than the general ground-colour; in addition there is a dark straight postdiscal diffuse fascia with a superposed ocellus in interspaces 2 and 5 respectively, and a lilac spot at the tornal angle. Underside similar, the basal area enclosed by the inner discal line suffused with cinnabar-red, as is also the outer zigzag transverse ill-defined discal line. Forewing with, in addition, two cream-white preapical spots and a purplish suffusion between the two subterminal lines, the inner line straight, not zigzag; interspace 1a, and 1 posteriorly from base to inner subterminal line, paler than tho ground-colour. Hind wing with some additional transverse linear and loop-like slender black markings at base; a conspicuous, straight, transverse, narrow dark ferruginous postdiscal band, and a pale purplish suffusion beyond it between veins 2 and 5, not reaching the termen. Antennae dark ferruginous; head, thorax and abdomen olivaceous orange ; beneath, the palpi, thorax and abdomen ochraceous.

Female upperside dull brown, the basal area of both fore and hind wings, on the inner side of a vertical transverse line from just beyond apex of cell in fore wing to vein 2 on the hind wing, suffused with olivaceous green; the terminal margin, broadly, of the hind wing suffused with reddish ochraceous ; a broad, posteriorly narrowing, discal white band inclined obliquely inwards from below the costa of the fore wing to vein 2 on the hind wing, conspicuously interrupted and crossed by the dark veins on the fore wing. Fore wing with the following dusky brownish-black markings: three short transverse sinuous lines crossing the cell; a sinuous line on either side of the discocellulars ; a broad line, interrupted by the veins, defining the inner side of the white discal band; a zigzag medial transverse line and a transverse series of very diffuse spots traversing the same band, followed by a postdiscal narrow band and a zigzag subterminal line ; finally, a conspicuous white preapical spot in interspace 7. Hind wing: a dusky-brown zigzag line along the outer margin of the white discal band ; a diffuse broad postdiscal transverse shading, bearing a white-centred, dusky-brown, ochraceous-ringed ocellus, in interspaces 2 and 5 respectively, followed by an inner subterminal lunular band and an outer subterminal zigzag line of brownish black; the abdominal fold ochraceous. Underside very similar to that in the male, but differs as follows :— ground-colour ochraceous yellow, the basal area on both fore and hind wings darker ochraceous without any tinge of cinnabar-red ; all the markings similar as to form to those in the male, but chestnut-brown ; the ocelli on the hind wing larger, but otherwise similar. Antennae dark ochraceous, turning to brownish black on the apical half; palpi ochraceous ; head, thorax and abdomen olivaceous green; beneath, the palpi, thorax and abdomen pale ochraceous.

Dry-season form

Smaller than the wet-season form, the tail at apex of vein 4 in the hind wing very much shorter as a rule.

Male: Upper and undersides similar to those in the wet-season form, but the groundcolour very much paler; on the underside entirely suffused with pale cinnabar-red ; the markings smaller, often more or less obsolescent, always more faintly defined; above, the markings are dusky brownish black, beneath pale chestnut-red; the pale purplish suffusion on the terminal margins of both fore and hind wings on the underside, so conspicuous in the wet-season form, entirely wanting.

Female: Differs very remarkably from the wet-season form. Upperside: fore and hind wings with a very broad pale ochraceous-white discal band from costa of fore wing to the dorsal margin just above the tornus on the hind wing, narrowing posteriorly on the latter wing. Fore wing: basal area olivaceous green on the inner side of the discal band, as in the wet-season form, but the space between the outer two of the three dusky transverse lines crossing the cell ochraceous: the medial zigzag line and the series of diffuse spots traversing the discal band very ill-defined. Hind wing: basal area ochraceous, owing to the colour of the underside showing through by transparency; a very pale shading of olivaceous green at base of cell; terminal portion of the wing beyond the discal band bright ochraceous ; the postdiscal ocelli and the inner and outer subterminal dark lines as in the wet-season form.

Underside: ground-colour pale yellow ; the basal area on both fore and hind wings suffused with cinnabar-red; the markings similar to those in the wet-season form, but very much fainter and paler. Antennae ochraceous, palpi and a line behind the eyes cinnabar-red; head, thorax and abdomen olivaceous green, beneath bright ochraceous.

The Rounds of a Social Butterfly


Butterflies are very good fliers. They have two pairs of large wings covered with colorful, iridescent scales in overlapping rows. Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) are the only insects that have scaly wings. The wings are attached to the butterfly's thorax (mid-section). Veins support the delicate wings and nourish them with blood.

Butterflies can only fly if their body temperature is above 86 degrees. Butterflies sun themselves to warm up in cool weather. As butterflies age, the color of the wings fades and the wings become ragged.

The speed varies among butterfly species (the poisonous varieties are slower than non-poisonous varieties). The fastest butterflies (some skippers) can fly at about 30 mile per hour or faster. Slow flying butterflies fly about 5 mph.

Blue on Pink, Sarah Longwing

The Sara Longwing (Heliconius sara) is a species of neotropical heliconiid butterfly found from Mexico to the Amazon Basin. It is a colourful species: the dorsal wing surface is black with a large medial patch of metallic blue that is framed by two bands of white on the forewings. (This coloration is similar to that of Wallace's Longwing, H. wallacei, whose range overlaps Sara's, but does not extend as far north.) The ventral wing surface is a dull brown to black with muted bands and small red spots on the proximal margin; total wingspan is 55–60 mm.

Inhabiting rainforests, adults are commonly found among sparser secondary growth and along forest margins. They feed on the nectar of Hamelia, Lantana, Palicourea, and Psiguria plants. They reproduce continuously, with several generations produced every year. Sara Longwings are one of several heliconiids exhibiting the unusual practice of pupal mating, in which adult males are attracted to female pupae via the latter's pheromones. The males compete for prime perch space close to the females' chrysalids, and successful suitors forcibly mate with the females immediately following their emergence. Alternatively, males may also patrol a territory in which they search for females that have already emerged. The adult stage has a lifespan of 2–3 months.

Like other heliconiids, females seek the new growth of passion flower vines on which to lay their small yellow eggs, in clusters of 10–50. The vines contain toxic compounds which the caterpillars are immune to; as they feed upon the vines, the caterpillars concentrate the toxins within their tissues. After pupating (with the chrysalis also found on the host vine and camouflaged like a leaf), the adult retains the toxins and is thus protected from predation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Heliconius Erota

Heliconius erato is a butterfly commonly known under a variety of names, such as the "Red Postman", the "Small Postman", the "Red Passion Flower Butterfly", or the "Crimson-Patched Longwing". It is one of about 40 Neotropical species belonging to the genus Heliconius. The species is remarkably variable in color and form throughout northern South America, depending on location, and its various appearances can be difficult to distinguish from various other Heliconius butterflies such as Heliconius sara, also known as the Sara Longwing. Particularly hard to distinguish is the related Heliconius melpomene, or "The Postman", which mimics almost all the color forms of Heliconius erato; color forms are synchronized between the two throughout their common habitats. Heliconius erato is up to about 5.7 cm (2.25 inches) in wingspan with a jerky unelegance in flight.

Like Heliconius charitonius, H. erato is one of the few butterflies that collects and digests pollen, conferring considerable longevity to the adults (several months). Adults roost in groups, returning to the same location each night.

Tiger Swallowtail

Swallowtail butterflies are large, colorful butterflies which form the family Papilionidae. There are at least 550 species, and though the majority are tropical, members of the family are found on all continents except Antarctica. The family includes the largest butterflies in the world, the birdwing butterflies of Australia (genus Ornithoptera).

Swallowtails differ from all other butterflies in a number of anatomical traits. Most notably, their caterpillars possess a unique organ behind their heads, called the osmeterium. Normally hidden, this forked structure can be everted when the caterpillar is threatened, and emits smelly secretions containing terpenes. The adults are often tailed, giving the insect its name.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Red Lacewing Butterfly

The Lacewing Butterfly, or Admiral, has the most intricate wing art of all our butterfly decorations, just enough to suggest the incredible beauty of it's real counterparts. Made from sturdy, low maitenence acrylic, and painted with sparkling uv resistant paints, the large lacewing ornament has a wingspan of 21.5 inches, and the small is 13 inches across.

Mostly found in tropical climes, members of the genus Cethosia are known as lacewings because of the distinctive lacey edges of the wings. They also frequently have intricate markings on the underside of their wings, adding to the lace-like effect.

Marvelous Metamorphosis

The Monarch is a common poisonous butterfly that eats poisonous milkweed in its larval stage and lays its eggs on the milkweed plant. Monarchs have a wingspan of 3 3/8 - 4 7/8 inches (8.6 - 12.4 cm).

Butterflies are beautiful, flying insects with large scaly wings. Like all insects, they have six jointed legs, 3 body parts, a pair of antennae, compound eyes, and an exoskeleton. The three body parts are the head, thorax (the chest), and abdomen (the tail end). The four wings and the six legs of the butterfly are attached to the thorax. The thorax contains the muscles that make the legs and wings move.

The Gaudy Commodore, London Butterfly House, England

Butterflies are beautiful, flying insects with large scaly wings. Like all insects, they have six jointed legs, 3 body parts, a pair of antennae, compound eyes, and an exoskeleton. The three body parts are the head, thorax (the chest), and abdomen (the tail end).

The butterfly's body is covered by tiny sensory hairs. The four wings and the six legs of the butterfly are attached to the thorax. The thorax contains the muscles that make the legs and wings move.

Butterflies Collection