Wings of Fancy at Brookside Gardens

5 09 2008

This morning Michael and I went to photograph the “Wings of Fancy” live butterfly exhibit, in its 12th year at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland. The exhibit is at the South Conservatory and is open from 10:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m. daily through September 21. Admission is $5.00 for adults, $4 for children ages 3-12, and free for children age 2 and under.

The website mentions that the greenhouse is usually ten degrees warmer than the outside. They weren’t kidding about that! It got pretty uncomfortable after about 20 minutes, but we were so excited about the myriad photographic opportunities that we just plugged ahead—glasses steamed, brows sweating. One of the volunteers said there are several hundred butterflies in the conservatory, representing 60 different species from Asia, Costa Rica, and North America.

These are just a few of the butterflies in the conservatory:

Atlas Moth (with a wingspan of at least 6 inches!)
Zebra Mosaic
Giant Swallowtail
Julia Heliconian
Paper Kite
Banded Purple Wing
White Peacock
Cydno Longwing
Mexican Shoemaker
Tiger Longwing
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Question Mark
Agentinean Canna Skipper
American Giant Swallowtail
Painted Lady
Red Postman
Gray Cracker
Common Morpho
Common Mormon
Gulf Fritillary

The collage below shows 29 different butterflies and moths in the exhibit. You’ll notice three of the same type (the dark brown and light blue butterfly; 5th one down). I was able to get numerous different shots of this species. The most elusive was the Common Morpho, which rarely settled in one place long enough to photograph one. Wings closed, this rather large butterfly is various shades of brown with bronze-colored “eyes” on its wings. Wings open, it is the most gorgeous shade of metallic azure blue! I was able to get one shot with wings close and just a touch of the blue showing. I’ll post that separately. I did get one shot open, but it was on the window and the image isn’t tack sharp. I’ll post it anyway just to show how beautiful this butterfly is. Two of the images in this collage show mating butterflies, which the volunteers pointed out to us so we could photograph them.

© Cindy Dyer. All right reserved.



6 responses

5 09 2008


Great photos. Love the 2nd to the last one — I’ve never seen a butterfly like this one on any of my trips to Wings of Fancy.

Looking forward to seeing your photos of the Common Morpho.


5 09 2008
sue cummings

Unspeakable breathtaking beauty!!!

5 09 2008

Hi Patty!

That next to the last one was the Atlas Moth. He was in the exact same spot the entire two hours we were there. Michael said he was probably dead and they just pinned him to the tree; he never moved (the moth, not Michael! 😉 That moth must have had a wingspan of over six inches! Did you get any images of the Common Morpho? I got one nice one with just a peek at the blue inside. They were such teases when they did land! Did you see my Dad’s comment on your blog?

5 09 2008

Beautiful. Callaway Gardens near our house has a butterfly exhibit. I haven’t been in years.

6 09 2008

Breathtaking!!! What a joy to look at them. They should be available for any butterfly fan.

15 09 2008

It looks like you were in paradise.

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