Queen (Danaus gilippus)

8 08 2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Monarch butterfly

8 08 2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Banded Orange (Dryadula phaetusa)

8 08 2010

Photographed at the Wings of Fancy exhibit at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





A Monarch for Mary Ellen

8 08 2010

Photographed this afternoon at the Wings of Fancy exhibit at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland. More images to come!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






A flash of blue

5 09 2008

As promised, here are two photos of the very elusive Blue Morpho butterfly from the Wings of Fancy exhibit at Brookside Gardens. And despite the fact that the bottom photo is just a blur of motion, it’s not as bad as I originally thought. It certainly shows how beautiful this butterfly is.

It is about a 115-day process from egg stage until it reaches adulthood. Native to the tropical rainforests of Central America, South America, and Mexico, the Blue Morpho is one of over 80 species of the genus Morpho. It is one of the largest butterflies in the world, with wings spanning from 5 to 8 inches. The iridescent blue color is a result of the microscopic scales on the backside of their wings that reflect light. The contrasting dull brown exterior and the brilliant blue interior serves as a protective measure—as the Blue Morpho flies, it confuses potential predators. (Trust me, it works. I had a hard time following them!)

As a caterpillar, it chews leaves of various trees; as an adult, it can no longer chew. It drinks its food instead, preferring the juice of rotting fruit, fluids of decomposing animals, fungi, wet mud, and tree sap. Blue Morphos are severely threatened by deforestation of tropical forests and habitat destruction, and humans are a direct threat because of their desire to collect them.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





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
Clipper
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
Malachite
Browntip
Painted Lady
Red Postman
Gray Cracker
Common Morpho
Common Mormon
Monarch
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.