Readers’ wildlife photographs

May 8, 2016 • 7:40 am

For Mother’s Day we have a bouquet of butterflies, all from reader Robert Lang, and all taken in Costa Rica:

We saw gorgeous butterflies everywhere, but the majority of these photos were shot at the butterfly conservatory in the town of Monteverde, such as this Banded Orange Longwing (Dryadula phaetusa).


Another brilliant bit of orange is sported by this Tiger Longwing (Heliconius hecale):


But the prize for orangeness goes to the Julia, (Dryas Iulia). (This one was probably near the end of its life, as it had started to lose some bits of wing.)


The Menelaus Blue Morphos (Morpho menelaus) are the iconic tropical butterfly, but are frustrating to photograph. When flying, their stunning blue wings flash as they dart and weave, but the instant they land, they fold their wings, displaying a brown pattern with spots completely unlike the iridescent blue tops.


I finally found one that had landed on the mesh netting walls of the conservatory enclosure with its wings out, and got off a shot before it returned to erratic flight.


Here is the Small Postman butterfly (Heliconius melpomene rosina), so named because it follows the same route from flower to flower every day.


There’s also the False Postman (Heliconius clysonymus), which looks like a Small Postman, but has the colors reversed.


There were two glasswing butterflies, so named because their wings are clear, or nearly so. First, an ordinary glasswing (sorry, unidentified species).


And then the Stained Glasswing (sorry, couldn’t identify the species), whose wings are translucent. [JAC: Is this right? I see no translucence.]


The Owl Butterfly (Caligo sp.) is named for its wingspots that cause it to resemble an owl and, perhaps, thereby ward off predators.


A Sulphur (Colias sp.) gives us a bit of yellow.


And then two rather impressively striped ones: the Thoas Swallowtail (Papilio thoas):


And the Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia):


And perhaps my favorite striking pattern, the Mexican Silverspot (Dione moneta).



17 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photographs

  1. Beautiful! I also enjoyed taking a series of pictures from a butterfly house this Winter, but mine fall well short of yours in the # of species. I did not know why the postman had its peculiar name. Also, yes, the magnificent morphos are rather frustrating for the reasons you state.

  2. Lovely photos. The wings of the Stained Glasswing do indeed appear translucent; you can see the webbing of the screen right through them.

    1. No, I think you are seeing the wing veins. That looks like a typical Ithomiid or Heliconius. But some Ithomiids do have transparent or translucent wings, so it could deserve the name. I do not know how standardized butterfly common names are in Costa Rica.

      1. Having looked up the names of many of these species, I can report that there are a lot of synonyms for the common names.

      2. You can see the zigzag of the background grid continueing through the wings, which look translucent to me, too (quite clearly). The veins are also visible, but have a different structure.

  3. Beautiful little creatures, great photos. Thanks for sharing. I looked up and read about the Morpho menelaus. Went well with my morning coffee.

  4. I love butterflies and we have very few in NZ – this is a real treat. Thank you. 🙂

      1. We don’t have lots of big, beautifully coloured ones is what I should have said, especially in town.

        1. I believe, based on some articles I’ve read, that if you grab them and stretch their wings, their offspring will be more bigger. 😉

  5. From “Some Ingenious Thoughts” in Curiosities of Literature by Isaac D’Israeli

    “P. Commire, a pleasing writer of Latin verse, says of the flight of a butterfly,

    ‘Florem Putores nare per liquidum aethera.’

    ‘It Flies, and swims a flower in liquid air!'”

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