Yesterday, October 7, 2014, was a real treat for viewing and enjoying butterflies near Atlanta, Georgia. The past several days have been gorgeous, with just about perfect weather. Yesterday was one of the most beautiful days of the year, and the butterflies were highly enjoying it as well!
The Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus) must be migrating and making their way back to Mexico because there were two on our butterfly bushes yesterday. One Monarch stayed all day long, and the other was on “lay-over,” only staying for a little while. They both replenished their energy by drinking the nectar from the Buddleja butterfly bush flowers.
Also getting re-energized at the Buddleja bush was a Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly (Limenitis arthemis). I had seen this butterfly (I will assume that it is the same one) a few days ago, but when I went to get my camera and returned to take some pictures, it was already gone. So, I was delighted to see it again and take my opportunity to photograph it.
There were also several Skippers, Sulphurs, and Fritillaries flying about yesterday, as well. While they were too quick for me to get any pictures of them, it was great to get some photos of the Monarchs and Purple. It was definitely The Festival of the Butterflies here yesterday! 🙂
Two weeks ago, my son and I visited the fabulous Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, Gainesville Campus! If you are a Lepidoptera lover, this is a place that I highly recommend that you visit! In the entomology section of the museum there is a Butterfly Rainforest; a laboratory; caterpillar rearing exhibits; a pupae room; display cases of butterflies, moths, and other insects; nearly a three-storied high display of butterflies and moths in cases and/or photographs of them; models of butterflies and moths; and videos about butterflies that are presented.
The Florida Museum of Natural History includes a Butterfly Rainforest within a section that is devoted mostly to Lepidoptera – butterflies, moths, caterpillars, and pupae. The Butterfly Rainforest is a tropically-styled habitat for butterflies and moths, and it includes many trees, plants, flowers, birds, fish, and turtles. In the Butterfly Rainforest, we observed many different species of tropical butterflies, photographs of some of which are included in this post.
To me, the most beautiful of the butterflies in the Butterfly Rainforest were the Morpho butterflies. The large Morphos (Morpho peleides) in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat have eyespots on the undersides of their brown wings, and have a beautiful, irridescent blue color on the upper side of their wings. The striking, large Owl butterflies (Caligo memnon or Caligo idomeneus), also with beautiful eyespots, were also wonderful to view.
There were also several Paper Kite butterflies (Idea leuconoe) in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat. These butterflies may also be known as Rice Paper butterflies or Large Tree Nymph butterflies. They butterflies are large, with a wingspan of about 4″-5″, and have black and white stripes on their wings. They are slow and deliberate in their flight, and remind me of kites that are flying in the wind.
A couple of other butterflies that my son and I enjoyed observing in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat included the Brown Clipper (Parthenos sylvia brown) and Blue Clipper (Parthenos sylvia blue). This butterfly has two color forms – brown and blue – and is respectively native to the Phillipines and Malaysia. Both butterflies are beautiful to behold. They are fast fliers; and their stripes resemble those of tigers.
A very unique feature of the Florida Museum of Natural History, Lepidoptera and Entomology Section, is the Butterfly Wall. This wall is nearly three stories high, and contains photographs of butterflies and moths, as well as display cases that show them. It is extremely impressive! Following are photographs of the Butterfly Wall, as well as certain sections of it. Also to follow are pictures of the Pupae Room and Caterpillar Rearing Area. Some of the photos may also include my son.
Also included in the Museum were many display cases that presented butterflies, moths, and other insects. Following are photos of a few of the display cases.
Videos educating visitors about Lepidoptera were also available for viewing at the Museum. While my son and I were there, we watched a portion of a video about Monarch butterflies. It was great to be able to explain to my son how Monarchs migrate and roost.
All of the butterflies in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat were a real treat to watch as they flew throughout the enclosure, with a few landing on their human observers. In all, we spent about two hours at the Florida Museum of Natural History, also enjoying the Titanoboa Exhibit. We had a really great time there, and wish we could have stayed longer!
The Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus) – or milkweed butterflies – appear to be flying south for the winter. Last week, I saw a Monarch near my home, as well as one in Lilburn, Georgia. They are much more rare to observe these days, due to so many of them freezing and dying in Mexico where their winter roosting areas have been cut down and cleared in recent years.
When I was a girl, I remember seeing observing many Monarchs throughout the summer and fall, particularly on and around the milkweed plants on which their larvae feed. One fall, in Western New York State, when I was in my early teens, I had the once-in-a-lifetime privilege of viewing 100s of Monarchs roosting at the edge of a woods, among some trees with overhanging branches and vines. I will always remember that, and to this day, I still wish I’d had a camera to document the amazing event!
The particular Monarch in the pictures herein visited the flowers around our home for two days before continuing on it’s travels. Monarchs have such beautiful, bright, and vibrant orange and black colors! They are magnificent to behold, and are a sure sign that fall has arrived.