Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stalking A Butterfly

Anyone who has ever tried to photograph a butterfly sitting on a flower knows that the only way to do that is to stalk one relentlessly. And that’s what I had to do to snap the photos below.

Last week I noticed a butterfly fluttering around my garden and I was elated! Once these littler critters show themselves, you know that the gardening season has officially begun.



Of course, I just had to get a photo of this pretty little thing that seemed to favour my garden. I was actually quite flattered by its presence.



But taking a photo of it didn’t prove easy. I followed stalked it with my camera in hand, eager to snap a decent photo. Hopefully more. It took a long time and a lot of running around the yard (and pleading) to finally get some shots.



There aren’t that many perennials in bloom, but more than enough dandelions, which this little butterfly was fine with. Butterflies don’t discriminate against invasive flowers that we consider weeds. Does it have nectar? Yes. Then it's a good flower.


I think this is the one time I’m grateful for the presence of so many dandelions.


There was a lot of sunshine when these photos were taken, which is not the best time to take images, but butterflies prefer sunny days and are less likely to fly on cool, overcast days, so I made the best of it.



There are about 20,000 species of butterflies, and more than 750 species of butterflies live in the United States and Canada.



Butterflies are the second largest group of pollinators -- next to bees. All butterflies metamorphose from eggs to caterpillars, and then harden into chrysalis for the pupal stage. They then emerge as beautiful winged adults that we admire. In the summer the entire process takes from 5 to 10 weeks.



The ancient Greeks called butterflies 'Psyche' which also means 'soul.' Many cultures feel that when we die our souls go to heaven as butterflies.


Since butterflies are cold blooded it is necessary for them to warm up their flight muscles. This is done by basking in the sun in order to absorb heat.


The largest threat to butterflies is loss of habitat, which is a rather sad thought.

For more butterfly trivia, click here.

18 comments:

  1. That is a red admiral butterfly that you captured so wonderfully. Large amounts of them are in our area earlier than usual as they were blown up here with the last couple of storm systems.

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    1. Thanks for that info, Crafty Gardener! I really had no idea what type it was. When the weather was warmer (now it's unusually cold out!), my backyard was full of them. I am grateful to have had a chance to photograph this one.

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  2. I went to a butterfly exhibit at a zoo with my daughters and finally got to see one up close.Just like in your photos, when I see butterflies up close, I'm starting to think that without their pretty wings, they're really just bugs! (which my 10 year old informed me, "Duh dad, of course they are.")

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    1. Ha ha... "Duh"... You will hear a lot of that as your kids get older. After all, there comes a time when our kids 'know everything' and we're somewhat dim-witted!

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  3. They are always a welcome sight after winter.

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    1. For sure! I'm looking forward to the dragonflies. Now there's one cool-looking bug!

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  4. Great shots, Martha. I can attest to how difficult getting a good butterfly shot can be. When our lilacs were in bloom, I spent WAY too much time standing by the lilac bush---waiting, waiting, waiting...

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    1. And waiting.... :) But in the end it's worth it. I have a few plants in my garden that attract butterflies, so I hope to capture some cool images this summer.

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  5. I love the idea of the soul becoming a butterfly. We saw the most beautiful aqua and black butterfly on an early morning walk and it is was so still on the path, that I thought it was dead. I was so happy when it flew away so quickly. I wish I had gotten a photo of it, but I was so glad that it was alive! The colors!!! The aqua color against the black, it makes me want to go shopping to see if I can find a shirt in those colors!
    And I almost fell over at Stone Mountain trying to get a shot of the Zebra butterfly, oh, they are so fast!!

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    1. I love the aqua colour! I can only image how pretty that butterfly was. Geeze, Kay, don't go following off that mountain! Who is going to share those lovely images of it with us? LOL...

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  6. Such beautiful, uplifting pictures; your perseverance really comes through! Thank you so much for your kind words about my grandmother (my godmother passed away a day later), and my thoughts have been very much on life and transformation -- metamorphosis. Your butterfly pictures capture the fragility of life, but also the beauty, the wonder, and the sunshine.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear that. May she also rest in peace. I think when someone we love passes away, we reflect on life and the world around us.

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  7. I was trying to get a photo of this little fella myself in my garden the other day but couldn't get one with his wings open. Wonderful photos. One of my favorite poems is called the Yellow Pansy, but it's about a butterfly... well, it's about so much more. I'll let you read it.

    To the wall of the old green garden
    A butterfly quivering came;
    His wings on the sombre lichens
    Played like a yellow flame.

    He looked at the grey geraniums
    And the sleepy four-o-clocks;
    He looked at the low lanes bordered
    With the glossy-growing box.

    He longed for the peace and the silence,
    And the shadows that lengthened there,
    And his wee wild heart was weary
    Of skimming the endless air.

    And now in the old green garden,
    I know not how it came,
    A single pansy is blooming,
    Bright as a yellow flame.

    And whenever a gay gust passes,
    It quivers as if with pain,
    For the butterfly-soul that is in it
    Longs for the winds again!

    It's by a woman named Helen Grey Cone and was written in the 1800's. It's one of my all time favorite poems and makes me cry every time I recite it or read it.

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    1. That poem is simply beautiful. It really touched me and I thank you for sharing it. I am very sensitive to all living things around me. I feel that they all have a place in this world.

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  8. Bird, I just read the poem you posted and it made me tear up! So beautiful! And Martha we also have the Red Admiral, I think I read somewhere that they prefer to lay their eggs on stinging nettle. I have a close relationship with butterflies/death/transformation and life. I have had several unusual encounters with butterflies after the deaths of loved ones. They are living works of art!

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    1. They are very special creatures. And I like your statement "They are living works of art!". Oh yes, they truly are. At the hand of Mother Nature!

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  9. LOL! How many times have I tried to do this and failed! These are great shots Martha and I do appreciate the 'work' it took to get them!

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    1. It takes a lot of patience to photograph butterflies. I've managed to get very few shots of them over the years. Once in awhile one will sit on a flower basking in the sun, which is the best time for a nice photo. But that's also when you don't have the camera with you!

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