Florida Photo Journal #6 ~ Honoring the Butterfly [Slide Show]
Whether young or old, we have all found ourselves, at one time or another, fascinated with butterflies. Their small bodies and large colorful wings captivate the imagination and delight the eyes. And, as children, most of us learned the story of their life cycle in school. As a child myself, I also remember running through fields near my home for hours on end just for the joy of seeing their colors and watching them fly. And now, as a photographer and lover of nature, I still find myself mesmerized by their beauty and the magic they offer both my eyes and camera.
Over 20,000 different species of butterflies have been found around the world. Depending on the species their life span ranges from one week to almost one year. They also have some of the most striking colors found in nature, colors that camouflage them from predators, serve as warnings and help attract mates. The basic colors like blacks and browns come from the same chemical that tans our skin from the sun. And, those those dazzling blues, greens, reds and iridescence come from thin scales loosely attached to their wings which act like thousands of small prisms.
No matter how well planned, finding and photographing butterflies in nature is rarely easy. Fortunately, there are hundreds of butterfly release programs and living exhibit centers across the USA where these beautiful creatures are allowed to breed, kept save from predators, and live in a carefully controlled environment in which we can experience and enjoy them close-up.
While I have visited many of these programs and centers around the country, my most favorite is The Butterfly Rainforest, in Gainesville. Operated by the Florida Museum of Natural History, this 6,500 square foot (604 m²) facility houses more than more than 60 species and over 1,000 butterflies at any given time. It also contains dozens of walking paths, overlooks and even benches for resting, where you can enjoy and photograph these amazing creatures throughout the day.
Above is an interactive slide containing some of the images made during a recent visit to The Butterfly Rainforest in Gainesville. Once you begin the show you can either click on a specific photo to view it in a larger size, or easily navigate from one photo to the next.