To “Shoot” a Butterfly
HAVE you ever tried to “shoot” a butterfly—with a camera? It can be an irritating experience and a test of patience. They constantly flutter by on their apparently endless quest for food and drink, seldom giving you time to take a good photo. Then when they do land and spread their wings and you are just trying to get that critical focus, your precious beauty either closes its wings or takes off!
So imagine my reaction when a friend in Sydney, Australia, said: “Let’s go to the Butterfly House in Mittagong.” Here was my chance to see butterflies close up and perhaps take good photos under ideal conditions.
When we stepped into the live flight area of the butterfly house, we realized at once that we were in a controlled tropical atmosphere, insulated from the temperature changes outside. This is essential for the butterflies’ survival. All around us these delicate creatures flitted from plant to plant. As soon as we entered, we saw a beautiful orange-colored monarch laying her eggs on a citrus plant. In Australia the monarch is known as the wanderer. It reached this island-continent from North America in 1870 and is now established in eastern and southern regions as well as near Perth in the far west.
Kerry, our guide, explained to us how these butterflies mate by connecting end to end. But here is the remarkable part—if the male is suddenly frightened, he takes off, carrying the female with him! Imagine virtually carrying someone your own weight, and on the wing! Then, to our amazement, we actually saw it happen—and there he was, winging his way over the bushes with the female passively hanging on.
Of course, the monarch is known worldwide for great feats of travel. As the book Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?a states: “Monarch butterflies leave Canada in the fall, many wintering in California or Mexico. Some flights exceed 2,000 miles [3,200 km]; one butterfly covered 80 miles [130 km] in a day.” But here is a remarkable fact: “The butterflies that come south in the fall are young individuals which have never before seen the hibernation sites. What enables them to find these is still one of those elusive mysteries of Nature.”—The Story of Pollination.
But were we able to shoot any of these elusive creatures? Yes! They seemed to be used to people moving around in their humid world and settled easily on plants and even on human heads! So the photographers had a field day, especially video-camera enthusiasts. What a delight afterward to see those moving images on the TV by means of a videotape recorder.
Other Australian butterflies that we saw were the blackwinged common eggfly, with purple-ringed white spots on its wings. Another beauty was the blue-banded eggfly, delicately designed with white spots and frills around the edges of its wings and blue bands inside. It has relatives in New Guinea, the Moluccas, and the Solomon Islands.
Butterflies have always intrigued me. The metamorphosis from a caterpillar (larva) via the pupa (chrysalis), or resting stage, to the flying wonder is to me a testimony, not to the so-called blind forces of nature and evolution, but to the scientific Creator, who has made all things wonderful in their different ways.—Contributed.
a Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
[Pictures on page 16, 17]
Page 16: monarch; 1. Australian lurcher; 2. pupa; 3. ulysses; 4. Australian birdwing; 5. birdwings mating; 6. orange lacewing
All butterflies: Butterfly House, Mittagong, Australia