Sunday, March 25, 2012

A trip to the Botanical Gardens and Butterfly exhibit

Back from Phoenix.  No painting on this trip - the landscape there didn't inspire at all.  

The highlight of our trip was spending a day at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix.  Thanks to a recent post on a crafter/photography blog I follow, I learned of the Butterfly Pavillion there, so of course, I had to go for that, as butterflies are quite possibly my favorite subject to photograph.

However, as seems befitting of my luck at such times, the autofocus on my telephoto lens decided this was a perfect time to crap out.   Trying to shoot small, detailed moving objects with manual focus and vision that isn't what it used to be resulted in a large percentage of out of focus and otherwise poor photos.   Now that my less-than-three-year-old Nikkor lens is a glorified paperweight, I'm going to upgrade to a better version.

Some interesting things we learned about the Butterfly Pavillion:  it is classified as a containment exhibit, which means that none of the butterflies, including those indigenous to the region, are raised there.  All come from butterfly farms, and are overnighted to the facility after they emerge from their pupas, in chilled containers.  In fact, a shipment arrived while we were there, and everyone who wanted was able to participate in the release of the butterflies.

They arrive in glassine envelopes, wings folded, usually two per envelope for smaller species.  To release them, the edge of the envelope is torn off, the top and other side opened.  As the sun warms them, they begin to move and will either fly or crawl out to a nearby flower.  Volunteers with synthetic feather dusters go around and pick up those that fly to the ground so they don't get stepped on.

Anyway, until I finish up my latest studio painting, here are some photos of the butterfly exhibit.  I'll post some of the botanical images later.

Male Queen butterfly on unopened yellow columbine

Pair of Julia Heliconians - a tropical longwing - on a bromeliad

Zebra Heliconinan - a tropical butterfly native to southern FL

Common Buckeye - a striking member of the Brushfoot family found throughout much of the southern US

Painted Lady butterfly - one of the most common butterflies in the US

Male Pipevine Swallowtail on petunia
Zebra Heliconinan - top view 

Female Pipevine Swallowtail


  1. Incredible photos! Sorry to read about the lens problem :-(.

  2. Thanks LeAnn - just tried to make the best of that situation instead of getting mad, which of course, accomplishes nothing ;).

  3. Wow! Stunning photos! Sorry about the camera though ;-(

    We visited a butterfly pavillion at a zoo we went to with the kids last year (maybe Franklin Park? - can't remember!). They were great fun to watch. I was wearing a baseball cap and a butterfly settled down on top of it and would not fly off the whole time we were there!

  4. Thanks Debbie! I know there is a butterfly pavilion near Cambridge, I think, because when I lived in CT, I met someone that worked or volunteered there. Maybe that's the same one? I had one of the swallowtails land on the back of my hand right after I walked in the enclosure and stay there for over a was so cute! Saw lots on hats and shirts and shoes as well :).

  5. Wow, you are an exceptional butterfly photographer!

  6. Thanks, Jala! I just love photographing these beautiful and benevolent creatures :).


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