Winged Wonders

North Carolina Museum of Life+Science

In a tropical sanctuary of over 250 species of flowering vegetation and a canopy of trees, one thousand butterflies flit and flutter to the awe and amazement of visitors to the NC Museum of Life + Science’s Magic Wings Butterfly House.

Over the course of two separate visits there with my nephew, I captured a small fraction of these winged wonders.  I’d love to go back sometime when I have hours to just watch and wait for the perfect opportunities to photograph them in all their splendor. (It’s harder than you’d think!)

Enjoy these tropical beauties!

Paper Kite

The Paper Kite is from Southeast Asia. Its wings are translucent and look like fine paper. The caterpillars of this butterfly eat toxic plants, the poison of which is carried on into their butterfly state. As a result, animals learn to avoid eating Paper Kites. [1]


Gray Owls

The Gray Owl is a very large butterfly that is native to Central and South America and enjoys shaded areas.[2] During my visits, these Owl Butterflies fed quite a bit on fermenting fruit which is their common practice.


Brown Owl

The Brown Owl, like the Gray Owl, is native to Central and South America. Owl Butterflies characteristically have patterns on their undersides that include many brown, gray, black or yellow lines and spots and one large, eyelike spot on the hindwing. The upperside, however, has muted colors of either charcoal gray (Gray Owl) or light brown (Brown Owl).[3]

From my reading, I learned that scientists believe the large eyelike spot on the hindwing (underside, which you can see in the previous pictures ot the Gray Owls) is designed to trick preditors into thinking it is the head of the butterfly.  As a result, the butterfly only loses a fraction of its “tail” – as opposed to its head – when preyed upon.  Could this have happened to the Brown Owl in this photo?  I’m no expert, but its tail looks a bit raggedy to me.


Scarlet Peacock

The Scarlet Peacock comes from South America. It is a small, active butterfly that was difficult to capture at rest during my visit; yet at the same time, this sort of butterfly likes to bask in the sun with its wings spread.[4]


Sapho Longwing

Based on my research, I think this butterfly is a Sapho Longwing.  If so, the ones acquired by the NC Museum of Life+Science come from Costa Rica and live for several months.[5]


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idea_leuconoe
[2] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caligo
[3] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caligo
[4] http://www.flickr.com/photos/ncmls/
[5] Ibid.

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  1. Pingback: Saturday Links: Aliens, Canyons, Butterflies, & ‘Who am I?’ | Creation Science 4 Kids

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