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Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Butterfly World: Part 1

What can I say — I enjoy butterflies — viewing them and photographing them. So when I read about Butterfly World, which is located in Coconut Creek just north of Fort Lauderdale, I knew I had to visit. And it was a perfect respite from the sadness we all shared since my mom passed away.

"Butterfly World is the result of one man's hobby gone wild" or so reads the Official Guide. The founder is Ronald Boender who continues to be the managing partner. He began after retiring from his first career as an electrical engineer — raising local butterflies and growing plants to attract still more at his home. Eventually, he reached his dream with the opening of Butterfly World in 1988.

When you first enter the butterfly aviary, your eyes catch movement everywhere as dozens of butterflies flitter about. Eventually some settle down somewhere so you can study them more closely and, if they cooperate, snap a photo.

The butterfly to the right is a White Morpho. Note how it resembles a dead leaf but with "eyes' in case the first disguise doesn't work with some predator.

The grounds cover some 15 acres (my estimation) and includes a research laboratory, butterfly farm (where the caterpillars are raised), butterfly aviary (with some 3,000 butterflies), a hummingbird aviary, a tropical rain forest aviary, gardens, a Lorikeet Encounter aviary, a bug museum plus the typical cafe and gift shop. This week I will mostly focus on the butterflies — other areas will be shared in subsequent weeks.

This photo is a Blue Morpho. No blue you say? This is the underside of the wing and does not show the source of the name.

However in this photo, you can see a hint of the bright blue from the top side on the butterfly to the right. I saw many of these Blue Morphos flying about — where we could see the bright coloration dancing in the typical butterfly erratic flight pattern. Unfortunately, they are difficult to capture with my little point-and-shoot Canon — it takes too long to focus then open the shutter. But my eyes caught them and I assure you they are beautiful splashes of iridescent blue as they flitter about.

These butterflies are feeding on strips of bananas. Note the left-most butterfly which is a different variety — an Owl butterfly — with a similar defense mechanism.

Another Owl — notice how well the camouflage works in a natural setting?

This photo is a cute little Rosina feeding from a hummingbird feeder. One of the major efforts here at Butterfly World is trying to find how to satisfy these picky eaters. The butterflies themselves are not so picky — and most don't live long enough for that to be a big issue — the average life span is only 14 days in the aviary (compared to 7 days in the wild). However the caterpillar, which eventually metamorphoses into the butterfly, is the finicky one. Most varieties will only feed on one or two species of plants. Therefore the effort to raise these critters from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly requires the proper environment at all stages. Research goes on.

This butterfly is a Madiera. Note the long tongue for feeding on the nectar in deep-throated flowers.

Here is another one that illustrates the difficulty of capturing their images. Just as I triggered the shutter release, this Madiera decided to take off — thus the body is in focus but you see the motion blur of the wings. Even though one might consider that a flaw, I rather like the shot.

Here we find a Piano Key butterfly — note that pattern of light and dark on the back part of the wing — a pattern which provides its name.

I thought this was interesting — a Madiera and Rosina — looking like they engaged in a wrestling match and the Madiera won.

This was an interesting and beautiful butterfly — but one not named in the Official Guide. I even tried to find the name online but was ultimately unsuccessful.

Another interesting but nameless butterfly.

This is a Banded Morpho which also gives you a better idea of the coloration of the Blue Morpho above. Just imagine if you could spread the iridescent blue over 80% of the wing — that's what the Blue Morpho looks like.

Another Piano Key but a slightly different variety from the one above. It also seemed to be in a hurry since it was about to take off resulting in some motion blur on the left wing.

No, this is not a butterfly but a variety of spider munching on lunch. This photo was captured in the Bug Zoo. The spider has his own corner with a stalk of grass suspended from the ceiling. He was not constrained by bars or glass — so that if you did not pay attention you might get uncomfortably close — especially if you suffer from arachnophobia.


To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com