Tailed Jay (Graphium agamemnon)
A powerful flier and nervous flutterer, the Tailed Jay is never still, not even when at work on a flower. This one, however, was strangely motionless on this leaf, almost as though it was enjoying the raindrops falling on its wings.
I was huddled under an umbrella when I shot this off a side road in the heart of Cochin.
"And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky,
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation" -- from "Woodstock" (Joni Mitchell)
Earlier this year I'd been to a delightful resort in Alappuzha called Kayaloram. There were butterflies galore in their garden.
The brilliant coloring of the Common Bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon) is shown to advantage here, as is the fighter-plane-like V-shaped marking.
The Common Emigrant (Catopsilia pyranthe) belongs to the family Peridae. The name "butterfly" (butter + fly) is derived from this family on account of their yellow (butter-like) wings.
The Emigrants, of which India has two species, sometimes reproduce simultaneously. The large numbers of caterpillars devour all the vegetation in the area, forcing the adults that hatch from these caterpillars to migrate elsewhere for host plants for their larvae. The result is sometimes mass migration, with millions of these individuals looking like a giant cloud (that sometimes has a footprint of a few square kilometers) as they fly together (from Butterflies of Peninsular India by Krushnamegh Kunte).
The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
against a white stone. . . .
Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ‘way up high.
It went away I’m sure because it wished to
kiss the world good-bye.
From "The Butterfly" by Pavel Friedman
The Lime Butterfly (Papilio demolius) is a gorgeous butterfly that I've seen just twice. The first time it was flying overhead and was gone in the twinkling of an eye. The second time I found it in my garden. This butterfly is attracted by citrus plants; hence, the name Lime Butterfly.
Another view, with more of the surrounding greenery included.
I found it, and I named it, being versed
in taxonomic Latin; thus became
godfather to an insect and its first
describer -- and I want no other fame.
(Vladimir Nabokov, "On Naming a Butterfly," 1943)
The Common Leopard (Phalanta phalantha) appeared suddenly one day out of the blue in the grounds where I look for butterflies. This is a restless butterfly that hardly stays still long enough to be photographed. This butterfly shares the record with the Rustic for the fastest development from the laying of the egg to the emergence of the adult from the pupa, 21 days.
Like butterflies in Spring
Poetry awakens the Spirit,
Stirs the imagination,
And explores the possibilities
With each stroke
Of its rhythmic wings.
Jamie Lynn Morris
The Rustic (Cupha erymanthis) entered my life one afternoon, when I saw a brown and yellow apparition floating lazily among the branches of a tree. I've seen many a brown butterfly, but this one was beautiful, boasting cream, gold, yellow, and it seemed to me, every shade between cream and brown. In fact, I was reminded of the colors of the caramel pudding my mother used to make.
I approached this new butterfly, but it did not cooperate, and flew over the wall. Subsequently, I saw it on several occasions, but this is a wary butterfly and would not allow me to shoot it.
How I managed to shoot it later is a story for the future, but for now, enjoy these pictures of a pair of Rustics mating. The first three photos were taken at about 1:15 pm, and the last one at about 5 pm.
I saw a brown leaf; no, turned out to be a Rustic and his mate,
Even the passage of three hours could not their passion sate;
Is this exhibition of staying power,
Due to a diet of nectar of flower?
I'd like to have had a little chat with them about this in private.
I have a soft corner for this picture as I took it about a year after buying my first camera, when insect close-ups were not even a gleam in my eye. This turned out well, by sheer chance.
This dragonfly, the Common Picture Wing (Ryothemis variegata), looks like a butterfly. The muted brown and yellow color scheme is elegant, if understated. It's rarely found away from water bodies and marshes.
The Common Picture Wing's movements are unhurried and graceful, unlike the dashing, swift movements of the its predator-looking cousins. I have often seen this dragonfly dancing in the sun, the wings beating rapidly up and down like a humming bird's, the body in contrast slowly, very slowly, moving up and then down again.
As boys we sported cruelly with dragonflies; I remember, to my eternal shame,
Stealing up behind them on tip-toe, looped thread in hand, tightening the same
Around their gleaming tail,
And watching them flail;
Most of us don't cross an unwritten line with animals, but insects are fair game.
The Red Pierrot (Lycaenidae; Talicada nyseus) is a striking, elegant butterfly that I've spotted just a couple of times in the city. It's a weak flier, and generally sticks close to the ground.
My striking red jacket has attracted many a pretty wench,
With whom I've exchanged sweet nothings on many a park bench;
I've come here to India,
On an invitation by Scindia;
As you can see from my name, I'm actually French.
A sportive middle-aged male called Polly,