Hello to those of you who look forward to Fridays!!! Because once again, it’s time for another edition of Friday Flyers! In our last episode, our heroes were carefully walking through the jungle hoping to see lots of beautiful butterflies, but trying to avoid the more dangerous jungle hazards. Today, we’re back home, and ready to find out about some of the Western Hemisphere’s favorite butterflies---Owl Butterflies.
Owl butterflies are some of the largest members of the Nymphalid family. There are 20 to 30 species of Owl butterflies and closely related species, distributed from Mexico to Argentina, with most of the species coming from South America. They are favorites among collectors and also with the general public. Owl butterflies are a featured attraction at most live butterfly houses because they are large and beautiful, and they readily feed and rest in full view, where observers can easily photograph them close-up. They will sometimes even land on you!!! Depending on the species, Owl butterflies can reach wingspans of six inches or more. But as big as they are, they prefer the darker more heavily forested areas of the rainforest. They usually don’t fly more than 10 feet off the ground, and they seem to adeptly fly within some fairly tight spaces.
The dorsal (upper side) of the owl butterfly’s wings range from the yellow to brown “earth tones” in some species to dark blues and blacks in other species. There are a few species that have bright royal blue colors on their wings sometimes with some iridescence. But the name Owl comes from the ventral (under side) wing patterns. The ventral patterns of all Owl butterfly species are famous for the large Eye Spots which are even shaded to look like real eyes. These eyespots are surrounded on the rest of the wing by extremely cryptic markings that look like tree bark, or possible feather edges. When at rest in a tree or on a branch, the undersides of the Owl’s wings make it look like a large predator, thus momentarily scaring a wood be attacker.
In the rainforest, you will rarely see an Owl butterfly in flight. Usually you will only see them if you scatter bait of the trails. The best bait is usually rotting fruit, or bananas with brown sugar. You’ll be well rewarded for your efforts, as the butterflies will remain occupied feeding while you cautiously approach with your camera. Although Owl butterflies will actively feed during the day, their preferred flight time is either dawn or dusk---the closer to dark the better. We have seen Owl butterflies flying at these times, when our eyes are barely able to see their shapes darting in and out of the forest. And they can fly VERY fast. Most of the time you can’t even tell what you’ve seen, it’s just a fast moving blurred shadow.
Owl butterflies are a favorite in our Wonders Of Nature department too. We have several on display, either in single frames, or in our new double glass frames. We have an outstanding vibrant Owl Butterfly in our 8 X 8-inch wood frame priced at only $125. The double glass frames allow you to see both the colorful side AND the cryptic side of these magnificent butterflies, and we have Owl Butterflies in two of these assortments.
Please tell your friends about our Wonders Of Nature Page, and be sure to “like” and “share” it! And when you’re in the area, please stop in and see some of our newest “Wonders”. There’s no substitute for seeing them in person. Happy Friday!
From our Ecuador species survey report, this is a spectacular Caligo atreus Owl butterfly!
Newly hatched Owl butterflies! The caterpillars of most species feed on banana leaves.tup like this!
A spectacular Caligo bellerophon, an Owl butterfly. This is a photo we used in our Ecuador species survey report.
The bottom surface of the Bellerophon Owl butterfly!
We took this picture on one of our research trips to the jungle. It is an Owl butterfly feeding on our banana bait.
The bottom surface of the amazing Atreus Owl butterfly! This is framed in an 8 x 8" frame and is priced at just $125!!
A large Owl butterfly in our massive 100-specimen collection panel!
Two spectacular giant Owl butterflies!! This double glass collection panel allows you to see both the top surface and the bottom surface of the butterflies' wings.