If you guessed that the Owl butterfly got its name because its massive eyespots resemble an owl’s eyes, you’d be right.
They’re large, fly slowly and can only handle short distances at a time, making them easy targets for predators. (And for humans who package and transport them more than 5000 miles, such as poet Ruth Sharman’s father, as described in her poem, The Birth Of The Owl Butterflies. Check it out, it’s a thoughtful digression.)
Caligo eurilochus is also nocturnal, which spares it from some of those predators, too lazy, groggy or darkness-impaired to hunt them under cover of the night. Their range is fairly wide, from Mexico south through Central America and across the equator to the Amazon basin.
Its life cycle, via the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History:
- Egg: 22 days
- Caterpillar: 60 days
- Chrysalis: 22-30 days
- Adult: 21 days
- Total life span: 125 – 133 days
These photos were taken during a visit to the Butterfly Farm, one of several places where butterflies are the chief attraction in Mindo, Ecuador, a 29-hectare reserve that’s home to 1200 butterfly species where visitors can experience the four stages of metamorphosis up close. Its exhibit area has 25 species on display.
Visits to the various butterfly farms are popular and worthwhile day trips from Quito, generally combined with a jungle canopy tour, bird and wildlife hikes and visits to local chocolate producers. Even if I remembered There’s no need to recommend one; tour operators are plentiful and rates very competitive. Ask at your hotel or hostel. They’ll happily hook you up.
And while we’re at it, a few more butterflies below.
Today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 1,241st straight, was snapped in Mindo, Ecuador, on 28 May 2013.