February 23, 2011


Since my new book (coming out in August) is BUTTERFLIES, I was very excited to be able to visit Aruba’s Butterfly Farm. It is a large garden, all enclosed by netting, with cocoons, caterpillars, and thousands of delicate butterflies from all over the world. Have you ever seen a black and white butterfly? This beauty is called a Rice Paper Butterfly (Idea leuconoe), and they were quite curious, fluttering around us the whole time that we were there.

Readers often ask me what my favorite animal is, and I always reply that it is whatever animal I am writing about at the moment. I do a lot of research when I am writing a book, and the more I learn, the more fascinated I become. So, my favorite animal at the moment is the butterfly, and it was SO exciting to be in this relatively small space and surrounded by fluttering creatures! 

The one on the right is called a Scarlet Swallowtail (Papilio Rumanzovia) - isn’t it beautiful? Any butterfly that has the two long, trailing pieces at the bottom of their wings is some kind of swallowtail.

Butterflies protect themselves from predators in many ways. For example, when it is a caterpillar, the Monarch butterfly eats a leaf that is poison to many animals. By storing the poison in its body, the adult Monarch butterfly is avoided by predators who would otherwise eat it. Other butterflies protect themselves through an amazing natural phenomenon called "mimicry" - they appear to be something else altogether, like a leaf, a stick, or a piece of bark. While we were there, my wife Liz shot a video of a Dead-Leaf butterfly. Click on this link to play the video and you will see exactly how mimicry works.

Dead-Leaf Butterfly Video.

The scientific name for the Dead-Leaf butterfly is Kallima inachus. Whomever gave this genus of tropical butterflies the name Kallima must have been looking at the topside of the wings, since it comes from the Greek word for "beautiful"!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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