Linda spotted the Snout Butterfly (Libytheana carinenta) tasting the guard rail along the end of a boardwalk across a pond yesterday. It was working up and down where people like to lean to watch tadpoles, dragonflies and sometimes water snakes. She had just made two images when it flew over to land on her camera. It spent the next 25 minutes exploring and sucking in the salts while exploring the nooks and crannies of her camera, lens and tripod. We have encountered butterflies who stopped for a quick sip on a camera and then moved on. This one stayed.
Bob had the pleasure of photographing it as it did what is called ‘puddling’ on the camera equipment rather than the ground or a puddle. It did fly down to the pond surface one time, landing on some algae to take a quick drink and return to the tasty tripod. In the top image it has its proboscis in a crevice in the metal that holds an external flash. In the bottom image the proboscis is in a crevice on the screw that tightens the lens foot clamp on the tripod head.
Snout Butterflies are also called American Snouts or Common Snouts. They are members of a small group of butterflies that are mostly sub-tropical and tropical. Their snouts are palps extending from the front of their heads. This allows them to look like leaves on short stems when their leaf-like wings are folded to camouflage in foliage. Their wing tops are quite colorful – orange, white, black and brown. The two palps are just visible on this image.
Butterflies with pale eyes, like the Snout, appear to have dark spots that face the viewer no matter what angle it is seen. These are called pseudopupils. Butterflies have thousands of narrow photoreceptors, each with its lens. Those photoreceptors not pointed straight at the viewer reflect light and the ones directly facing are dark because they are absorbing light. There is a good article about butterfly eyes in the Winter 2000 issue of American Butterflies magazine. Snout Butterflies were among the examples used.
This specimen was not intimidated by us. Linda turned the tripod and the tripod head, as needed, to align the wings perpendicular to the 70-200mm lens and parallel with the sensor in Bob’s camera. It just rode around as if it was on a carnival ride, continuing to suck up what it craved. It is pleasant to have willing subjects.