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Papilio machaon #2

Posted by
Johan Dierckx (Wijnegem, Belgium) on 18 August 2010 in Animal & Insect and Portfolio.

The same butterfly as yesterday's image and only some minutes passed between the two photos. In this one I tried to capture the mornign-sunlight shining trough the wings. In this image you also can see the severe damage on one of the wings but as far as I could observe this was no problem for a normal flight. (All specimens I found on that day had some wing-damage - it must be a hard life as a butterfly....)

Males of this species have a typical mate-location behaviour called "Hill-topping ": males may be found flying to congregate at the top of hills, where they compete for the attention of passing females. Females, desirous of mating, fly up the hill. Males dash around the top, competing for the best part of the area - usually the very top; as the male with the best territory at the top of the hill would have the best chance of mating with the occasional female, who knows the "top male" must be strong and thus genetically fit. Many authors consider this as a form of lekking behaviour. Knowing this behaviour enlarges your chanses to find the species: search at the top of the hill !

In the morning, and again in late afternoon both sexes can be seen flying freely about their habitat, pausing regularly to nectar. When nectaring they often keep their wings constantly fluttering to prevent the weight of their bodies from dragging down on the fragile flowers. This fluttering behaviour is typical of all Papilioninae, wherever they occur in the world.

Image: Bassenge (BE) - 09/08/2010

Canon EOS 400D 1/200 second F/5.6 ISO 200 150 mm

© Johan Dierckx

The photos on this site are copyrighted, which prohibits anyone to use them to sell, give away, use in email or newsgroups, use in a homepage or otherwise showing to the public without my explicit, prior, written permission. Please feel free to use the "contact"-button below to contact me with any questions.

All species are photographed in their natural habitat, without cutting or capturing them, and with maximal respect and the least possible disturbance to the environment.

(To see species in the same taxonomic rank (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus), please use the tags provided with the image. The last tag is the Iso-code for the country where the image was taken. Image-date in DD/MM/YYYY format.)

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Chris Anderson from New york, United States

Beautiful image....Nice soft focus and perfect details. Love how he has landed on it, nice angle.

18 Aug 2010 6:13am

@Chris Anderson: Thank you very much, Chris.

Christine from Duns, United Kingdom

The lighting is lovely, it almost looks as if the butterfly is posing. I guess as it gets later in the season they get more tattered and torn, how long do the live? I enjoyed reading about the "Hill Topping"

18 Aug 2010 10:48am

@Christine: I can't tell exactly how long they live, Christine, but I estimate about a month or so since flying period is in two seperate generations: from end of april till half of june and from beginning of july till half of september.
Thanks again for your visit and comment !

marc battault from clermont ferrand, France

le machaon est mon papillon preferé ,je lui trouve beaucoup de grace et des couleurs admirable ,de plus c'est un papillon tres difficile a shooter du fait qu'il se pose rarement longtemps ,comme le flambé auquel il ressemble !!

belle capture !
amitiés ,johan !

18 Aug 2010 12:04pm

@marc battault: It is indeed a wonderful species and one of the biggest in Europe. You are very right they almost never pose a long time and most of the time they are moving the wings (I explained that in my comments on the images). Thank again for your visit and comment, Marc.

Dutçh from Chicagoland, United States

I almost thought there was another behind or a mirror effect going on here with the way the wings are spread like that. Very nice angle.

19 Aug 2010 12:33am

@Dutçh: These images are taken on a slope with an inclination of about 45°. Difficult to move around but easy to get a good angle from below on the butterfly and plenty of space behind the plant to get a blurred background. I'm glad you like the pose :-)

Demo from Villeneuve d, France

Fantastic capture! the light is perfect!
I love this shot!
Nice work

19 Aug 2010 4:41am

@Demo: Thanks very much, Laure and Stéphane. It is early morning light with the sun just comming behind the clouds and still not at full power.

Don Levesque from New Brunswick, Canada

Focus is soft and colours are vibrant. Great capture!

19 Aug 2010 4:42am

@Don Levesque: Thanks again for passing by and leaving a comment. I'm glad you like my work.

Julie Brown from Indianapolis, United States

Nice backlighting. I have observed the fluttering behavior often in the swallowtails.

20 Aug 2010 10:06am

@Julie Brown: It is very typical. It's hard to make good and sharp images that way ... You must have had the same problem I guess. Have a nice weekend, Julie.

Joke from Leuven, Belgium

Schitterend, het licht dat door de vlinder komt en zo'n mooie. Toch niet in Belgie gevonden.

20 Aug 2010 3:50pm

@Joke: Toch wel in België hoor... De naam van de gemeente waar ik de foto maakte en de datum waarop ik dat deed, staan trouwens altijd vermeld bij de foto. De Koninginnenpage is een van onze grootste Belgische vlinders. Hopelijk kom je hem eens ergens tegen - ze zijn bijzonder sierlijk om te zien vliegen.

Véro from Savoie, France

rare angle , you did it well !

21 Aug 2010 6:40am

@Véro: Thank you again for your comment, Véro.

Mascha from Kootstertille, Netherlands

Prachtig met het licht door de vleugels!!

21 Aug 2010 12:57pm

@Mascha: Dank je, Mascha.

Marilla from Turku, Finland

Perfect! Great composition.

23 Aug 2010 3:38pm

@Marilla: Thanks :-)

Canon EOS 400D
1/200 second
ISO 200
150 mm