Butterflies With Outsized Wings?

Tawny Hackberry butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Tawny Hackberry butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Jim Gilreath today posted an exceptional image of a Giant swallowtail butterfly. It was shot in the Butterfly & Blooms Briar Patch in Eatonton, Georgia. The same Briar Patch Habitat that I have visited several times this year. You can see Jim’s photo on the Butterfly & Blooms in the Briar Patch Facebook page. A stunner it is.

Certain to catch your eye is the apparent oversize of the Giant’s wings. They look well, too big for the butterfly, too big to control, to coordinate, too big for successful flight.

That brought me to remember this image, of a Tawny Emperor butterfly, I happened onto in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, my home. As I was both marveling at its stately beauty, and shooting away, this angle, that angle, this shutter speed, bracketing that shutter speed . . . I was thinking, Holy Cow! those wings look way too big for this butterfly to fly with. After it tolerated dozens of exposures early, early that morning, it answered my query, when it zoooomed away, in a straight, high speed trajectory, Gone!

I think Jim’s Giant swallowtail does have outsized wings, and I think this Tawny emperor’s wings are also oversize. How, with Big, Big wings, do they fly so well, so fast, so directed, so gracefully? Is their extraordinary flight meant as a gift to us, to tease and tantalize our senses?

Oh and this print, dark room processed by Gerry Hare, and archivally matted and framed, hangs in our dining room, for all to see, for me to enjoy, daily. Another original print, that too printed by this master, Mr. Hare, hangs in a home in Georgia. Both mats include cut-outs, with a scholar’s original calligraphy in Hebrew, roughly translated, ‘How Great Are Your [G-d’s] Works.’