Tropical Leafwing Butterfly 18 inches from My Lens

Tropical Leafwing Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

All these years of waiting and waiting for a shot at Goatweed Leafwing Butterflies were instantly forgotten when we came upon this leafwing. You’re correct, this one is not a Goatweed. It’s a Tropical Leafwing Butterfly.

How did I get so close? Goatweeds have zero tolerance, and the times I’ve seen them, they would not allow my Macro- lens within 10 feet of them. it reminds me of the Two-Tailed Pashas in Israel. They have a 30 feet no-grace zone. Our Tropical Leafwing here is some 18 inches or so from my lens. We’re in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas near the border wall. It was in the low 80’s there that December 2017 morning.

Again, why did it suffer my close approach. See that log it’s standing on? The staff at the NBC ‘paint’ those ‘bait logs’ with a slop of beer and bananas. Butterflies, wasps, hornets and flies are drawn to the fermenting brew that settles in the cuts in the bait log. They are attracted from healthy distances.

Why has it not flown? I’ll give you a moment to think about that.

Answer: It is goodly abuzz from the wicked brew that it has been taking in through its pair of proboscis tubes, and this beautiful butterfly is not 1/2 drunk.

Absent such bait logs, and the chances of shooting a Tropical Leafwing approach zero.