Color in the Garden

Today’s post features a couple of colorful plants that are busy blooming right now in the butterfly garden.

I have a lot of Zinnias growing and most all of the butterfly species visiting the garden love to seek nectar from them. The zinnia is an annual, but they re-seed quite easily II usually try to cut the seed heads before they fall, so I can control where they grow):

Zinnia in bloom

Another nice bloomer is the low-growing Dwarf Plumbago. This plant is a perennial and spreads via both seeds and by underground spreading. I use this plant as a border plant and it attracts a lot of butterflies and the clearwing hummingbird moth:

Dwarf Plumbago blooming

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 camera body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Handheld
  • ISO 800 (zinnia) and ISO 25 (plumbago)
  • Aperture f/8 (both)
  • Shutter 1/180 sec. (zinnia) and 1/250 (plumbago)
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Birth of a Monarch

Today’s post features a link to a 2-minute video I made a few days ago, as a Monarch butterfly was “born”, emerging from it’s chrysalis, in my indoor Monarch nursery. This video was captured in real time. To view this amazing process, click on this YouTube link:

Coming up … I’m now beginning work on making a couple of time-lapse videos, one of a Monarch egg as it hatches a Monarch caterpillar, and another one with a Monarch caterpillar as it transforms into a chrysalis.

All photos and videos were captured using a Canon 5DMK3 DSLR camera.

Posted in: Butterfly Photography, Insect Photography, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Video | Tags: ,
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Monarch Migration at Peak

Today’s post features a few images I’ve captured in the church butterfly garden (Lake of the Ozarks, MO) over the past few days. The Monarch migration certainly seemed to be suppressed this year, supporting many accounts I have read about their numbers being down.

Here are a few images.

An adult Monarch seeking nectar from a butterfly bush:

Monarch butterfly seeks nectar from a butterfly bush

A Monarch chrysalis found in the butterfly garden:

Monarch chrysalis, attached to a Tropical Milkweed plant

A Monarch caterpillar eating a milkweed leaf:

Monarch caterpillar eating a milkweed leaf

A curious Monarch caterpillar checking out another, on the same milkweed plant:

A Monarch caterpillar checking out another cat

As of this writing, I have released 2 adult Monarchs back into the butterfly garden, and still have 5 Monarch chrysalises and 3 Monarch caterpillars that I am rearing in my spare bedroom. I’ve had great experiences capturing both photos and videos of these beautiful guys/gals as they transform into the chrysalis, and as they eclose out of the chrysalis into an adult Monarch butterfly. It will take some time, but I will be featuring a few videos, photo sequences and time-lapse photos of these processes, once I can get them done.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 camera body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens, with 36mm of Extension Tubes
  • Handheld
  • ISO 200 and ISO 500
  • Aperture f/3.5, f/4, and f/8
  • Shutter 1/250 sec. to 1/8000 sec.
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Skippers

Today’s post features a common visitor to the butterfly garden… one of the smaller, skipper butterflies. These images were captured while one of the skippers was busy seeking nectar from one of the swamp milkweed flowers in the garden:

Skipper butterfly on Milkweed

Skipper butterfly on Milkweed

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 camera body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/3.5
  • Shutter 1/4000 sec.
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Recent Visitors

Today’s post features a common visitor to the butterfly garden … the Clearwing Hummingbird Moth.

As I tend the church butterfly garden, these small, interesting critters are often seen flying and hovering about the blooms:

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Coming up… more butterfly garden images.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 camera body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 800 and ISO 1600
  • Aperture f/3.5 and f/8
  • Shutter 1/250 sec. to 1/3000 sec.
Posted in: Flower, Insect Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags:
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Coming Out Party

Today’s post features a few images I captured late last week in my indoor photo studio. Knowing the Monarch migration would soon be underway, I set up some mesh, butterfly houses and a tripod with camera, all in my spare bedroom. When I began finding Monarch eggs last week, I collected what I could find and took them home to let them hatch in a non-predatory environment.

Last Thursday afternoon, the first egg hatched! I had everything in place and was able to capture the hatch sequence. I’m working on putting together a time-lapse video of the process, but it will take some time. Here are a select few of the images I captured of the hatch.

In this first photo, when the caterpillar is about ready to hatch (note the black head of the caterpillar, at the top of the egg):

Monarch butterfly egg on milkweed leaf

As hatching begins, the “cat” begins chewing a hole in the egg shell:

Monarch caterpillar chewing through egg shell

In this next image, the cat has his head outside the egg and he surveys his new environment, before exiting:

Monarch caterpillar chewing through egg shell

And then he begins exiting the egg casing:

Monarch caterpillar begins his exit from the egg

Almost out:

Monarch caterpillar begins his exit from the egg

Getting those last legs out!

Monarch caterpillar begins his exit from the egg

Once fully out, the Monarch cat eats his first meal … the empty, protein-rich egg casing:

Monarch caterpillar feasting on the egg casing

Quite a miraculous process! Since this was captured last week, I have also captured the second egg hatching, but not yet able to download the many images. I’m hoping even some better images! If so, they’ll likely show up here very soon!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 camera body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens + 68mm of Extension Tubes (36mm + 20mm + 12mm)
  • Bogen 3021 Tripod, with ballhead
  • ISO 3200
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/40 sec.
Posted in: Butterfly Photography, Insect Photography, Macro Photography, Nature Photography | Tags:
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