August 07, 2006

8-6 Pin-up bugs: Butterfly Sex

Black and orange butterfly sex, top, Costa Rica, 8-6-06. – natashaSo, I took these pictures yesterday and I was a little torn for a bit about whether or not I should put them on the web. They’re a little racy, after all. Then I showed them to one of the other biogeeks here who participated in the data collection for a study of sexual behavior in fireflies last year. She said something to the effect of, ‘Are they back to back? Woohoo.’ And then I thought, ‘Oh yeah, I’m definitely posting these.’

And here you have it. Butterfly sex. Like they do on the Discovery Channel.

If there’s a branch of science more inherently by turns salacious, amusing and visually delightful than biology, I can’t think of it. Granted, the deep space telescopes produce inspiring pictures, but I’ll bet you that the typical attention span can suffer more bug pictures than starfields.

For a postscript to these photos, I should note that when they seemed to have had enough of the flashing gray box intruding on their personal time, the black butterfly flew off to another grass stalk while still towing the other one. The brown butterfly kept its wings closed & remained motionless throughout, letting itself be carried through the air upside down. It was an impressive thing to watch, but not something I could catch on camera for you. Sorry.

Black and orange butterfly sex, side, Costa Rica, 8-6-06. – natashaAnother thing I couldn’t get a picture of yesterday was the Blue Morpho I saw, the second one I’ve seen here. When they’re moving by, it seems at first as if it’s a small bird crossing your line of sight. They cut quite a large field of view profile, seeming heavier and more solid than you’d think they have any right to when they’re mounted lifelessly in a display case. I also think that I saw a Monarch butterfly the other day, though I suppose it could have been some other type of large, black and orange butterfly. Last week, there was a wine-bodied dragonfly with lacy, black wings; goth heaven. Didn’t settle anywhere long enough to be photographed.

Black and orange butterfly sex, full top, Costa Rica, 8-6-06. – natashaAfter a while, the scenery here, lush as it is, starts to look normal. I have a feeling that Washington is going to look unbearably bleak by contrast, the overall color of the vegetation there is shifted far more towards the gray and yellow. It’ll probably take at least a week to adjust to it and have that start looking normal again. Landscape photos can be nice, but as another of the students’ photos of a trip to the Osa peninsula illustrated to me the other day, all a picture generally captures is a big field of green. When you’re there, it’s pervasively luminous. When you’re looking at the photos it’s all, ‘Oh how nice, more green.’ Hence, the insects.

I’ve also been gathering some close-up botanical photos, there are gorgeous flowers everywhere here (shameless plant sex!), but my plan is to try to identify more of them before putting them up. I’ll keep you posted.

Posted by natasha at August 7, 2006 10:17 AM | Costa Rica | Technorati links |

If my life depended on working wings I'd probably favor a back-to-back encounter, too.

Anthropomorphically, it's considerate sex.

Am looking forward to seeing the flower file you mention.


Posted by: Jared Scarborough at August 12, 2006 04:52 AM