This is a recently emerged female Orange-Barred Sulphur Butterfly. She
is very colorful in her winter form.
I'm holding the stick her
chrysalis is attached to up against the bright sky to get the sun to
shine through her wings so you can see the colors on the upper surface
The technique is similar to how kids hold their hand over a bright
flashlight and try to see if they can see their bones, usually right
about the same time they discover that if you dim the lights in a room,
you can get a cat to leap up the walls and spin in circles on the floor
chasing the illuminated spot as you shine the light around. It's loads
In the photo below, the light is behind the camera, so you just see
the bottom surface of the wing.
Sulphur butterflies always land with their wings closed. That's the
official word anyway. This butterfly broke that rule. Twice.
The first time (photo below) she had help; I bugged her until she
gave up resisting and opened her wings. I was delightedly stunned that
they stayed open for ten very fast photos.
The second time she opened them without any coaxing from me! Scroll
on down to see.
I guess she got tired of my bothering her, and of the camera, because
she flew away. I ran after her.
The wind was too much for her to
handle, and she landed on my car. I saw her fight to hold her position
on the smooth surface against the stiff breeze, but her wings were sails
in the wind pulling her forward. All by herself, she opened her wings. I
got four fast photos before she closed them again.
So, is it true that
a sulphur never opens its wings when it lands? Absolutely not. Here is
the photo to prove it. I have to add that this is the only time I've
seen one do it without me trying to stick my finger between its wings to
coax them open, so I'll agree that doesn't happen very often.
Here she is with her wings closed just after the photo above.
I wish there weren't water restrictions down here! My car might have
been cleaner, and the reflection in the photo would have been a lot
After this photo, I got her back on my finger (that's easy, just
gently stick your finger under their front legs, and they crawl right on
up), and took her back to the porch where she had more shelter from the
wind. I set her on a Spanish
I happened to have in a pot, but she wasn't
interested in nectaring.
She flew away about 15 minutes later.