05 September 2005

The Emperor and I

Butterflies must like me. A week ago I attracted one with my hat. Last Saturday while hiking along the C&O Canal down by the Potomac river, this beautiful Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis) developed a more intimate interest in me. First it landed on my shorts, then on my shirt and finally on my left hand. Luckily, I hold the camera in my right hand and was able to take a series of close-ups of it (I am ambidextrous; I write with my left hand, but do many other things with my right hand).

As you see in the above photo, the butterfly had its proboscis uncurled and was constantly probing with it around the tip of my finger and along my nail. Obviously, there was something there that it was after. Sweat, maybe? Today, I remembered that before I had left home about an hour earlier, I had sprayed cologne on my shirt (I always operate the spray bottle with my left hand). Perhaps, the sensitive receptors on the butterfly's proboscis could detect the few molecules of perfume that were still on my skin.


T. Beth said...

That is an amazing picture! I've had butterflies land on me a few times, but none has ever tried to feed on me!

tony g said...

Hi Aydin,

Just caught your post on my Emperors.

Empress Antonia is our south texas race of the Hackberry Emperor. Check the sci name i used. Some folks consider it specifically distinct, but the consensus for now is that it is clinal.


Anonymous said...

Emperors are fearless. One landed on my hand today and took salt from my skin. It stayed with me for quite awhile, even as I walked around.