Friday, July 29, 2016

One of nature's hidden surprises

I discovered a new insect I have to share with you guys! I was tempted to call it the Halloween butterfly, like I did with the Halloween caterpillar years back. But I'm wondering now if the Rhinoceros butterfly is a better name for it.

Take a look at this pic and you'll see what I mean! When the butterfly closes its wings, it looks just like a rhino's head.

See, there's the horn, the ear, the eye, and even some teeth!

But look at how beautiful this butterfly is when it opens its wings!

Now you see why I was thinking of calling it the Halloween butterfly.

After photographing this butterfly, I hurried inside to see if I could find out what its real name is. It looks like it might be a "dead leaf butterfly". Dead leaf butterflies look like dried up leaves when their wings are closed. My google results showed all kinds of different dead leaf butterflies, and all are beautiful when they open their wings. It's hard to believe all the colors on the inside of the wings after seeing them closed.

Isn't that electric blue on the edges cool?

Blending in with dead leaves makes great camouflage and I have a feeling that "eye" I saw was no accident either. Often in nature, we see critters with an eye pattern so they can scare off predators.

The butterfly was hanging around where I'd been watering plants and I think that's what attracted it. I've noticed with the really hot weather we've been having, that bees and wasps are hanging around the bird bath getting a drink. I never thought about insects drinking water, but I guess why wouldn't they?

So, have you guys seen these butterflies around? I have to wonder how many "dead leaves" I've passed by on plants that were actually alive! Like that time I was carrying a potted plant and noticed one of the leaves on it had legs! (Turned out that was a katydid)

I'm going to end with a video that is absolutely mind blowing. This is a Top 10 list of the best camouflaged animals and insects, and as you'll see, the dead leaf butterfly made the list.

Top 10 Truly Amazing Animal Camouflages: 

There are variations in how the dead leaf butterflies look and that might have something to do with the type of trees and shape of leaves that are in an area. Each of the creatures in this video has adapted exactly to its environment, so I wouldn't be surprised if there are different dead leaf butterflies to go with different leaves around the world. Nature is so detailed and complex and it surprises me constantly!

*Update! Lorelei just told me that this is an Angel Wing butterfly. She also pointed out that it is a "question mark" Angel Wing, because of what I saw as an "eye" on the wing. Other people have seen it as a question mark with that curved line and the dot. Turns out there is also a comma wing, with a mark that looks like a comma instead of a question mark. Thanks Lorelei!

*One more update! Old Fashion Halloween kindly pointed out in the comments below that we can make a little watering station for butterflies, bees, etc. with a dish, small stones, and some water. If you missed the article she shared, it's here:

Help the bees with this DIY water garden

The stones are there so the bees have something to stand on while getting a drink. You fill the dish so the stones are only half emerged in water, I assume because you don't want to drown any bees. I filled a lid with rocks and water today and put it out where the bees and butterflies like to go.

I just had to refill it with water this evening. So, either the water dried up in the day's heat or there were some thirsty bugs!

Another update (a few weeks later). I saw several hornets enjoying the drinking dish. As it happened, I read today that hornets aren't all bad since they eat the larvae of some bugs that would eat the garden. So, they're as welcome to the water as the rest of the insects. There was a grasshopper hanging out nearby too, I think waiting for me to move away so he could get a drink.


  1. Replies
    1. Yeah! This one did have some pretty colors and markings. I'm always happy to see butterflies around.

  2. Lovely. Another how did I not know about this moment? How wonderful to discover something so enchanting in your own yard!

    A shallow tray with rocks and water works great for giving bees and butterflies somewhere to drink.

    I try to have a water source in the pumpkin patch to encourage bees to pollinate.

  3. Old Fashion Halloween ~ Oh, I know! I'm at the point where I'm just expecting to be surprised by new insects. The past several years, it's been constant. I don't know if it's that I'm paying extra attention now or if the insects are changing where they live based on changes in the weather. Maybe a little of both. Anyway, it was a neat moment! I didn't notice the rhino similarities until I looked at the photo I took.

    Thanks for the tip on the insect beverage station. :) I saved that article and will give that a try. The weather has been so incredibly hot lately, they could use a little something. And it would be a nice thank you to them considering how much pollinating they're doing for me!

  4. Hey, Justine, your butterfly is an "Angel Wing" and this particular one is called a "Question Mark" because of that odd silver marking on the underside of the wing. So, you could get even more creative with a name for it. As a naturalist, I'm constantly finding new things in my world. Good find!

  5. Lorelei ~ Wow! Thanks! How on earth did you know this? I'm guessing you've seen these butterflies where you are? So what I was seeing as an eye, other people have seen as a question mark! I was just looking at some pics of the "comma" butterfly vs. the "question mark" butterfly. That's interesting that people are seeing different punctuation marks on these. I can't believe I've been given a specific name for these butterflies! Very cool.

  6. Very interesting. I looks like a leaf.

    1. Julie ~ Yeah! I have to wonder how many times I've passed these by without realizing it.

  7. WOW!!! First of all, that butterfly is so neat!!! I wonder if I can see them down south? And I love the idea of the bug water dish. That is so cool :)

    1. Heidi ~

      I agree! What a surprise for it to open its wings and reveal all that color! And its outside rhino/leaf appearance is something cool in itself. I checked on the "comma leaf" butterfly and it would appear they exist worldwide. So you have the chance of seeing one!

      The bug water dish turned out to be something nice for all sorts of different insects. I felt like I was doing my part to help nature. :) And so many of those bugs were helping me by pollinating the plants!