Big time of year for butterfly center

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September is Blue Morpho Butterfly Month at Callaway Gardens’ Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center.  Typically there are more than 1,000 tropical butterflies of various kinds flying freely throughout the conservatory; however, this month it will be filled exclusively with spectacular Blue Morpho butterflies.
 
“During September, visitors to the Day Butterfly Center will witness the largest display of Blue Morphos on the planet at that moment,” said Michael Buckman, manager of the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center. “This is our seventh year filling the Center with Blue Morphos.  I’ve been told by suppliers that we are receiving all that they have of these beautiful butterflies. When I heard that, I knew we were doing something very special.”
 
The Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides) is a spectacular iridescent blue butterfly native to the rainforests of South and Central America.  The undersides of the wings are brown with eyespots, but the contrasting upper sides could be considered the most brilliant, vivid blue that nature has to offer.  This iridescent color actually results from microscopic scales on the back of their wings reflecting light, giving the brilliant shimmering blue appearance.  As a Blue Morpho flies, its contrasting wing colors of brilliant blue and dull brown fool the eye and make the Morpho look as if it is appearing and disappearing.  The word ‘morpho’ actually means “to change or modify.”
 
This tropical butterfly is usually a forest dweller but will occasionally venture into sunny areas.  They are diurnal, or active during the day, and they spend much of their time in flight because they can be territorial.  When courting, they often fly in long chains of five or more making a spectacular sight.
 
As one of the largest butterflies, with a wingspan of five to eight inches, the Blue Morpho is a wonderful subject for photos and video.  They feed on the juices of rotting fruit making them easy to locate at the fruit feeders in the Day Butterfly Center.  Butterflies are most active between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.  For best results taking photos, consider visiting when the butterflies are resting, before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m.
 
For more information, visit www.callawaygardens.com.  Callaway Gardens is in Pine Mountain, 60 minutes southwest of Atlanta and 30 minutes north of Columbus.