These beautiful insects, known variously as Tree Nymphs, Paper Kites, and Rice Paper butterflies, have a very slow and extraordinarily graceful flight. It might appear therefore that they would easily fall victim to avian predators, but like all Danaines Idea are poisonous or highly unpalateable to birds and are not often attacked. The slow flight is their way of advertising the very distinctive pattern, which birds, through past experience, associate with a very unpleasant taste.
In sunny conditions males usually rest with the wings erect or partly open, ready to take flight to intercept potential mates. In cool or cloudy weather they are more relaxed and can sometimes be found feeding at flowers at the side of roads. When feeding they tend to slowly flutter or fan their wings, but when settled on foliage they will bask with wings fully outspread.
Photo taken at The Cockrell Butterfly Center in Houston Museum of Natural Science
March 31st, 2017
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