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Little Green Hairstreak  Chris Carvalho/Lensjoy.com



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This small butterfly, about five-eighths of an inch in height, was photographed at The Dalles Mountain Ranch in Washington alongside the Columbia River.  Green is a rare color in butterflies and this one flaunts that fact with aplomb. It took me two years to get this picture, as the peak season for the butterflies lasts only about two weeks.  Little Green Hairstreaks (Callophrys sheridanii) frequent a particular species of desert parsley (Lomatium) that grows at a narrow range of altitude in this area.  The inside of the wings is a much less spectacular dull brown.  The color combination makes these butterflies incredibly difficult to spot and to follow once they start flying; adding to the challenge is that their motions are very quick and somewhat erratic.  Up close, the microscopic scales on the wings are visible in the print and they glitter in brilliant blues and greens.  The butterfly is feeding on nectar and the tiny coiled tongue that they use to suck from flowers (called a proboscis) is clearly visible.  

This photo has a lot of meaning for me as it recalls pleasant childhood memories of the many summers our family spent camping in Yosemite National Park.  I found these butterflies on trails in the park and was fascinated by their unusual color.  It was one of my first recollections of finding a new butterfly that didn't exist in my home town.  To this day, when I see them I think of the great times we had there.  I'm indebted to my parents for taking me to the mountains and setting me on the course to capture that excitement in pictures.  

Because the desert parsley is only a couple of inches tall, I had to lie on the ground to get this shot.  In the foreground a tiny white flower is visible, scarcely bigger than the butterfly's eye.  Butterflies are very sensitive to vibration in the ground; something as innocent as a footstep can scare them off.  I was quite lucky to get only a few inches from this one and take the shot at the closest focusing range of the lens, just a few inches.  Even with good equipment a lot of persistence is needed to get a photo where the entire butterfly is in crisp focus.  That's due to slight vibrations of the camera and the reduced depth of field at close ranges.  Even though the butterfly's wings appear motionless, in many species they quiver slightly requiring a fast shutter speed to stop their motion.  

If you are interested in attracting more butterflies to your garden, click here for information on plants to grow.  

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Info:  Chromira digital print of Provia 100F 35mm slide, Fuji Crystal Archive CD paper

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