I was fortunate to spot this beauty in my yard as I was returning from a chore outside. I whipped out my camera in a flash and managed to shoot twice. The first shot was in the Av mode, and I could see that the result was blurred. That wasn’t surprising as the butterfly was constantly aflutter, no sooner settling down than taking off again. I switched to the TV mode and a shutter speed of 1000, which froze the butterfly as you can see above. That was my last chance as the butterfly wandered in ever-widening circles and then flew over the wall. For all of twenty seconds, the Common Mime was mine.
The Common Mime mimics the inedible butterflies the Blue Tiger and the Glassy Tiger. A clever trick, right? But hold on, there’s more. The Common Mime begins its exhibition of mimicry right from the cradle: its pupa resembles a twig so closely that it’s impossible to tell the two apart. It’s supposed to be one of the most remarkable examples of camouflage in the natural world.
Here’s the story. Don’t miss the photo of the pupa toward the end.
One word of warning: I’m not completely certain that the butterfly I shot is the Common Mime. The other candidate is the female of the Common Wanderer, another expert mimic. The two butterflies resemble each other closely, though the Common Mime is bigger. The Common Mime also has light brown spots on the margins of its hind wings, one of which I think I can spot (if you’ll pardon the atrocious pun) in the photo. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve got it wrong.
Knowledgeable reader, I’m all ears.
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