Orange Julia

Golden Helicon

I always find it difficult to call beautiful butterflies like these insects.  Somehow the name just doesn’t fit them.  But insects they are.  They are in the order Lepidoptera and according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, there are “more than 155,000 species of butterflies, moths, and skippers.”  Butterflies are familiar to us because they fly during the day and their brightly colored wings are eye catching, and because they aresymbolic of ethereal beauty, freedom, endurance, change, hope, and life.

The Orange Julia (Julia Heliconian or Dryas iulia) lives in tropical woodlands or gardens.  The insect in the picture I believe is a male based on some research I did into this beauty.  The Julia is in the brush-footed family and its subfamily is longwing.   The website Gardens with Wings can provide more information.  The Julias are found primarily in the southernmost parts of Texas and Florida.  The Helicon (also known as a tiger longwing) can be spotted in Mexico to the Peruvian Amazon.  Like the Julia, it’s also a longwing.  Interestingly, both of these butterflies have a longer lifespan – the Golden Helicon can live as long as six months.

Unfortunately, I didn’t travel to any of these exotic spots to photograph these butterflies.  Rather, I shot them at the Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House & Insect World.  The day my friend and I were on the Island, it was a cold, windy, but sunny day.  By the middle of the afternoon, we needed a spot where we could warm up.   What better way to do that than to visit the warm and beautiful butterfly house?  We spent a couple of hours in there warming our bodies and delighting in the beauty of these gorgeous insects.  And, yes, they are insects.  But when I think about it, most of the insects are pretty darned lovely to look at despite the creepy connotation of the word “insect.”