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Up Close & Personal with the Most Beautiful Butterflies

Butterflies have large, often brightly colored wings, and a conspicuous, fluttering flight. Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visual and literary arts, signifying beauty, freedom and the the coming of spring.

You’ll find these beautiful specimen in the canopies of the Central American forests. The Morpho butterflies are easy to spot thanks to their massive, bright, iridescent blue colored wings. The real beauty, though, is when the blue Morpho flies: the contrasting bright blue and dull brown colors flash, making it look like it is appearing and disappearing.

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Found in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and parts of South Asia, the Banded Peacock is known as quite the fast flyer. Its name comes from the pattern of black and green wing bands, reminiscent of a peacock.

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Every year in September, the orange and black Monarchs begin their migration to Mexico for the winter. The journey can be as long as 2,800 miles. Sadly, climate change is making winters in Mexico colder and wetter, and summer breeding grounds are becoming hotter and drier and combined with the common use of herbicide in America has all but eliminated the Monarch’s primary food source -  the milkweed plant.

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Found in China and Vietnam, the Golden Kaiser-i-Hind is considered an endangered species, and is quite threatened by the wildlife trade, despite being protected by Chinese law. 

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The Purple Emperor sports iridescent wings that shine blue or purple in the light and used to be quite common in the British Isles. The Emperor’s diet is different to other butterflies - it eats the honeydew secreted by aphids, and occasionally on dung and carrion.

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These unique butterflies are native to Costa Rica, but have also been spotted in rainforests in Belize. The Sapho Longwing is one of the few species of butterflies that breed on one specific plant. If the plant is gone, the Longwing will surely follow.

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The Common Buckeye is found in southern Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia and all parts of the United States except the northwest. It is especially common in the south, the California coast, and throughout Central America and Colombia. Its habitat is open areas with low vegetation and some bare ground.

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The Bhutan Glory is a member of the Swallowtail family, sporting a 5 inch wingspan. The wings have beautiful, large red patterns on its rear. The Glory is so rare, it was thought to be extinctions, only to be “rediscovered” in 2011 in several locations in Bhutan.

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The Ceylon Rose is an extremely rare swallowtail butterfly found only in Sri Lanka. Sadly, these magnificent butterflies are critically endangered as a result of sever destruction of their habitat through deforestation.

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The Chimaera Birdwing’s diet mainly consists of the nectar of hibiscus plants and African tulip trees in the rainforest of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. It got the name “Chimaera” due to its body’s unique shape, making it look as if it’s made of 3 amalgamated insects.

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The Glasswing butterfly is quite large and got its name thanks to its magical transparent wing panels. Native to Columbia, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, these butterflies can spend hours feeding on a single flower bloom.

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The Island Marble is known to inhabit only two small islands (San Juan and Lopez) in northwest Washington State, though it used to be native to Canada. These days, the Island Marble is one of the most endangered insects in the world because of habitat loss and an extremely small, isolated populations.

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Native to the island of Jamaica, the Jamaican Swallowtail is the largest butterfly species in the Americas. Sadly, its size and beauty make it prized among collectors. Adults grow to be about 6 inches across, and are dark in color with yellow and blue bands and spots. The Swallowtail prefers to dwell in habitats that are remote and undisturbed.

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The Luzon Peacock was discovered in 1965, in the Philippines. The Peacock is mostly black, with fore and hind wings (which span 4 inches) splashed with the bright colored scales that earned it its name.

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The Mitchell's Satyr is a rare butterfly with a wingspan of up to 1.75 inches (4cm) and is distinguished by rows of orange-ringed, black circular eyespots on each of its chocolate-colored wings. Sadly, urban and agricultural development has destroyed its natural habitat. Combined with contamination from pesticides, fertilizers and nutrient runoff, invasive species and even butterfly collectors, the population numbers alarmingly shrunk.

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It is quite obvious how the Banded Orange Tiger got its name. From Brazil through Central America to central Mexico, and is essential to the eco system as a primary pollinator.

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The Palos Verdes Blue is the rarest butterfly in the world. Presumed extinct until 1994, when researchers discovered a population in San Pedro, California. A breeding program was initiated and seems to be successful, but there are still only several hundred in the wild.

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The little Question Mark Butterfly hangs out in any area that has lots of trees and space. The name comes from "The silver mark on the underside of the hindwing is broken into two parts, a curved line and a dot, creating a ?-shaped mark..."

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One of Australia’s largest butterflies, the Richmond Birdwing is experiencing a severe decline in numbers in recent years, thanks to habitat destruction, drought, and invasive species of vine, which causes 100 percent mortality rate among the Richmond Birdwing's larva.

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Found almost exclusively in the dark shady forests of Singapore's nature reserves, The Saturn Butterfly’s drab and cryptic undersides help camouflage it among the forest leaf litter while they forage for food.

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The Schaus' Swallowtail (or Island Swallowtail) is found in southern Florida with subspecies in the Bahamas, Hispaniola, and Cuba. It is named in honour of William Schaus.

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The Spicebush Swallowtail prefers marshes, bogs, swamps and agricultural areas for its prime habitats. Sadly, such places are often subjected to development or suffer from an intensive use of herbicides and pesticides.

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The Wallace's Golden Birdwing is named after British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who discovered the species in 1859. They live in the lowland areas of the Maluku Islands in Indonesia. Sadly, the area is suffering from increase in logging, resulting in widespread destruction of its habitat.

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If you want to take part in preserving such wonderful creatures from extinction, please visit http://butterflyrecovery.org/ and learn how you can help.

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