Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the June 2, 2007 Newsletter issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve Headquarters in Jalpan, Querétaro, MÉXICO


Probably this last week's prettiest moment occurred at a muddy edge of the reservoir. Though the reservoir's shoreline extends for miles there was something about the mud at this particular spot that the butterflies really liked, for nowhere else did I see them gathering in such large numbers. Surely more than a hundred of several species were all crowded together there, nearly all fluttering their upward-held wings. I'm guessing that the wing fluttering helped them keep their balance, for a breeze blew off the water and sometimes vagrant gusts almost tipped the butterflies into the sticky mud.

Very, very slowly I scooted on my butt to get close enough to the gathering to take close-ups. (One can speak of a "rabble" or a "swarm" of butterflies, but neither of those seems appropriate; I thought of it as a "megafluttering.") However, despite my care, once I was close enough to make pictures most of them scattered and didn't return.

Still, a few remained, and I did get a couple of pictures. You can see Giant Swallowtails, PAPILIO CRESPHONTES, their heads pointed into the wind, above.