Sunday 26 August 2012

Dew Covered Butterflies

On a Saturday morning in July I decided to have an early start at a local nature reserve having been encouraged by the forecast of cool temperatures and no breeze. I arrived on-site by around 5:30 AM and found the pools and reedbeds to be covered with a heavy, damp mist. At first I thought there was actually too much mist and was fearing foggy images lacking in contrast, but within only a few minutes the sun was starting to burn through. I quickly found a number of insects, all of which were completely covered in tiny water droplets.  This not only made them very attractive but also meant they were very cool and hence were happy to pose for me.


Here are a couple of images of a Small Skipper butterfly. The first was photographed with the sun behind me;

The second was photographed into the sun and hence backlit;

Finally, a Ringlet butterfly;

It's worth pointing out that sometimes you have to treat the presence of water droplets on an insect with a degree of scepticism as some photographers will on occasion spray droplets onto their subjects to give them a dew-covered look. I've even heard some photographers query whether you ever actually find naturally dew-covered insects. I hope these images illustrate that in the right conditions you can find insects naturally covered in fine water droplets.

Over the next week or two I will post some images of other insects that were even more heavily dew laden, including damselflies and a dragonfly. [EDIT: here are those images]

As an aside, I decided to repeat the exercise only a few days later and returned to the same site at a similar time but found that there was no dew at all. I'm no meteorologist but I assume the overnight temperatures were too high, combined with a slight breeze. My heart sank as I was greeted by the sight of Emerald Damselflies on the wing at 5:30 in the morning, something I have never seen before, signalling that my early start had been in vain.

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