The photos below were taken during a visit to the Butterfly Rainforest, a year-round exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History (Gainesville, FL). The best time to photograph the butterflies is in the morning, when the natural lighting is soft and the butterflies are warming up for daytime flight. Once the sun is directly overhead, the lighting becomes harsh and the butterflies fly too quickly for pictures.
The stars of the day were the Tree Nymphs (Idea leuconoe). They were active and everywhere.
As you exit the rainforest, you’ll see unending specimen cases stacked to the ceiling.
You’ll also see rows of butterfly pupae displayed behind glass. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. Although they emerge from their casings quickly, butterflies take up to two hours to inflate and dry their wings sufficiently to fly. It takes another two hours for the wings to dry completely.