While Rosie the tarantula is fun to visit at the Butterfly Pavilion, the butterflies are of course the real attraction. We happened to get there just when they were about to release some newly hatched butterflies. This fellow (gal?) is an owl butterfly, native to Central and South America.
The moniker comes from the large spot, natch, which is designed to scare off predators. But this guy also has a backup defense: a snake head. See it there, facing right?
Apparently holding the butterfly that way doesn't harm it, but we were warned not to let any butterfly walk on our skin; the oils will muck up the tastebuds in their feet (!).
Here's a happier fellow, noshing on a rotten banana (and getting a taste through his toes, presumably.)
Many butterflies will have dull-colored or camouflaged patterns on the outsides of their wings, but brightly colored interior patterns, which they will flash when threatened as another means to startle predators and chase them away.
Here you can see his long tongue, going to town on the banana.
Yum! Maybe I should make some banana bread today.