On that dark and cloudy evening, I spotted this Psyche (Leptosia nina) butterfly resting in my garden. These psyche butterflies are pretty restless during day light hours. They nectar for a very short duration on each flower, thus hardly giving any time to capture them extremely close. Once it gets dark, these butterflies roost on leaves or flowerheads very close to the ground. That is one of the best time to capture them leisurely even though I had to lay flat on the ground to capture them. I was using Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens with Kenko extension tube. Canon MT-24EX macro twin light flash was illuminating the butterfly. With that setup I could go almost 2:1 magnification as you can see in this first picture which is un-cropped capture, just 5 inches from the butterfly.
Extension Tubes are an amazingly flexible solution to extra magnification. They will be less expensive than purchasing a dedicated macro lens. They provide a flexible and upgradable increase in magnification with virtually any camera lens — even existing macro lenses. They don’t place additional glass elements between your subject and your camera, thereby minimizing any potential loss in image quality. They provides consistent, predictable quality regardless of extension tube brand.
Extension Tube are great with wider lenses, and provide only a minimal magnification gain with telephoto lenses. They also cause your lens to lose the ability to focus on distant objects. With Extension Tube Your lens has to focus more closely than it was designed. High magnification images will therefore usually have lower quality than with a dedicated macro lens. Learn more about macro capture in my blog Macro Photography Tips and Which Macro Lens?
The Psyche (Leptosia nina) is also known by the delightful name Wandering Snowflake – a term which describes this common and pretty species very well. In Africa, other members of the genus are known by the equally descriptive names Flip-Flop and Wood White.
In Roman mythology, Psyche was a beautiful girl who was visited each night in the dark by Cupid, who told her she must not try to see him. When she did try, while he was asleep, she accidentally dropped oil from her lamp on him, and he awoke and fled. After she had performed many harsh tasks set by Cupid’s mother Venus, Jupiter made her immortal, and she and Cupid were married. Her name Psyche is Greek for both “soul” and “butterfly.”
There are 8 species in the genus Leptosia, of which 7 are restricted to forested areas of Africa and Leptosia nina is the only species found outside Africa. It is found in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, south China, Taiwan, the Philippines, West Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo, Java and Timor.
This is a butterfly of open but sheltered grassy places, including clearings in primary and secondary forest, plantations, roadsides, parks, gardens, quarries, railways and waste land. It is found at elevations from sea level to at least 1500 metres in the Himalayan foothills.
Although they are only distantly related, the flight and general behaviour of the Psyche is strongly reminiscent of that of the European Leptidea Wood Whites (subfamily Dismorphiinae ). The flight is feeble and erratic, bobbing up and down as they slowly and persistently flutter over the grasses, rarely ascending above knee level. Individuals spend over 10 minutes flying in this manner, without ever pausing to settle.
The butterflies are active mainly in early morning and again at dusk, preferring to fly when light levels and temperatures are quite low. They also tend to be more prevalent in humid conditions, and will fly in light rain on overcast days.
Both sexes commonly visit Vernonia and Asystasia flowers for nectar, and on dull days can often be found at roost on the flower heads. Males are sometimes seen imbibing dissolved minerals from mud or from bird droppings.
The eggs are spindle-shaped, ribbed, pale green in colour, and laid singly on young terminal leaves of the food plants.
The caterpillar is green, glaucous and covered in short setae. It feeds on various members of the Capparidaceae, primarily Capparis, Cleome, Crateva and Polanisia.
The chrysalis is shaped like that of Eurema and Gonepteryx. It has a buff or pale brown thorax and abdomen, and pinkish wing cases. It is suspended from the underside of a leaf, attached by the cremaster and secured with a thin silken girdle.
1 thought on “Psyche Butterfly”
I am completely captivated by your exquisite photographs of this delicate and beautiful creature. I have been looking for a suitable image of a butterfly to incorporate into my first ever web page, (getting modern in my senior years) and cannot imagine finding anything better. I didn’t know the name of the psyche butterfly until now and I wonder if I might negotiate permission to use one of your images? I would of course credit the photograph to you.
Coincidentally my youngest daughter is called Nina.