Butterfly lovers unite at Callaway Gardens to celebrate Blue Morpho Butterfly Month

PINE MOUNTAIN, GA (WTVM) - September is Blue Morpho Butterfly Month at Callaway Gardens' Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center.

Typically there are a variety of more than 1,000 tropical butterflies flying freely throughout the conservatory; this year will be all spectacular Blue Morpho butterflies.

"If the trend continues, visitors to the Day Butterfly Center will witness the largest display of Blue Morphos on the planet during September," said Michael Buckman, manager of the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center. "This is our fourth year filling the Center with Blue Morphos.  Several times I've been told that we had wiped out all of the world's suppliers of Blue Morphos.  I knew then we were doing something very special."

The Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides) is a spectacular iridescent blue butterfly native to the rainforests of South and Central America.  The undersides of the wings are brown with eyespots but the contrasting upper sides could be considered the most brilliant, vivid blue that nature has to offer.  This iridescent color actually results from microscopic scales on the back of their wings reflecting light, giving the brilliant shimmering blue appearance.

As a Blue Morpho flies, its contrasting wing colors of brilliant blue and dull brown fool the eye and make the Morpho look as if it is appearing and disappearing.  The word 'morpho' actually means "to change or modify."

This tropical butterfly is usually a forest dweller but will venture into sunny areas occasionally.  They are diurnal, or active during the day, and they can be territorial so they spend much of their time in flight.  When courting, they often fly in long chains of five or more to make a spectacular sight.

As one of the largest butterflies, with a wingspan of five to eight inches, the Blue Morpho makes a beautiful subject for photos and video, and because they feed on the juices of rotting fruit, they are usually easy to locate at the fruit feeders in the Day Butterfly Center.

The best time to photograph butterflies at the Center is on sunny days before noon or after 3 p.m. as they are least active at these times.

General admission is $18 per adult (ages 13-64); $15 per senior (65+); $9 per child (ages 6-12); and free for children 5 and younger (admission prices include tax).  Annual Passholders, with their pass, and military, with active and retired identification, can enter the Gardens with up to five guests in the same vehicle for free per day.  This price includes access to Callaway Gardens and its many attractions and activities.

Special Event admission will apply September 1-2, 2012, for the 14th annual Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival.  The Day Butterfly Center is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Take a break and enjoy the Day Butterfly Center and the many other attractions of Callaway Gardens.  Ask for the special Blue Morpho Overnight Package, available September 3-30, 2012, which includes lodging, breakfast, a special gift from the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, use of the Mountain Creek Inn Fitness Center and admission to Callaway Gardens and its many attractions for each day of stay and day of departure.

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