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Attracting and Photographing Butterflies

Butterflies and moths both come from the lepidoptera (scaled wings) family. There are over 750 species of butterflies documented in the U.S. and Canada and over 11,000 species of moths. These fascinating creatures have brief lives (from 3 days to 3 weeks), so I liken capturing their unique and intricate beauty on film, especially with the backdrop of flowers, to preserving fleeting precious flickers of God's boundless creativity for others to enjoy. I continue to marvel at their detailed perfection.

Butterfly 1

Moth 1

I have found that butterfly houses, formal gardens, hiking trails dotted with wildflowers and even my own garden usually offer many opportunities to photograph butterflies (and sometimes moths) in beautiful settings. I describe how you can attract butterflies to your yard and I provide brief descriptions of locations that have worked well for me to create photos I love.

Since these insects move so rapidly and it's hard to think about the background and settings constantly, multiple photos of the same butterfly and frequent observation of the results will greatly increase your chances of getting a sharp shot with a pleasing composition. I often take 3 to 8 pictures of one butterfly on the same flower when I have the opportunity and only one - or maybe none - comes out a winner. Certain species are cooperative and seem to love posing for the camera, giving you their profile, front view, etc., while others will flit endlessly, leading you on a tiresome chase. I will pursue all species that are new to me for at least a few minutes.

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