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Swallowtail butterfly

Daniel Saftner, Macroscopic Solutions

Download this image from Wellcome Collection.

The head of a swallowtail butterfly. Butterflies have two round compound eyes, which they use to see quick movements. From between the eyes extend two antennae, which are used as sensors, for example detecting smell and sniffing out a mate. They also have a long feeding tube (proboscis), which is curled up like a spring here, but it unrolls so the butterfly can use it like a straw to drink nectar from flowers.

Swallowtail butterflies are widely distributed around the world and are often found in wetlands such as marshes and fens. They get their name from their characteristic hindwing extensions, which are reminiscent of a swallow’s tail.

The image is 5 mm wide.

Imaging technique: photomacrography

Close-up photography of small objects using a camera with specialist lenses, together with a method for stitching together multiple images. Multiple photographs of the object are taken at different focus distances and then combined or stitched together. This produces a final image with greater sharpness throughout and with more details preserved.

Location where image was created

Tolland, Connecticut, USA

Why did the judges choose this image?

“The image uses a shallow depth of field to good effect, making the butterfly seem almost intimidating as it lurches off the screen towards us. The detail and the sharpness of the image is so clear that it almost doesn’t seem real; it seems to have come from another world.”

James Cutmore, Picture Editor of BBC Focus

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