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Written by: Bill Herren
Butterflying is a popular hobby that involves observing butterflies in their natural habitats. Sitting at your window and watching butterflies flit happily from flower to flower can be a relaxing and enjoyable activity. Butterflies expend energy as they fly, so they need to feed on the nectar from flowers. If you create a place in your yard that will attract butterflies, you may be pleasantly surprised by the different butterfly species that will visit you.
Some hobbies require special equipment. Extensive equipment is not needed to observe butterflies. However, a journal and a good pair of binoculars will help ensure that you see and record the beautiful insects you observe. Some people also use special nets so they can carefully capture a butterfly for closer viewing. After taking a close look at the intricate colors and designs of the insect, you can set it free to fly away.
With a good pair of binoculars, you can bring butterflies close to you from a distance. Binoculars must be able to magnify and focus on the intricacies of butterfly wings. It’s also helpful for the binoculars to gather light with their lenses to enable you to see minute details in low-light conditions. Increased magnification may reduce clarity and field of view, so you might prefer binoculars that do not have extensive magnification powers.
Etiquette and Ethics
Humane treatment of animals and insects is a priority for many people. It’s possible to observe butterflies without harming them if you remember simple etiquette and ethical conduct. Instead of capturing and collecting butterfly specimens, observe them in nature, take photographs of them, draw sketches, and release them without harm. Consider the impact of butterfly houses, too, to determine whether you wish to support these types of establishments.
Location and Habitat
Butterflies are attracted to environments with group plantings of bright flowers. Butterflies tend to prefer plants that are natural to an environment. When creating a butterfly habitat, choose a sunny area that is sheltered from the wind. Provide butterflies with a source of water and areas for landing and resting in the sun. Avoid using chemicals and pesticides in a butterfly habitat. Butterflies will remain active throughout the day to visit a habitat.
After learning the basics of butterfly anatomy, you can begin trying to identify the species you see. Field guides are available with descriptions and photos of butterflies, useful for identifying different insects. Take photos of butterflies you see to enable you to identify them later. Many butterfly observers keep a journal of butterflies seen and the dates to record their butterflying activities.
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