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Milbert's Tortoiseshell --  Chris Carvalho/Lensjoy.com

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With artfully scalloped wings and striking bands of deep orange and ocher with blue flecks, Milbert's Tortoiseshell puts on a showy display in high mountain meadows.  It took several years of searching to get a high quality photo I'm proud of.  This species is shy as butterflies go and often flies off just as the photographer is getting in position for a shot.  Here it's feeding on an aster flower, a favorite for nectar.  With shy butterflies, it can help to follow one individual and cautiously approach it several times.  Often it will get used to the photographer's presence once it realizes there's no danger.  But approach too closely just once and it may panic, flying off for good.  

The underside of all tortoiseshell species isn't much to look at.  It's mottled brown and closely resembles tree bark, helping it blend in perfectly to escape predators.  These butterflies can live for over a year and the adults will hibernate over winter.  Staying camouflaged during hibernation is paramount for survival since when cold the butterfly can't fly.  They will typically select a dark, sheltered crack or crevice in rocks or trees for their winter sleep, close their wings, and hide those lovely colors until the first warm spring day.  

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Info:  Chromira digital print of 36MP digital capture, Fuji Crystal Archive CD paper
 

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