Urania leilus; Callicore cynosura – topside/underside display
26x19x6cm frame (black)
Urania leilis us a day-flying moth from South America, very similar to Urania riphaeus which is found half the world away in Madagascar - an interesting divergence given how many of Madagascar's species are endemic to the island. I love the long tails on this moth, such a copy of a swallowtail.
I always wondered whether the name 'urania' had anything to do with diving, or soaking up liquids (see Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey/Maturin series, where Stephen Maturin describes himself as 'an urinator' when he wants to embarrass Jack - but he only means that he's a diver). In fact Urania is the Greek muse of astronomy, so no connection there. But it was an amusing flight of fancy.
The two jewel-like butterflies beneath are Callicore cynosura, shown in upper- and under-wing displays. These butterflies are found in wet tropical rainforest areas of Venezuela, Guyana, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and the upper Amazonian region of Brazil. They are usually encountered as solitary males and have a rapid and powerful flight over short distances. They visit river beaches to imbibe dissolved minerals. On hot sunny days they land on the arms, legs and backs of humans to gather the minerals in the sweat.
These specimens have been prepared in the UK to museum standards and are displayed in a deep handmade shadowbox frame, mounted on white conservation-grade foam. The back of the frame is covered in really special Italian decorative paper, with a brass hook for hanging it on the wall (but it also stands perfectly on a mantlepiece or a table). They are completely sealed inside the frame and will last for generations.