This is a gorgeous snake from Belize, which was happily perched on a tree branch hanging over a river taking a nap. By far the most sizeable snake I have ever seen in the wild, I was so excited to be taking its photo. I was quite close to the snake, trying to get a good angle through the leaves, and even though I didn’t know what kind of snake I was dealing with, I knew that if it remained happily coiled, I was going to survive the encounter. After a few photographs, the snake was clearly aware of my presence and started darting its tongue in and out to get a sense of what I was. I persisted with my photographs, and to my relief the snake stayed happily relaxed and allowed me to get my photo. After showing this photo to a snake expert, I was told it is a boa constrictor, a serial asphyxiator, a snake who chokes for a living! I was photographing a snake that belongs to the family of largest snakes in the world, made up of anacondas, pythons and boa constrictors. What an incredible thrill!
Looking at this photograph I started to wonder – What is the difference between a butterfly and a moth? Simple, right? Not so much. For every rule, there are always exceptions and this is no different. However, here are some of the (exceptions aside) differences between moths and butterflies.
Butterflies are generally a day creature (diurnal) while moths prefer the night (nocturnal). Due to this distinction, moths are usually colored grey, black and brown, while butterflies generally show off brilliantly colored wings. Butterflies have slender bodies and long, thin antennae with a club-shaped end, while moths are stout and furry and have feather-like antennae. Butterflies rest with their wings up (like the butterfly in this image), whereas moths rest with wings down. During metamorphosis, moths make a silk cocoon, whereas butterflies make a smooth and hard chrysalis.
Although these are the general rules, this particular butterfly is not so brightly colored, and for the most part sat with wings down against this tree (see image below). I think these traits ensure successful camouflage with the bark of this tree, and therefore a greater likelihood this butterfly evades predation. This reminded me of the classic evolutionary tale of the peppered moths (for more info follow this link).