A peek into our collections, one object at a time

Butterflies Are Free To Fly

April 12, 2021
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Page from Insecta
Insecta, Lepidoptera-Rhopalocera of Biologia Centrali-Americana. Smithsonian Libraries and Archives.

In the GIF above, 13 species of Thecla (genus) butterflies are shown from the work Insecta, Lepidoptera-Rhopalocera of Biologia Centrali-Americana, an encyclopedia of natural history of Central America by Frederick Ducane Godman and Osbert Salvin. This multi-volume work was published between 1879 to 1901. A landmark and still often-cited work, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives has digitized 58 volumes that you can explore at electronic Biologia Centrali-Americana.

The collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History have many more images of butterflies as well as the museum’s insect specimens. It also offers an educational resource about butterflies’ coloring.