Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Common mestra butterfly

with 32 comments

Common Mestra Butterfly 1652

When I was at the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County on November 18th I saw this butterfly. Later I figured out from a butterfly guide that it was Mestra amomyne, called the common mestra, even though it wasn’t common to me—but that’s hardly surprising, given that I don’t know much about butterflies. I suspect they know even less about me.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 22, 2013 at 6:01 AM

32 Responses

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  1. Oh! Interesting, it looks mothy to me. I’m not good at identification though, maybe a yet, I haven’t decided.


    December 22, 2013 at 7:01 AM

    • I like your word mothy, but this mestra looks butterfly-y to me. Maybe someday I’ll know the local butterflies better, but there’s only so much one person can master.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 22, 2013 at 8:42 AM

  2. I clicked on this image Steve and my immediate reactions was, “This guy has a tremendous sense of color balance and composition.” As if both of us didn’t know that already. I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know but this one simply takes-the-cake. Just the right focal point, just the right blur, and … oh that color balance. Love it. Exquisite. [I almost said, ‘Quite exquisite,’ but I do not believe that there are degrees of exquisite. Like use of the word ‘unique.’ It just drives me up the wall when folks say, “Yeah, he’s kinda unique.” One is either unique or not … period.] D

    Pairodox Farm

    December 22, 2013 at 7:02 AM

    • Thanks for your appreciation, D; I think I need to hire you as my publicist. There wasn’t much light in the place where I took this picture, so, keeping the ISO at 400, I had to settle for a fairly wide aperture of f/6.3, which meant not a lot of depth of field. With that limitation, I focused on the center line of the butterfly and had to let the farther parts go out of focus. It wasn’t a bad choice, and the resulting picture, with its overall brown tonality, strikes me as Rembrandtesque.

      I’m with you in using unique as an absolute that means ‘one of a kind,’ but I know that holding the definition there has long been a lost cause. For many modern English speakers the meaning of unique, like that of incredible and unbelievable, has already been eroded to something no more exceptional than ‘good.’

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 22, 2013 at 9:01 AM

  3. Butterflies have the best “blues”. I just spun the color wheel to see if I could find the right name for this shade, but I haven’t. It’s beautiful, nonetheless – and I’m glad I’ve learned the antennae as a way to distinguish between butterflies and moths. This one’s so unique – at least, I don’t remember seeing it before, even if it is called common.


    December 22, 2013 at 7:23 AM

    • I could almost read your first line as “Butterflies have the blues,” which offers a different take on reality. Without knowing which is which, I’ve noticed that plenty of the butterfly species in central Texas include some form of blue that provides a pleasant complement to the other (and usually dominant) colors on them.

      I thought the common mestra might have been named to distinguish it from a less-common species, but when I looked online I found a statement that Amomyne is a monotypic genus, meaning that there’s only one species. I did find references to varieties of the species, however. If any butterfly expert reads this and would like to clarify, please do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 22, 2013 at 9:26 AM

  4. So pretty, looks as though it has been sprinkled with icing sugar, like a Christmas mince pie 🙂


    December 22, 2013 at 7:50 AM

  5. I think it knows it has an M in its name. The wings have markings that look vaguely like M.

    Jim in IA

    December 22, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    • Good of you to perceive the M on each wing. I think this butterfly thinks you’re a maestro of the mestra.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 22, 2013 at 10:37 AM

  6. Beautiful. It does look as if it might have received a dusting of snow.

    Marvin Smith

    December 22, 2013 at 11:06 AM

  7. Surprenant ce papillon belle découverte pour moi.
    Je te souhaite un très Joyeux Noël pour toi et ta famille et de bonnes fêtes de fin d’année


    December 22, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    • Et une découverte pour moi aussi, même que j’habite ici depuis 37 ans.

      Joyeux Noël, Chantal, et de bonnes fêtes de fin d’année.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 22, 2013 at 2:00 PM

  8. Maybe they’re wanting you to get to know them better.


    December 22, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    • If that’s the case, I wish more of them would stay in place so I could get to know them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 22, 2013 at 9:37 PM

      • It takes a little practice and patience. Some species tolerate humans more than others. They can be soooo interesting.


        December 23, 2013 at 10:05 AM

        • There certainly are difference among species. When I began concentrating on native flora and fauna in 1999, I noticed that olive hairstreak butterflies were often quite willing to stay put even when I got very close, but the various sulphur butterflies were quite skittish. If we try often enough, we have some successes.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 23, 2013 at 11:15 AM

  9. Nice shot of this lovely butterfly, Steve. The background color is a perfect complement.

    Steve Gingold

    December 22, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    • I don’t know if I was aware of it at the time I took the picture, but that’s how I now too feel about the background, which came from various drying plants and grasses.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 22, 2013 at 9:39 PM

  10. I like the top detail. I accidentally came across butterflies discovering the Calotropis procera huge milkweed shrub (more like a tree). I discovered their larva there, so I ventured to see if I could get some shots. Fortunately, I was able to cover the whole metamorphosis using both macro and a 100-400mm lens. The 400mm range was useful for butterflies that were up high in the tree.

    Maria F.

    December 22, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    • Since you were so fortunate, I expect we’ll see photographs of those butterfly stages on your blog in the not-too-distant future. I’d never heard of Calotropis procera, but I looked it up and found that the ancient historian Josephus described it and said it grew in Sodom.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 22, 2013 at 9:50 PM

  11. She is a beauty!


    December 24, 2013 at 12:44 PM

  12. Terrific photo! What a beauty!


    December 24, 2013 at 8:42 PM

  13. Unless the butterfly is dreaming about being a man. And you specifically.

    Mufidah Kassalias

    December 29, 2013 at 7:02 AM

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