Butterflies and Plants

Outside of the exhibit Butterflies and Plants at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, visitors found 5-feet wide monarch butterflies I illustrated. The project also included two animations for the exhibit’s website, developed in collaboration with Redmon Group Inc. – one portraying the Palamedes Swallowtail (Papilio palamedes), the other about the relationship between the hawk moth Xanthopan morganii and the orchid Angraecum sesquipedale.

X. morganii is usually referred to as Charles Darwin’s predicted moth. When studying a species of orchid found in Madagascar, A. sesquipedale, whose flowers display one-foot long nectary spurs, the naturalist concluded there needed to be a pollinator moth with a tongue long enough to reach the nectar at the end of the spur. Such insect had never been described but its existence was confirmed 40 years later. The behavior of this hawk moth continues to be poorly known given its nocturnal living and exclusive presence in Madagascar, but the story of its description became a classic example of coevolution between animals and plants.

An illustration of this same subject was commissioned to be at exhibition Darwin’s Evolution at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon and it was on display at the Member Exhibition of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators at the Acadian Archives, Fort Kent, ME.

Media: digital
Client: Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History – Butterflies and Plants: partners in evolution