The fake photo of Morphos by Kelvin Hudson
Is Kelvin Hudson's Morpho picture fake ?
If you like animal photography and butterflies, you've probably already seen Kelvin Hudson's beautiful photo of hundreds of Morpho clustered on a tree trunk and proudly displaying their metallic blue. This photo is very famous and many commentators marvel at the photographer's luck to have been able to immortalize such a scene.
Some non-scientific sites spread the legend created by Kevin Hudson. The site My Modern Met writes: "Photographer Kelvin Hudson came across a magical sight that would typically be reserved for a fairytale. While in the forest, he captured an image of a tree partially cloaked with a cluster of blue morpho butterflies."
It would indeed be a brilliant shot of scientific animal photography... if all this were not a vast deception. This is not a shot of a grouping of Morphos in the wild, it is a montage made from farmed Morphos killed and pinned to the tree to compose this artwork.
Evidence that Kelvin Hudson's Morpho photograph is a montage.
To know if this type of scene can occur in nature, we interviewed several entomologists who have encountered Morpho butterflies several times in the field and who study their natural behaviours.
All the entomologists interviewed confirm that this scene is 100% a montage.
Here are their explanations :
- Male Morphos (as in the photo) do not group together. On the contrary, they fight for their territory and attack each other. It is almost impossible to photograph three male Morphos together in one photo. So a hundred is totally impossible.
- Morphos rest with their wings closed to avoid being seen by predators. The underside of their wings (which can be seen when the butterfly has its wings closed) is dark brown so that the butterfly remains well hidden in the forest. It is impossible to have a natural photo with a hundred Morphos at rest with their wings open. This is a behavior that does not exist in nature.
- The Morphos on the picture have no abdomen. If you look closely at the specimens used in Kelvin Hudson's photo, you will see that they do not have abdomens. Sellers of dead Morphos remove the abdomens from the butterflies because the fat naturally contained in the abdomen can spill onto the wings and stain them. It is difficult to see hundreds of abdomenless Morpho in the nature...
So clearly, this wonderful scene never existed and it is a montage, a work of art.
How did Kelvin Hudson go about composing this butterfly photograph?
Here is what is behind this so-called natural photography.
Kelvin Hudson used a hundred dead Morphos, made them spred in different positions and then pinned or glued them to the tree trunk and branches. It is clearly a titanic work that required a lot of time for a magnificent result.
He also added by computer in post-production 2 flying Morphos on the bottom of the image to make it look like a real natural scene taking place.
Your questions about Kelvin Hudson staged Morpho picture
Did Kelvin Hudson killed some butterflies to make this picture ?
Yes, the Morphos you see were killed just after they hatched to prevent them from damaging their wings before photography. It is Morpho didius, a common species, often used in decoration or in works of art.
Were these butterflies caught in the wild?
No, these Morphos come from butterfly farms that breed Morphos for resale to decorators or artists like Kelvin Hudson. These butterfly farms have no impact on wild Morpho populations. If these Morphos were wild, most of them would have slightly damaged wings.
Did Kelvin Hudson lie about it being a natural scene?
We have not found any record of Kelvin Hudson claiming that this was a natural scene. Nevertheless, when this photograph became popular on the web, all the non-scientific newspapers were telling this story of a fabulous encounter in nature immortalized by Kelvin Hudson... so we can imagine that the photo was sent to the press with false information. If you have any record of an official statement from Kelvin Hudson on this photograph, please send it to us so we can complete this article.
We hope that this article has taught you some things about the behavior of Morphos, which are splendid butterflies, wonders of nature. At least, Kelvin Hudson's photography will have introduced many people to these magnificent butterflies.
This is an example of a resting Morpho butterfly, as you can see :
- they close their wings to avoid being seen by predators,
- they have damaged wings (due to predator attacks and battles between males).