Butterfly Alphabet

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Close-up of wing of the citrus swallowtail, Papilio demodocus, with the letter 'C' drawn in scales.
Photograph by Muhammad Mahdi Karim

The Butterfly Alphabet is a photographic artwork by the Norwegian naturalist Kjell Bloch Sandved.[1]

Sandved worked at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and came up with the idea with Barbara Bedette, a paleontologist, of finding all 26 letters of the Latin alphabet and the Arabic numerals 0 to 9 in the patterns on the wings of butterflies.

Sandved's photographic excursions led him to Brazil, Congo, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. Searching for the forms took him over 24 years,[2] but he finished the collection in 1975 and published it in the Smithsonian Magazine. It was republished by Scholastic as a book in 1996, with accompanying snippets about butterfly species.[3]


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