Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Butterflies of Late Summer

Full disclosure: My knowledge of butterflies is limited. I know, or think I know, the following:

They are brightly colored (except when they are darkly colored) flying insects.

They float. Bees sting. Source: "Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee" -- Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali.

There are many kinds of butterflies. One source says there are 17,500 species; another says 20,000. I don't expect ever to take a butterfly census.

You can see maybe more than a hundred species at the Butterfly House, Brookgreen Gardens, a magical preserve of nature and art near Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. You have to take great care not to step on them or harm them in any way.

Butterflies are all about metamorphosis, and so are a natural for writers in search of metaphors.

They are found on every continent except Antarctica. Many migrate short distances, but the Monarchs and a few other species somehow, someway migrate thousands of miles. ("Defenders of Wildlife," http://www.defenders.org)

Other insects love Lantana too

The last few weeks, they have been flitting from bloom to bloom on my burgeoning Lantana, as though they are famished. (One ruby-throated hummingbird and some bumblebees also are partaking.) That nectar must taste mighty sweet. It is the main food source for the butterfly. I need to get more Lantana established in my yard. The butter beauties also like our butterfly bushes but not as much as the Lantana.

I tried to take some video showing a dozen or more of them floating from one blossom to another, but they were too fast for me. So I am posting a couple of stills and will try again on the video. As a photographer, I am a work in need of much more progress, But it is fun to get outside and make the effort.

Next time I am at Brookgreen Gardens (which I hope is soon), I will buy a good book on butterflies, and share more knowledge from experts.

                                         © Robert G. Holland



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