Butterflies: quiet and inspirational beauty
What is more beautiful than a butterfly? When one flutters by, people often stop what they're doing to watch. Isn't it amazing how many different colors and patterns there are! There are about 24,000 different species of butterfly, found on every continent except Antarctica.
But as plentiful as butterflies are, only a few species live in any one place. As people spend more and more time indoors, it's possible to go for days without seeing one. So the best place to enjoy butterflies is at a butterfly exhibit. Some zoos have butterfly exhibits, and there are separate butterfly houses in most states. I took the pictures in this article at the Butterfly House in Whitehouse, Ohlo, which is near Toledo.
Butterflies range in size from a mere 1/8 in to an impressive 11 inches. Since many insects can carry 50 times their own body weight, I'm sure we're all glad that we weigh much more than the biggest of butterflies! None of the butterflies in Whitehouse are anywhere near that size. (They're native to New Guinea) I suppose an 1/8 butterfly would be easy to miss even at a butterfly house. I didn't see any that small.
- Of the thousands of butterfly species world wide, something over 750 live in the US and Canada.
- The life cycle of a butterfly begins with an egg, which becomes a caterpillar, which in turn hardens into a chrysalis where it lives as a pupa. From the time the egg is laid until the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis takes 5-10 weeks.
- Unlike most insects, butterflies can see in color, but not the same colors we see. They can see ultraviolet light, which helps them find the nectar tubes in flowers.
- They can't hear, but they do feel vibrations--a very handy talent for getting away from predators.
- Butterflies taste with their feet and smell with their antennae.
- Butterflies are cold blooded, like reptiles and unlike mammals. They can't fly if their body heat drops below 86º. They bask in the sun to keep their temperature up.
- Many butterfly species are territorial. They fight and chase others out of their territory.
- Butterflies may not be as important as bees as pollinators, but some plants seem to depend on them almost totally.
- Bees tend to be home based, but butterflies flit randomly from place to place--an important contribution to the genetic diversity of plants. They can fly thousands of miles.
- You can increase the number of butterflies that come to your yard by planting colorful flowers with an abundance of nectar.
- But if you want butterflies to be born in your yard, you need to choose the kinds of plants they lay their eggs in. Butterflies take nectar from a wide variety of flowers, but are much more choosy about food for their caterpillars.
- Adult butterflies only drink. They don't eat. But to borrow from Groucho Marx, "time flies like an arrow; butterflies like a banana." They can get juice from rotten fruit as easily as from a flower.
- When a small child, I thought that success spelled happiness. I was wrong, happiness is like a butterfly which appears and delights us for one brief moment, but soon flits away. -- Anna Pavlova
- Never touch a butterfly's wing with your finger. -- Sidonie Gabrielle Colette
- The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. -- Rabindranath Tagore
- The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly. -- Richard Bach
- Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. -- Nathaniel Hawthorne
- This magnificent butterfly finds a little heap of dirt and sits still on it; but man will never on his heap of mud keep still. -- Joseph Conrad
- I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man? -- Zhuangzi
- Just as the bird sings or the butterfly soars, because it is his natural characteristic, so the artist works. -- Alma Gluck
- Know thyself. A maxim as pernicious as it is ugly. Whoever studies himself arrest his own development. A caterpillar who seeks to know himself would never become a butterfly. -- Andre Gide
- There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly. -- R. Buckminster Fuller
- It's not that I want to be someone different from me, but I suppose it partly is that. I love creating a character in a fantastical situation, like Dr. Frankenstein, like Leo Bloom, a little caterpillar who blossoms into a butterfly. I love that. -- Gene Wilder
- Just like the butterfly, I too will awaken in my own time. -- Deborah Chaskin
- We are closer to the ants than to butterflies. Very few people can endure much leisure. -- Gerald Brenan
- The fluttering of a butterfly's wings can effect climate changes on the other side of the planet. -- Paul Erlich
- In nature a repulsive caterpillar turns into a lovely butterfly. But with humans it is the other way around: a lovely butterfly turns into a repulsive caterpillar. -- Anton Chekhov
- "How does one become a butterfly?" she asked. "You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar." -- Anonymous
- We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. -- Maya Angelou