Butterfly Mud Puddling
I suppose when one thinks of mud puddling, the image that comes forth is that of a small child dressed in yellow galoshes and a shinny raincoat, jumping into a fresh mud puddle and giggling in delight. Sounds great fun to me, but then I always enjoyed mud. Mud pies, mud castles, digging holes and discovering the small worlds of nature. However, mud puddling is something entirely different.
Spending some time out at a quiet riverside I came across some butterflies, grouping together in one spot. They were all the Yellow Sulfur Butterflies. Holding still in their spots, they resembled torn pieces of yellow leaves that were drifted together by the wind.
Moving slowly towards the yellow mass, I wanted to get a closer look. When I was almost on top of them, they all came swirling up around me and flew in circles. I was surrounded by yellow fluttering! The feeling was exhilarating. I felt as though I was dancing with the yellow butterflies.
I stepped away and watched for a bit as they all resettled back into the same muddy spot on the ground. Still, motionless except for their tongues gorging in the mud. This is mud puddling!
Some species of butterflies gather at the mud holes or “mud bars” and drink their fill of the water and minerals lacking from their usual flower nectar feast. The salt in the mud is the most sought after for it helps strengthen their fertility.
Continuing to watch in awe, I was amazed at how many had gathered there. Maybe about twenty or so. Studying up on this event, I learned that there can be a group as big as 200 who gather for their mineral fill. It is mostly the Sulfurs and the Swallowtails who mud puddle, though you may find a few Blue Butterflies mingling at the mud bar.
It was not just the scientific or technical aspects that I was in awe of with these winged creatures, but I was more lured by the wings, their colors and shapes and how they flutter in the air so effortlessly and with grace. They reminded me of Angels from a mystical fairy tale, or little Spirits with stained glass wings.
Because of their lightness in the air, mythically they do represent the spirit world. Most of us go “icky” at bugs and insects, except for when it comes to butterflies. There are butterfly houses all over the country teaching and preserving the uniqueness of these beauties. They are one of very few creatures who experience metamorphoses. There is a physical rebirth in their cycle of life, that lends to the spirituality of their flight.
After filling myself up with this wonderful sight that the Creator has provided, I reluctantly began to gather my things and leave. But before I left that riverside, I once more stepped towards the yellow mass and danced with the yellow butterflies.