Butterflies Flutter By

by Curt Kovener

I remember a poet calling them “Flying Flowers”. I recalled that one recent afternoon after I had finished mowing.

Butterflies are most active during the heat of the day visiting nearly anything of vegetative color for nectar.

They particularly like flowers with deep petals that contain sweet floral juices that no other insect can reach.

Pausing for a while by an aptly named Butterfly Bush, I studied the butterflies that were visiting. While it was difficult to keep track of them as they constantly moved, I believe I counted 14 yellow swallowtails and black swallowtails along with a few I couldn’t identify.

The yellows, blacks and oranges of the flying insects complimented the white and purple blooms of the Butterfly Bush.

One yellow swallowtail allowed me to view his/her floral activity up close. I gazed in wonderment how the insect could flitter from flower to flower, extend a long proboscis deep into the throat of each flower, drink then move on to the next flower to repeat the process over and over again

Occasionally a couple of butterflies would break away from the floral feeding to appear to fight one another. I don’t know if it was a territorial dispute, cross words were spoken, or if it was some kind of mating ritual that prompted these frail creatures to engage in aerial combat.

But it wasn’t long that apparently a victor was declared, all was forgiven, and they returned to feeding on the flowers where the battle was initiated.

I cannot say for certain but am pretty sure butterflies seek the safe harbor of tree leaves at night. Being cold blooded, the cooler nighttime temperatures cause them to slow down and they rest in the shelter of larger leaves.

Which caused me to think: What then about moths? Those night flying insects that are attracted to light? Are they the second shift workers?

While I mow a lot of ground in the wilderness, there is some that is left to nature to allow wildflowers to bloom for butterfly attractants: black-eyed susans, daisies, orange butterfly weed, milkweed, and an even larger number that I do not know their names but are pleasant to the eye and pleasing to the butterfly palate.

Gazing at colorful flowers and equally colorful flying flowers is a soothing, tranquil way to conclude an otherwise hectic work day.