Insectual Insights and The Butterfly Effect

by Curt Kovener

I have noted a great deal of butterfly mortality of late. From tiny yellow Cloud butterflies to the larger Yellow Swallowtails and Monarchs, they have met their demise.
And it is not some disease or over spraying of insecticides or herbicides. These flying flowers just fail to get out of the way of motorized traffic.
Whether on an interstate or county road, butterflies seem to be taking on semi-trucks and economy cars. And losing.
Maybe it is the time of year, maybe it is the high temperatures, maybe I just haven’t been paying close attention in previous years, but more butterflies are colliding with my vehicle.
The little yellow Cloud butterflies are prolific in soybean fields, and like a child who dashes across the street without looking, the butterflies no longer flutter by. Some hit the windshield or grill, some succumb to the wind turbulence as my vehicle passes.
The larger butterflies are sometimes met with a glancing blow knocking it skyward and I find myself looking in the rearview mirror hoping I don’t see the pitiful pollinating insect fall lifeless from the sky. Then mutter a swear word when I do.
Maybe it is the mating season for butterflies and they have other things on their mind rather than looking both ways before crossing the road.
Maybe it is the heat and humidity which, like many humans, has addled their thinking and common sense causing them to fly nonchalant into the path of a fast moving metallic land missile.
Or maybe they are just tired of fluttering about for a few sweet sips of nectar before moving on, tired of looking late season ratty and faded and maybe they have opted to end it all in a butterfly ballet which they bring the final curtain down with their suicide with me behind the wheel of my mini SUV.
I do feel remorseful, and have started tooting my horn at the insects much like I do when dogs, squirrels or deer venture onto the road near my path. Though other pedestrians or residents think it strange and wonder what I am doing. But they are friendly and wave back at my “toot-toot” greeting they think was intended for them.
Sort of like having to endure some rain to see a colorful rainbow; we must endure caterpillars devouring a bunch of the vegetation in the garden before pupating into their new colors. But I suppose that is a small price to pay for the delicate flittering spectrum of colors that grace the flowering plants. I just wish they be more careful crossing the road so I could enjoy their beauty for a little while longer.
Now those woolly worms crossing the road also turn into a flying insect. But I don’t feel so bad when I run over those fuzzy caterpillars. Even if they are trying to warn me of the coming cold winter weather.