One of the signs of Spring may be the sight of a cabbage white butterfly, fluttering across the garden. A gardener may not be pleased by the sight, as the butterfly may well have laid eggs in the cabbages or other brassica, from which emerge leaf eating caterpillars.
The hobby of collecting butterflies, called Lepidoptery, has become a thing of the past, for a number of reasons.
For a start, due to changes in the environment, there are far fewer butterflies around than in the nineteen sixties and seventies, when the pastime flourished.
I have quite a wild garden with patches of nettles and some brambles, which are good for wildlife, and if people could be encouraged to keep an area of the garden, that is not too tidy, that would help greatly with Conservation.
In addition, technology has facilitated the storage of images of butterflies, so that there is no need to capture and kill them, to mount a display. Collections of butterflies are now mostly found in museums, preserved as natural history exhibits.
In 2017, a meteorologist in Colorado saw a 70-mile-wide cloud of Painted Lady butterflies in the course of migration. Butterflies are capable of flying thousands of miles.
A butterfly caterpillar does not spin a cocoon like a moth caterpillar, but forms a chrysalis. It hangs upside down from a leaf or branch and sheds the outer layer of its skin, to reveal the chrysalis. This hardens and inside this receptacle, the caterpillar body metamorphosises into a butterfly.
The average adult butterfly lives for about a month, the longest life span being a year. To save energy many butterflies do not poo! They can see the colours, red, green and yellow and also see in ultra violet light. The wings are clear, colours and patterns are made by reflections on tiny scales.
Butterflies taste with their feet and the males drink from mud puddles, to extract minerals not found in flowers.
A group of butterflies is sometimes called a flutter. This description of the movement has found its way into the language. People talk about having “butterflies in the stomach”, meaning that the nervous system is stimulated by an emotion. From 1978 – 83 the television sit. com. “Butterflies”, told the story of a woman, married to a butterfly collector, who fell in love with another man, she met on occasions, while walking in a park. Despite the butterflies in her stomach, she decided to stay with her butterfly collector husband. The theme song accompanying the series was called “Love is Like A Butterfly”, made famous by Dolly Parton.