Nature & Energy Insights
Butterflies: A Colorful Blessing
Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine. - Jeffrey Glassberg
Do you ever pay attention to the flitting cornucopia of colors all around you? Whether you’re in a city or out in the most rural countryside, somehow our colorful butterfly friends find us. Or at least they find their food sources. I’m simply amazed when I see these delicate little friends gliding across my backyard, often “war torn” with pieces missing from one wing or both, or emerging after the hardest rainfall I’ve ever seen – yet still finding their way to their food.
This past summer up to the last 2 weeks, I've spent a lot of time in Virginia where I rediscovered the breadth of butterfly varieties in my parents’ backyards. And as I paid closer attention with each visit, I realized just how many different species I was encountering. Which got me wondering – do any of us notice how many different colorful species surround us? They represent a variety of life spans (2 weeks to 1 year), sizes (a tiny Skipper to a massive Tiger Swallowtail), and colors; and some migrate, while others die within the season. So as I began reviewing my photos, I started researching to discern precisely which varieties I had photographed.
Butterflies see in ultraviolet (UV).
Perhaps bringing out the paparazzi in me the most: the Hummingbird Hawk Moth. While I’ve only seen one – at night – in my own backyard in California, my mother had two(!) for many weeks throughout the summer. Be aware that you may have these moths in your yard but never even know it - unlike most moths, they come out during the day, they resemble Bumblebees in color, and hummingbirds in action, so my mother never even suspected they were there. They happily glided from plant to plant in her yard, all the while followed by a huge, human stranger. Not to worry – these moths are quite patient with us paparazzi. But they proved quite the challenge to this photographer’s abilities.
Cold winter weather? You can still enjoy butterflies -
Of course, you can see butterflies year-round. I’ve often cheated and flown to Australia – south of the equator – during our cold summer months, delighted to enjoy the gorgeous butterflies there. But if you can’t get south of the equator in the winter months, not to worry – very often, local museums have butterfly exhibits. Below are some of my personal favorites and some resources to find others. Be sure to check the state or country you may be visiting, too, as I find many opportunities to see butterflies all over the world:
I hope you also enjoy my Butterfly collection of products. I’ll be adding more as I continue curating the many butterfly friends I encounter. Please let me know if there's a particular image you like but would prefer on a different product - it's an easy addition to the Zazzle site. And thanks for getting out to enjoy nature and all of her benefits!
Nature's Effect: Butterfly Lessons
I was blessed this week to go from seeing the beautiful butterflies in my own backyard to those on the East Coast. Aside from the butterflies in the backyard of the home where I was staying, New Quarter Park in Williamsburg, Virginia has planted a very large butterfly field – including over 130 milkweed plants upon which Monarchs rely. It was here that I found myself surrounded by butterflies and dragonflies.
What the butterflies taught me this week:
If it’s still spring or summer where you are, you might consider wandering out to see how many butterfly varieties you can find. What do you see? How many patterns can you find on their wings? Don’t forget about the patterns on their bodies. Are their antennae different colors from their bodies and wings? What colors are their eyes? What else might you learn from and about them? If it’s fall or winter where you are, don’t despair! You might use this time to start planning how you could attract these gorgeous and welcome distractions to your surrounds in the spring.
If you want to learn more about which butterflies you're seeing in your own yard or park, you can visit Butterflies and Moths of North America. Happy butterfly dreams ….
One of the things that I love about Bee Eaters is how fast they must be to catch a bee. And to think that they have resistance to their stings is amazing. So, despite how much I appreciate bees and the role that they play in our ecosystem, I typically sit and watch in fascination as the Bee Eaters swiftly grab their prey, faster than the human eye can even process.
Today, I stopped to watch them amidst the off and on rains through the part of the rainforest here in Mission Beach, Queensland. Far North Queensland (FNQ) has a good share of Bee Eaters but you’re not always guaranteed to see them. I didn’t know if I would today, given the weather. But I came upon a couple of them happily hunting right outside of the B&B where I am staying. So I sat in fascination to see if there were any bugs available on such a wet day. I’d watch them come and go with what seemed to be not much luck – beaks empty, and so they’d try again – heads turning this way and that, as if they were seeing something, and any second ready for the kill. After hopes of catching a photo of one mid-flight (man and camera vs. swifter bird), and careening my neck almost straight up to watch, I had just decided to give up and do something a bit less taxing when it happened…. the little Bee Eater who had been so patient with his human stalker, caught a big green butterfly.
I guess I hadn’t thought about the prospect of a butterfly up to this point – much less about how much difficulty the Bee Eater would have in getting it down. And so I just let my camera take in all of the action as I watched in amazement how he tried to flick it (presumably to kill it?), swat it against the wire (for leverage to swallow?), dropped it and went flying to recover it, tried repeatedly to swallow only to watch it come right back up, until finally,.....
...the last little bit of the butterfly finally disappeared.
I then realized, quite amused, that all of the many swallows who had been flying past me for the last hour, had all stopped – and had found a seat on the wire to watch all of the theatrics. Were they hoping he would share? That he would drop his meal and give them a go? Or were they just as entertained as I was to see who would win this long battle for the finish?
I watched to see if the little Bee Eater would now take off. I don’t know if I expected the equivalent of a human after a very heavy meal. Would this be enough to be the final meal of the day? No – no drama, no real reaction, no indication of satiation – it was back to business. And so I watched as he once again turned his head left and right …. right back into the action for the next flying meal of the afternoon.
Pamela, Eyes4Nature's proprietor, enjoying life out in the field among the animals and the peacefulness of nature.