by Taetske | 2:57 pm
(Last Updated On: February 7, 2019)

 

A Gift from Mother Nature, the Butterfly

 

Amazing variety of butterflies

Amazing variety of Butterflies

Do not do this!

There seems to be a crazy new trend. At a wedding, one releases butterflies who, understandably, will not survive the party. Butterflies are tender insects and one really should not touch them and much less release them on a crowded wedding. I am amazed at what people can come up with and feel rather disgusted at this idea. When walking in nature to see butterflies in their natural habitat, is there anything prettier?

Moths

Sleeping Moths, Private Photo

 

Butterfly decline in the UK

David Attenborough, president of Butterfly Conservation, said that these past years were not favorable for the butterflies in the UK. The weather was too cold and their natural habitats are in danger. This year the weather has been more benign so for certain species like the meadow brown and the red admiral it was favorable.

In the last 40 years, there has been a decline of nearly three-quarters of the UK butterflies. In towns and cities, it has been more rapid. No wonder with the pollution in the air.

 

Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis of a Butterfly

Fossils of Butterflies

Butterflies are very old insects. There are fossils of butterflies which date back to the Paleocene which is a period some 56 million years back. To become a beautiful butterfly, this insect has to come a long way and go through 4 different stages. The adult butterfly will put eggs on the leaves of a plant so that when the larvae come out have their food source right in front of them. These baby caterpillars then grow, sometimes really fast, and when grown up they pupate in a chrysalis.

After a certain time the metamorphosis is completed and the outside skin breaks open. The butterfly will come out and after spreading its wings so they can dry, it flies off and a new cycle begins. Butterflies have enemies in nature. There might be parasites, wasps, flies and ants and perhaps a frog, toad, chameleon who catch a butterfly for dinner. Some butterflies can also be a pest and when in their larvae state can attack crops or trees.

 

Caterpillar

Caterpillar of the Monarch
Butterfly

An unusual happening on my farm

It has happened many years ago while living on my Spanish farm in the south of Spain. One sunny early afternoon I noticed some big caterpillars on the south side of the house. In front of the house, I have a 1000 square meter plot with my orange trees. The more I looked the more I saw. After an hour it looked like a wave which came over the field, crossed the small wall, came down on the cobblestones and then started to creep up on the front wall of the house. It was very unusual and even a bit frightening.

I closed the front door and looked through the window. Everything I looked at was literally black with caterpillars. Some hours later they had disappeared. This phenomenon has never repeated itself. I have a nice vegetable garden where I try to grow cauliflower, different types of cabbage and broccoli.

Often the cabbage white butterfly comes and puts her eggs on the back of the leaves. One has to control it every day otherwise suddenly you will find big pieces missing and that will impede vegetable development. Of course, I have a “green” farm so it is a battle with nature, no pesticides but still trying to get a harvest.

 

Organic grown green cabbage

Homegrown Green Cabbage Private Photo

The long voyage of the Monarch Butterfly

There are a butterfly species which is more than amazing. The Monarch butterfly migrates 2000 miles from Canada to Mexico. The butterflies normally start in September and October. From southern Canada and various places in the United States, they migrate to regions in central Mexico where they arrive in November. This journey is repeated instinctively by generations even as monarch numbers are diminishing rapidly.  Their decline is due to their only food source, the milkweed plant, disappearing.

 

 

They start the trip back in March but no individual butterfly can complete the entire round trip. Female monarch lay eggs for the next generation during the northward migration, at least 4 generations are involved to complete this annual cycle. One had always wondered how this small and fragile insect was able to complete this feat which up till now could not be explained.

Professor Steven Reppert, a neurobiologist at the University of Massachusetts has been studying the brain of the Monarch butterfly. He states: the biology of the awe-inspiring fall migration of the monarch butterfly does scream out to be understood.

 

Butterfly

Private Photo, butterfly park, Spain

 

Previously it was believed that these insects use the position of the sun to find which way they have to travel. Now biologists have found that they have a pair of molecules in their brains that are sensitive to Earth’s magnetic field similar to a compass.

 

Gorgeous Butterfly Park in Florida

In 1999 I visited the US for the first time. I spent 3 weeks in Florida where I went to see the famous Butterfly park in Fort Lauderdale. It was founded by a Dutchman.

The park is spread out over 10 acres and is very impressive. On entering one is requested to not touch the animals under no circumstances, it is allowed to take photos. You enter a big room, lovely classical music in the background and you see big butterflies flying around freely. Some are as big as 2 hands. Afterward, comes a nursery where you can see the pupae hanging and even some recently dried butterflies, ready to take off.

The metamorphosis is really amazing, seeing such a beautiful insect appear from its tight confinement. One continues walking and one is in for another surprise. A high room with a climatized and humid environment, again lovely music and masses of tiny Colibri flying around. A lovely sight I must say. Outside there was an English rose-garden, a souvenir shop, museum, and restaurant.

 

Butterfly Parkiin Spain

Private Photo of Butterfly Park, Spain

Butterfly Park in the south of Spain

Some days ago I made a trip to a butterfly park here on the Costa del Sol in Benalmadena. This was set up by Spanish people from Madrid, the concept was different but also very interesting. I made a lot of photos of which some are used to illustrate this post. I entered a very big and high room with quite high humidity. The ceiling was mainly glass to get the sunlight in, like that the butterflies are more active.

There were butterflies from 4 continents, everything was well explained in Spanish and English, and at any given time some 1500 butterflies were living there. Their lifespan is not long, only from 2 to 3 weeks. There were also huge Moths, sitting all nicely together on a long stick. They were sleeping and only get active when night falls.

 

Buddhist Temple

Buddhist Temple

 

This visit was absolutely lovely. There is a nice souvenir shop and of course a small bar. Going outside we visited the Buddhist Temple to then enjoy the lovely view down on the coast towards Fuengirola. This was a lovely morning which I really enjoyed.

 

View of Fuengirola

View of Fuengirola

 

How to attract butterflies to your garden

If you now start wondering how you can attract butterflies to your garden it is not difficult. One should plant certain bushes and you will see how many butterflies will come to visit.

 

Butterfly Park

Private Photo Butterfly Park, Spain

 

Alyssum, Bee balm, Cosmos, Delphinium, Lupine, Milkweed, Musk mallow, Grasses, Butterfly bush, Calendula, Fennel, Globe thistle, Hollyhock, Lavender, Oregano, Sage, QueenAnne’s lace, Marigold and the list goes on.

Another very important thing you will have to do is to make your garden totally organic, no pesticides are allowed in a butterfly garden.

 

Butterfly Park

Private Photo Butterfly Park, Spain

 


 

Source: Wikipedia and My Life

Photos Pixabay and Private

 

Perhaps you are interested to read the following post.

The Worrying Decline of the Insects.

 

 

Comments

Patsy

Hello Taetske,
I love nature and butterflies. I grew up in a secluded area with my four sisters, we owned a lot of property where we experienced nature at it’s best. There were so many different types of butterflies, it was beautiful. Even at a young age I appreciated them.

I love your private photos, it looks wonderful at all the locations.
I was surprised and saddened when I read how butterflies are released at weddings, it’s a shame using these beauties that way. Also, how the polution in the UK caused the loss of so many of them. If this keeps up they will end up being a distant memory.

I had learned about the metamorphosis in school when I was younger, and it brings back nice memories to read about it again. All the stages so delicate to form a perfectly unique butterfly. It’s amazing. Then on the other hand to read how scary it was for the mass of black caterpillars to arrive that way. We get this same occurance every specific number of years, I don’t recall how many now. They would arrive, eat the leaves off of the trees leaving them bare, form cocoons then become moths to invade the area as they did arriving as caterpillars. Then the cycle repeats itself. I live in Canada and we have a lot of Monarch butterflies everywhere. We have a Butterfly Pavillion not far from where I live at a beautiful place called Science North.

I really enjoyed reading your article, it’s been a while since I read an interesting one. Bringing back so many memories. I will return to read more, as I find this a very informative website.

Thank you,

Patsy

Oct 24.2017 | 12:32 am

    Taetske

    Good Morning Patsy,

    Thank you for reading my Butterfly post. Yes, I also love nature there are always so many interesting things to see. It is colorful, normally smells nice and it is peaceful, ideal for recharging batteries. Modern life is often so hectic, lots of stress and noises. To go and sit under a big tree and be quiet for some time can do wonders.

    You tell me you also have these waves of caterpillars coming over the field and eating everything they can. Here it happened only once. It is quite a sight to see a whole field turn black and undulating, very unusual.

    I love all insects, or I should say nearly all. Observing a baby praying manta of just 1 cm is really something. To see the dancing dragonflies above the fishponds is beautiful. Even now, it is October, one can still observe them in the garden. Butterflies are such a beautiful creation and it saddens me that every year I see less of them. I live in a green farm and my neighbour who surrounds me on 3 sides with his avocado plantations has also gone green years ago. No more pesticides on these properties. This, of course, attracts birds, insects, and other small animals but when I moved here in 1981 there was more life in general.

    I have also written 2 posts on bees and their importance to our world. Without them, the human race cannot survive as bees form one of the most important links in the upkeeping of nature.

    I wish people would realize how important nature is. We are causing huge imbalances on our Planet and by doing this put our life and the life of future generations at risk.

    I am happy you enjoyed your visit and I hope to see you again.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 24.2017 | 06:28 am

      Patsy

      Hi Taetske,
      It sounds beautiful where you live so healthy and free of pesticides. It’s hard to imagine having avocado plantations so close! We have the huge problems here with Bees dying off at alarming rates. Full Bee farms are wiped out from pesticides it’s terrible. This will affect us in so many ways.
      Thanks again, I will return I enjoy what I have read so far.
      Patsy

      Oct 26.2017 | 02:21 am

        Taetske

        Good afternoon Patsy,

        My friends always say I live in paradise. I think they are right but it has cost me more than 30 years of my life and hard physical work to make it so nice. What is happening to the bees worldwide is alarming, I wonder why humans can be so stupid to put their own life at risk. Thank you for your visit.

        Regards, Taetske

        Oct 26.2017 | 02:03 pm

          Patsy

          I agree! we can only do as much as possible to fix any damage caused.
          You are welcome I enjoyed it.
          Patsy

          Oct 26.2017 | 03:12 pm

          Taetske

          Thank you, Patsy, for your comment.
          If all humans would do a little bit to keep our planet nice and healthy this combined effort would guaranty a liveable place for many future generations. Even if one sees a lot of bad things which have a negative impact on our earth one also sees some very hope-giving movements of people trying to help. The planting of new trees recently in Pakistan and India is just one of those examples.

          Regards, Taetske

          Oct 27.2017 | 06:35 am

Ciara

This article just made me yearn for summer here in the US. Butterflies are magnificent and it is a shame that people use them as a trend for a party. It is disgusting to put it frankly.

I cannot wait to own my property so I can have a big garden, but for now I will continue to play flowers where I am renting in hopes to attract butterflies.

What are your thoughts on people capturing the caterpillar and having them hatch into a monarch to release? I know many students do this as a learning experience– is there a negative affect to this?

Thank you so much for writing this article.

–Ciara

Feb 09.2019 | 05:22 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Ciara,

    Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    As a human race we have an obligation to take care of nature, sadly we are doing the opposite.

    You ask me what I think about having a caterpillar and watch the metamorphosis into a monarch butterfly. I can understand it is interesting to observe. The moment the butterfly comes out and its wings are dry it wants to fly. If you keep it confined it might hurt itself. You will have to take it into nature immediately, like that it might have a chance. No good to release it in a city.

    Regards, Taetske

    Feb 10.2019 | 07:53 am

Gracen

Hello Taetske, nothing is actually as prettier as seeing different species of butterflies in their natural habitats. Butterflies are fragile creatures and should not be abused or tampered with, but I guess it is a crazy world where anything can easily trend. 

The incidence on your farm  was quite an unusual event. I would have been more frightened than you if I ever found myself staring at large amount of caterpillars creeping all over my farm. You did great by not using pesticides on your farm. Thanks for your engaging article.

Feb 09.2019 | 05:26 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Gracen,

    Thank you for leaving a comment on my website. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    Living on my farm since 1981 I have seen many changes and sadly not for the better. 2 Seasons have gone missing. You notice that when the in-between type of clothes stay in your wardrobe year after year.

    Years ago there always would be many toads, a protected species in Spain, coming to the big fishpond for the wedding. If it does not rain during December and January you will not see them. 

    My neighbor who has a big avocado farm surrounding my property on 3 sides has also gone organic some years ago. That means all the little creatures come here to live. Some days ago getting wood for the fireplace we found a huge hedgehog with 3 small ones having their winter sleep. We quickly covered them again with lots of leaves and the plastic cover which was over the woodpile.

    Regards, Taetske

    Feb 10.2019 | 07:46 am

Clement

Thank you for this great post, I find it really helpful and nice. I always behold the sight of butterflies been released at crowded wedding but your post has make me come to the understanding that activities of such always put butterflies on the verge of extinction. I can’t agree less with you that we must do everything possible to conserve these little creatures. 

Feb 09.2019 | 05:29 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Clement,

    Nice to see you again. Thank you for your comment.

    Humans can be very thoughtless. It is so easy to destroy but we are not capable to restore this life. We have an obligation to Mother Earth. We have to take care of our habitat as future generations also want to enjoy all the beauty our Planet holds.

    Regards, Taetske

    Feb 10.2019 | 07:34 am

dahay

Hi Taetske,

Now u are writing I think about butterflies for the first time.

This may sound stupid but here I go: “I thought butterflies only existed in warm continents like Africa, Asia, and South-America. I never think about butterflies or talk about their existence.

I think it’s a matter of time before they disappear in the western country’s. With all the pollution, pesticides and cold climate. And of course, they are so fragile.

I love to see butterflies and many others as well but if the environment isn’t suited for it then I think it is a matter of time before they disappear.

I hope not of course. I hope they stay with us forever.

Thank u for writing about these lovely creatures.

Much Love,

Dahay

Feb 09.2019 | 05:36 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Dahay,

    Thank you for your comment on my post. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    I wonder in what part of the world you live? If it is a big city with lots of pollution you probably will not see them.

    Once, on a trip to the Phillippines, I saw very big butterflies, they were very friendly and sat on my hand, this was in 1974.

    It is so sad to see we are destroying our habitat and all these beautiful creatures are disappearing.

    Regards, Taetske

    Feb 10.2019 | 07:31 am

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