A Gift from Mother Nature, the Butterfly
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 at a crowded wedding.
I am amazed at what people can come up with and feel rather disgusted by this idea. When walking in nature to see butterflies in their natural habitat, is there anything prettier?
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.
Fossils of Butterflies
Butterflies are ancient insects. There are fossils of butterflies that 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, birds and ants, and perhaps a frog, toad, and chameleon that catches a butterfly for dinner. Some butterflies can also be a pest and when in their larvae state can attack crops or trees.
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 crept 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 sizeable pieces missing and that will impede vegetable development. I have a “green” farm so it is a battle with nature, no pesticides but still trying to get a harvest.
The long voyage of the Monarch Butterfly
There are butterfly species that are 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.
Take the time to look at this lovely YouTube video on the Monarch Butterflies.
They start the trip back in March, but no individual butterfly can complete the entire round trip. Female monarchs 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 screams out to be understood.
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 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 set up by a Dutchman.
The park spreads out over 10 acres and is very impressive. On entering one is requested to not touch the animals under any circumstances, it is allowed to take photos.
You enter a sizeable 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 absolutely 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 an acclimatized 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 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 huge and high room with 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.
This visit was special. 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.
How to attract butterflies to your garden
If you now start wondering how you can attract butterflies to your garden, it is easy. One should plant certain bushes and you will see how many butterflies will come to visit.
Alyssum, Beebalm, Cosmos, Delphinium, Lupine, Milkweed, Musk mallow, Grasses, Butterfly bush, Calendula, Fennel, Globe thistle, Hollyhock, Lavender, Oregano, Sage, Queen Anne’s lace, Marigold, and the list goes on.
Another very important thing you will have to do is to make your garden organic. You cannot use any pesticides in a butterfly garden.
An unusual and helpful book
This is a special book written by Liz Primeau and illustrated by Joe Weissmann. You take a page, plant it, and then beautiful flowers will grow. These flowers will attract all kinds of butterflies into your garden. Enjoy.
There are so many beautiful things in nature. We should take good care of our environment so we and future generations can enjoy this amazing planet.
Before you leave, have a look at this page. It is a collection of things I like and find interesting. Please click on Recommendations.
Source: Wikipedia and My Life
Photos Pixabay and Private
All living things play a role in our world. Losing them would create an imbalance. Every year there are fewer birds, bees, and insects. Perhaps you are interested to read the following post.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I agree! we can only do as much as possible to fix any damage caused.
You are welcome I enjoyed it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Butterflies are just simply amazing when you look at the many species of these tiny insect and their biology it is just mind blowing. I have written a few articles on these amazing insects that deserve our attention. I love seeing them in a garden setting. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on butterfly with the world.
Good afternoon Norman,
Thank you for stopping by and for your comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.
I read that you are in landscaping, lovely job close to nature. I have done something similar since I started on my farm in 1981. I have been building up this abandoned place, which is now nearly 200 years old.I planted many trees and bushes which now give shade around the house. Especially nice in the hot summers.
I have been organic since the beginning and am surrounded by organic avocado farms. That is why this is a real little paradise for insects, birds, and small mammals. I also enjoy the sight of beautiful butterflies in the garden, a real blessing.
Butterflies are such wonderful creatures! They are so amazing with all the different colours. I have a question to you. I am living in North of Norway and we do have a lot of butterflies here. But I have no Idea what kind of plants I should plant in my garden to attract butterflies to arctic climate. Do you have any suggestions for me?
Good afternoon Hilde,
As you live in the North of Norway and I live in the south of Spain these are 2 completely different worlds. Therefor your question is not an easy one, but I will forward 2 links and I hope you can glean some knowledge from it.
Thank you for your comment on my website.
I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.
Very interesting discourse here, and I really value all you have shared. To be honest, I think the decline of butterflies these days can be a cause for alarm, especially with the wedding trend of releasing them.
Surely, only God can know the number of butterflies that must have died to this crazy idea. I will definitely try to share this with people too and ensure we get sensitised on the dangers attached to this.
Good Morning Nathaniel,
The main problem butterflies face is the loss of habitat and the use of pesticides. But it is undeniable that crazy ideas like letting butterflies loose on a wedding contribute as well. We should learn to respect nature instead of destroying it.
Thank you for your visit and for your comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.
It’s so displeasing to hear of how people are treating these nature’s gifts that are meant to be treated in a very tender manner. Butterflies are very beautiful and seeing them alone is so sweet, the idea of releasing at a wedding or crowded event is a bad idea, thanks for sharing this thoughtful article.
Good Morning Bruce,
Thank you for your comment on my website. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.
Humans can really come up with crazy ideas. We should take care of our environment, which after all is our habitat and that of future generations.
Your post was so beautiful and inspiring! I am also a lover of butterflies and enjoy watching them in nature. We see them often on our farm, especially in the areas where we leave some wildflowers and bushes to grow. Like you, we try to use natural growing techniques and no pesticides, so our butterfly population, along with the honey bees, flourishes.
You mentioned Butterfly Park in Florida. The location is less than 4 hours from us, but I have yet to make it there. After reading your description, I’m thinking I need to find the time.
Thanks for a very nice morning pick-me-up read!
Good Morning Diane,
The Butterfly Park in Fort Lauderdale is definitely worth a visit. I suppose you have to check on opening hours as with this coronavirus everything is different. I was there in 1999, so I suppose they have expanded the park during those 20 years.
I have also noticed the many insects and little critters on my organic farm. Some years ago my neighbor, bordering on 3 sides with his big avocado farm, also went green. That is very positive.
Thank you for stopping by and your comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.