Monday, 29 December 2008

Christmas butterfly

I confess I did not take this photo, I 'borrowed' it from the searchable archives.

Each winter since we have been at Michael House, we have had one or two Vanessa butterflies hibernate in the house over winter. Some have lived, some have died. Last winter one was poised above our bed on the ceiling for months. Then, I realised it had gone. I had not found little sad bits of butterfly dotted about, so I can only assume it survived and went on to enjoy the warmer weather.

We have one in the porch at present. I have put out some sugar water for it to drink. Apparently they taste with their feet, so I hope it knows what it has there! One year I overdid the stickiness and the poor thing got all stuck down, so I hope I have avoided that this time.

I thought the poor thing had died, it was folded up and on its side. But I glanced at it later, and there it was, wings resplendant, so I have popped it back with it's water in the porch.

It is interesting that we make such a fuss of pretty things. If it were a moth, would I be bothering? Perhaps. If it were a wasp, a cockroach? I doubt that there is much difference between a butterfly and a cockroach's experience of pain or pleasure, whatever they have of either. It is largely our love of what we interpret as beautiful or useful that dictates our decision to protect one creature over another. I would be likely to protect a bee before a wasp, a butterfly before a moth, a pretty caterpillar over a cabbage white, I suspect most of us would.

I do hope this butterfly survives the winter and goes on to do great butterfly things in 2009.

I do find another affinity with these butterflies of course, the name!

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