March 14, 2010
PHOENIX, Ariz. – A few steps inside their sanctuary, while I was adjusting my camera, I was embraced by two tiny sparks of life as delicate as moonlight. They grabbed my hand with their tiny feet.
All I could do, to avoid startling my two new friends, was stand still. They explored my hand for several minutes.
Eventually, they flew off, joining their many other colorful cousins in the Marshall Butterfly Pavilion at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Each spring and fall, the Butterfly Exhibit becomes one of the Garden’s most popular attractions.
Some butterflies taste with their feet. That allows them to determine which leaves or flowers are the best places to lay their eggs. Shown are Julia butterflies. Copyright photo by Mike Padgett.
We’re talking about hundreds of butterflies in one place. Watch them flit from flower to flower, or land on the orange slices placed inside the pavilion for them. I’m fascinated by the way they feed. They unfurl a coiled proboscis, or tubular mouth, from their head to get flower nectar. Or juice from orange slices.
When one of the garden workers said many butterflies can taste with their feet, I wondered what the two butterflies were tasting while they explored my hand. Soap? Essence of Steering Wheel with Coffee Cup Seasoning?
If one of the winged wonders lands on you, savor the moment. Allow your wonder at their shimmering colors to unravel the stress caused by fatigue and freeway fumes.
A butterfly is the original shape shifter. It begins life as a caterpillar. It could represent greed because it gorges itself. It later goes into a cocoon, from which it comes back to life as a butterfly, more beautiful than before. In Christianity, the appearance of butterflies each spring around Easter gives it a spiritual connection to the Resurrection.
Butterfly symbols are found in many religions and cultures. They represent transformation, change, joy and beauty. Shown is a Zebra longwing butterfly. Copyright photo by Mike Padgett.
Some believe that if a butterfly enters your life by landing on you, it is an omen suggesting that you are – or will be – undergoing a major change.
A cocoon, to some, might represent fear or beliefs that restrict a person’s individual growth. Break free of the confining cocoon and, like a butterfly, enjoy new opportunities and freedoms.
Butterflies live an average of a month, depending on their size, species, and where they live, according to www.thebutterflysite.com.
Some butterflies live about a week, and others as long as several months. During their short lives, butterflies – like this Pipevine swallowtail – spread beauty by helping pollinate flowers. Copyright photo by Mike Padgett.
Visit the Desert Botanical Garden’s web site, www.dbg.org, for more details about its Butterfly Exhibit. The Garden’s address is 1201 N. Galvin Parkway in Phoenix.
Another interesting site offering details about butterflies and their life cycle is www.magicoflife.org/Pupal_emergence.html, prepared by The Magic of Life Butterfly House.
Only one other time have I seen so many delicate creatures in one place. It was in the 1980s on a mountain near the mining community of Globe, east of metro Phoenix. We were following a winding Forest Service road. We stopped for a break and saw a bush that was pulsing with movement. When we walked closer, we saw that the waist-high reddish bush was covered with ladybugs. Tens of thousands of ladybugs. Probably more. They were swarming. And I didn’t have a camera.
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