A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies

Over the past few seasons many gardeners have lamented the increasing absence of insects, butterflies among them.

And then just recently, after extensive heat then flooding rains here in Eastern Australia, something truly wonderful happened. There was a butterfly explosion where I live. Clouds of them floating across the highways and beaches. Alighting on people and pets, getting caught in car grills. Flitting among the plants in my tiny courtyard.

Blue Tiger (Tirumala hamata) on a callistemon flower- photos courtesy of my daughter

Instantly, the summer days of my childhood were invoked. The whirr, whirr, of my dad mowing the lawn with a push mower. The smell of freshly cut grass enhanced by the warmth of the summer day. My mother, be-hatted and bending over her dahlias, deadheading the flowers among the bees. And me, squinting into the sun as I chased the floating clouds of butterflies over my head.

The Blue Tiger butterfly, (Tirumala hamata) and two Scarlet Jezebels, Delias argenthona

Ahh … to bask for a while in the idyllic past. Although we know of course, the past is never quite as golden as we recall. Still, I’m grateful for those selective memories.

Of course, if we want butterflies, we must tolerate the caterpillars. Like so many things in life, there is always a downside to balance the up. But after their prolonged absence, I’m happy to sacrifice a few chewed leaves to have the butterflies. Reminder to self: don’t squash any more caterpillars!

Common Emigrant or Lemon Emigrant (Catopsilia pomona)

In many cultures the butterfly is the quintessential symbol of metamorphosis, change, transition. The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, gave the butterfly the name psyche , the Greek word for soul [ref]. In the discipline of psychoanalysis the butterfly is regarded as a symbol of rebirth. While in China, the butterfly symbolises secondary meanings of joy and conjugal bliss [ref].

Such a lot of symbolic weight on those tiny diaphanous wings!

So beyond the fleeting beauty of this little wanderer, my preference is to see its presence as a harbinger of change. A transition from the struggle in isolation of the chrysalis to metamorphose, then escape its cocooning prison, and emerge as something different, more beautiful. More than that, the butterfly signifies the naturalness of change, its constancy. I am grateful to Nature for the lessons offered.

When you find yourself cocooned in isolation and you cannot find your way out of darkness…
Remember, this is similar to the place where caterpillars go to grow their wings.

-Necole Stephens

21 responses to “A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies

    • Thanks Steph, I am well and grateful for it. We seem to be doing reasonably well in Australia to date although it’s too soon to be complacent. I watch your progress with interest, and hope my blogging friends are not among those demonstrating for a relaxation of the rules. .
      I’ll pass on your compliment to my daughter. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. So we’re cocooning like caterpillars in the process of metamorphosis? I LIKE that comparison, Robyn. You make me feel better about myself. In a little while I’m going back into the garden for another work session, this time catching up on rose pruning down the east lane toward the front gate. (I think I already wrote about that somewhere. Mind rambling around in circles these days.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is beautiful. I am glad the butterflies came back, I hope I will see more this year than last, but so far only a few Cabbage Whites. I also like “…emerge as something different, more beautiful.” We can only hope this is the case.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Jude! I’d like to think it’s a sign of an insect resurgence but research is showing otherwise. Nevertheless, it was uplifting and encouraging to see all the butterflies. And yes, maybe we will emerge from our isolation better for it.


  3. The butterflies are breathtaking, Robyn. I’ve seen the emigrant in my garden (thanks for ID) but not the others. There has been an explosion of insects in my garden too, after the rain.

    Liked by 1 person

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