Update on the Butterfly Affair

    Oops, can’t ‘update’ a non-existent post, so this shall be your first report on my sad learning experience.
  It all started that day I noticed I had (count ’em) 16 caterpillars ready to spin their mummy-like chrysalises, and thence to be adult Papillo Machaons.
 Photo courtesy of Oz Ritner, who has a beautiful site on Israeli Lepidoptera.This species is the ‘Old World’ version of the familiar Tiger Swallowtail, P. glaucus. Luckily its host plant here is the easy-to-grow Common Rue. What the adults like, I still don’t know. One thing’s for certain, they absolutely abhorred my spiffy cage/palace I built in a frenzied fever.

 Like an expectant mom arranging the crib, etc in the future newborn’s little bedroom. I gave them shelves of Rue, and seven kinds of colorful flowers, in baskets, in planters, hell, in garden-fresh vinaigrette sauce with a side of organic passiflora. Two trays, complete with washed stones for comfortable standing/seating, contained sugar-water, stale beer, and past-its-sell-by melons, cut into attractive cubes.
    So what did the ingrates say to all this maternal brouhaha?
“We jus wanna get the f*ck outta heah!” And to prove it they buzzed against the mosquito netting sun-up to sun-down, some even tearing off parts of their wings. Not a one even alighted on a flower, or even sampled the repast. Not once. And I watched.
It took me three (3) anguished days to admit failure and release them. Yesterday. Only God and His chief entomologist knows how humongous a cage I’d need to spring for in order to make these prima donnas happy.
So there ya go: the Dream, the Hard work to make it Come True…. and the Dashing of Hope against the Rocks. All in one post.

I’ll still raise the caterpillars though. Sometimes when they look up at me through the chicken-wire bird-protection screen they almost seem to be saying, weakly, ‘Um…thank you Johnny. Nom nom.’. Then they grow up, metamorphose, and curse the hand that fed them. Nature can be so cruel.


9 thoughts on “Update on the Butterfly Affair

  1. ZSA_MD

    Oh wow. How dare they curse the hand that feeds them! Those butterflies, they are just so flighty SOBs.!!It’s so good to see you again after half a century it seems. Hope you are doing well.

  2. dirtbubble

    I am experiencing a bizarre resonance with this post that cannot be fully explained. The partial explanation is I like butterflies more than normal people do – and just today I rediscovered some butterfly drawings I made long ago. That, and when I was reasonably and humanely restrained in a blue enclosure (a playpen) at 18 months old I was an insufferable brat about it and my mom never tried it again – which is also my earliest memory. Weird, huh?

  3. jsolberg

    @ZSA_MD – Thanks, and as to doing well, I have so many various projects going on that putting together a short post w/pix takes days, to find the spare minutes. And I often suspected that butterflies were untrustworthy, ha. A popular song goes “She ain’t pretty/ she just looks that way.”

  4. jsolberg

    @dirtbubble –  yes, bro, weird but smile-inducing. Lots of times my true comment on a post should be ‘Something about this feels very familiar. brb when I figure out why.’ Now to decide whether to truncate the antennae on the laminate I made of the first picture. Feels like amputation, but they’ll never see the difference from the street. Hmm…

  5. elgan

    The day I visited you, I had also been to the botanical gardens, Utopia, where they have a butterfly enclosure. It is rather larger than yours, I must admit, and completely full of plants. But there weren’t very many butterflies. I cannot say how they do it. Maybe they offer better benefits.

  6. Roadkill_Spatula

    Dang, I didn’t see this post until now. It reminds me of my brief stint in relief/development work, in which I learned that what people seem to need and what they want are usually different, and that there is little gratitude if either is provided. One memorable quote from a volunteer in our refugee project in Honduras: “Get out of my way! I’m trying to help you!” Another: “90% of refugee work is trying to keep them from stealing what you’re going to give them anyway.”

  7. jsolberg

    @elgan – Wow that hurts, hearing something is larger than mine, ha. I joked today that my butterflies would probably congregate around a lone window w/screen lying out in an open field, trying to get through it instead of going around. Oh well

  8. jsolberg

    @Roadkill_Spatula – That’s wise and observant, Tim. It does seem that most real-world consequences are unintended, ha. (And the remaining chrysilises are mysteriously not hatching.. as if they’ve been told, wrongly now, what fate awaits them. Who knows anymore, with all kinds of weird science?


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