Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Day that Oliver Came to Play

Yesterday morning, to escape the misty rain and fog, a little purple and brown butterfly called Oliver floated into my bedroom and landed on my bed.

I had to take him back outside as houses are no place for butterflies; with no fresh flowers or streams of water. I don't think he wanted to go back out; he was quite difficult to catch and it took me nearly an hour to find him at one stage, but he did pose for a few photos.

Having Oliver come to visit reminded me of my fascination with butterflies and bugs when I was a child. I was crazily into all sorts of six-legged creatures and dreamt of becoming an entomologist, or scientist who studies insects. Now I couldn't be more afraid and horrified by creepy crawlies, but at the time I would run about all over my backyard with a little net and bug catcher, playing with my little 'friends'.

I even had a pet butterfly for about a week. I found him sitting on our driveway one day when he was just newly hatched from his cocoon. He was absolutely perfect and new, but only had four legs. Butterflies need all six legs to balance properly while flying, so my butterfly could only walk around instead. I knew he would soon be eaten by ants, so I 'rescued' him and made a little butterfly house on my drawers. He was a Tailed Emperor and was the biggest butterfly I'd ever seen.

Tailed Emperor Butterfly. Picture from here.

I fed him with fresh flowers from the garden and a little container of water and was glad to see him eating and drinking. Then, after a couple of days when I was holding him in my hands, he took off and flew right across the room and back into his house. I was so delighted because I thought that this meant I had nursed my little butterfly so well that he had overcome his disability and was now fit for life in the wild. I planned to release him the next day, but sadly he died over the night.

At the time I think I was quite sad, but now that I think back on it, a week is a long time for a butterfly to live, and if I hadn't rescued him from the ground when I found him he would have been eaten quickly by birds or ants. I didn't have many pets as a child, just birds and fish, and I desperately wanted one that I could hold and play with, so I have very fond memories of the week that I spent with my little butterfly.

Today the sun is peeping back out from behind the clouds, so I hope Oliver is happy back outside frolicking amongst some flowers.


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