Category Archives: Insects

Story of the “Tame” Butterfly

For the most part it’s the furry, cute mammals that get all the attention. Puppies, kittens, ponies – almost anyone will stop to give them a cuddle and some baby-talk.

Insects, on the other hand, easily go about their day unnoticed. Perhaps a beautiful monarch, like the one above, will get a remark like, “Oh look! A butterfly!” But will more than likely not receive a second glance from passersby. My point being that we really don’t stop enough to observe insects, and it’s rare that I hear anyone enthusiastically sharing a story about one. No one ever really says, “Man, you shoulda seen what I saw this honey bee do today!” Not your average person that is…

So what really brought on this post was a story that my former employer, at a local honey and bee supply store, told me…

A woman had come in a few weeks earlier and began to tell of a butterfly she had rescued. The butterfly, I believe it was a monarch, was injured in a way that prevented it from surviving on its own. Perhaps a broken wing? Details weren’t shared, unfortunately.

The lady took this butterfly to a butterfly specialist and asked, “So… what can I do to help this creature?” The assumed response was that there wasn’t much she could do except keep it safe and happy until it passed away. With a bit of information on “butterfly care”, aka what they require to survive, she took her new friend home!

Every morning she would carry the butterfly from his or her box to a flower outside that was freshly sprayed with water. The lady would then sort of “baby sit” her patient by keeping an eye on it while it ate and hung out on the flower for the majority of the day.

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My employer mentioned that this woman spoke of this butterfly as if it were a deceased pet dog or cat. Going on and on about how great it was while it was still around. This brought up questions for me: Do you think the butterfly began to recognize the lady or routine? Was any sort of bond formed between the two?

“Oh yeah,” my employer recalled. Apparently, in the beginning, it was difficult to “catch” or pick the butterfly out of the box but, by the end, it would climb up onto her hand. So it seems that it did, in some way, understand the routine: climb on to this hand –> go to flower.

This fascinates me! I want to learn more… It has never been brought to my attention that an insect can cooperate in this way. Do you think it “appreciated” what the lady was doing? Or recognized the effort? I hope to find more stories like this and share them with you.

Have you heard any stories of insects forming bonds with people or becoming more “tame”? Perhaps you’ve experienced it for yourself?

It’s a whole new world to explore…

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Filed under Behavioral musings, Human & Animal Interactions, Insects