Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Butterfly

This butterfly was born in a glass jar and released outside on February 22, 2012. I've been collecting caterpillar cocoons for a few years now, storing them in a jar for observation and releasing them after their born.

The butterflies lay their eggs on the citrus trees outside, which become caterpillars, and those that survive (many don't, many are eaten, stepped on, or freeze to death) after a couple of months of living life as a caterpillar, go into a sort of hibernation, their body forms into a hardened shell, its protective chrysalis, where over the period of a few months, the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly.

Not all butterflies make it. They actually have to break through the shell themselves. Kind of like being buried alive in a wooden casket after being in a coma for a few months, and having to break your way through in complete darkness with no food or water or nobody around to help you out or tell you what to do.

The object above the butterfly to its right is the chrysalis it came out of.
So as you can probably imagine, in order to fit into that thing
it must have had its wings folded up pretty tight. 

Sometimes the butterfly lacks the strength to do this, it may have poorly developed wings, the result of stunted development or mutation, and it's unable to find its way out. But it absolutely must do it itself. You could say that the process of breaking through the cocoon chrysalis is all part of the necessary growth and maturation of becoming a fully formed butterfly. Its wings, and perhaps its intelligence and other senses, are strengthened by the process. It's a sort of butterfly vision quest, that nobody else can do for it. In other words if you break open the cocoon for it, even just a little bit, thinking you're helping it along, you're actually stunting its development, and the effect will often be that the butterfly, if it survives, will be unable to fly. 

I'm sure there's a lesson in this that we can apply to people as well. That sometimes when you help a person too much, it actually weakens them, making them overly dependent on your help, and robbing them of the necessary skills and strength they need to help themselves. Which is not to say that you shouldn't help anyone, but just that there are certain things that a person MUST learn to do themselves, and if anyone else does it for them, even if their intentions are good, it could really set them back. 

Outer wings. 
The more colorful patterns
 are on the inner side of the wings. 
It sat here on this branch for a couple of hours
before it finally left.