Friday, February 25, 2011

Butterflies Are Blooming

Spring will arrive in the northern states of America soon. Winter can't last forever and we are far enough into the new calendar year 2011 so that on the coldest days we can feel the sun's warmth and see the snow melt. I'm ready how about you?

If it's spring weather you like when flowers abound and you can feel genuine early season warmth visit Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan from March thru April. Butterflies emerge from Chrysalids and Atlas and African moon moths from cocoons. A thousand are shipped from Costa Rica, Africa and South America to FMG weekly. Night of the butterflies makes its appearance this Spring, too, with three nights of searching for them with flashlights. All are spectacular creatures to bring back those youthful remembrance days of chasing butterflies with nets or studying moths. The moths with their green, purple and yellow tails are stunning.

Remember chasing butterflies? I always marveled how they always escaped. You'd think they had eyes in the backs of their heads. They do! Human moms have those same eyes - they know when their children are misbehaving!

Butterflies have circle vision. When chased with nets they see our every movement and dodge us. Butterflies have upwards of ten thousand compound eyes in each eye and the only place they can't see is right under their nose just as humans can't do it without moving their lips. Stop that! You don't want your cross-eyes to lock in that position studying the tip of your nose.

The butterflies in the Lena Meijer Conservatory are wild, not tame. If they choose to land on you it is a gift visit, the bright colors of clothing or they adore your fragrance. Overpowering fragrances they do not like. They taste you with their feet and butterflies do not bite, but they do tickle human skin hair.

If a gorgeous Postman butterfly does land on you don't touch, because the wing scales rub off on damp fingertips. Touching the butterflies is a no-no. You must stroke their beauty with your eyes only and not touch. Butterflies and body parts are very fragile and do not respond well to touching by children or adults so, too, you must watch where you walk since they like to land on well traveled cobblestone pathways in the conservatory.

If you see one of the few frogs; terrestrial or tree frogs eat a butterfly, well 'that's life'. Every living creature on earth must eat to survive and in the warm tropical conservatory the frogs and chameleons will eat 3-4 small butterflies in a single afternoon. Many a person has asked me to rescue a butterfly that was snatched for an afternoon snack. Can't its got more rights than us to eat what it sees practically land on its nose. Butterflies fly free, but a frog's long tongue lashes out like a lightning bolt and it don't miss. Butterflies are stupid and commit suicide landings within tongue's reach. Frogs pick and choose what's best to eat. Stomach expands.

Butterfly wings are color-coded for danger. Bright colors of black, yellow, orange and red combinations are warning colors that mean; eat at your own risk. "I can injure or kill you, which do you prefer". The birds of the air, the animals on land and fish under the sea know enough not to attack a colorful butterfly. Wing colors sometimes mimic poisonous species. You can come and watch life unfold in the conservatory as Cross-bearing treefrogs target the Postman butterfly. It'll eat until its belly is full in a single afternoon. This frog was not planted in the conservatory, but some things show up unannounced from hiding in plant material or root balls. They share the stories of our lives with family and friends viewing colorful butterflies on a warm winter day.

If you have a fascination for trying to find butterflies at night bring the whole family, because nighttime viewing is hard work, because butterflies hide efficiently. Thousands fly free during the day, but when the sun goes down they simply disappear and segregate together and rest in the trees, plants and flowers until the warm rays of sun again appear in the conservatory. Butterflies need the sun's warmth. Dark clouds and gray days they aren't as active just like humans and muskrats that feel so gloomy on gray days of winter.

Night of the Butterflies is Monday, March 7, Sunday, March 13, and Saturday, March 26. Doors open at 5 p.m. with events and activities begin at 6 p.m. For daily viewing contact Frederik Meijer Gardens (FMG) or find hours of operations on the web. Don't forget to bring a charged camera. See you there!

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