Outreach butterflies (and moths) and ephemeral beauty

Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia), North America's largest native moth

Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia), North America’s largest native moth, somewhat beaten up from all the attention

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But still beautiful

We had a big outreach event over the weekend called Insectapalooza.  It was a lot of fun; these kinds of events are always a great way to get people excited about insects (and nature in general).  I spent the day near a bumblebee hive discussing the life history of bumblebees and other bees with hundreds of people.  (I ended up calling bumblebees “winnie the pooh bees” because they build honey pots instead of honey combs.)

The Malabar Tree Nymph  (Idea malabarica) from India

The Malabar Tree Nymph (Idea malabarica) from India

IMG_6491 IMG_6497One of our rooms was a butterfly room.  The kids love it, they can interact with butterflies and moths as they flit freely about.  On one hand, I think this is great; the kids are super excited about them.  But on the other hand, the insects do suffer a bit.  These butterflies were from all over the world, so they can’t be released (and we are heading into winter so they would die if we did release them).

My personal favourite from the day, the Malachite (Siproeta stelenes)

My personal favourite from the day, the Malachite (Siproeta stelenes)

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I think the light coming through the wings is quite cool

IMG_6514I asked for the opportunity to photograph them before they die (or in the case of the more traumatized ones, just after they did).  I don’t know why, I guess I just wanted to preserve their beauty for a little longer.

A North American butterfly this time, the Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis); I like how offended he looks

A North American butterfly this time, the Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis); I like how offended he looks

IMG_6533I make a terrible entomologist sometimes.

The Julia Butterfly (Dryas iulia) did not survive the children handling her

The Julia Butterfly (Dryas iulia) did not survive the children handling her

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She has beautiful eyes

She has beautiful eyes

Butterflies are very ephemeral things anyway.  The adult stage does not usually last long, and they are bombarded by all sorts of threats and predators.  But still, it is a bit sad to see them this way…

This is a Mourning Cloak, or Nymphalis antiopa

This is a Mourning Cloak, or Nymphalis antiopa

Can you tell that he is related to the question mark?

Can you tell that he is related to the question mark?

So here is my pictorial eulogy in honour of the beauty of these butterflies, that gave their lives to inspire a love of nature with the world.

This Owl Butterfly (Caligo sp.) also did not survive

This Owl Butterfly (Caligo sp.) also did not survive

Beautiful eyes

Beautiful eyes

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8 thoughts on “Outreach butterflies (and moths) and ephemeral beauty

  1. My favourite is the Cecropia Moth. I think what you are doing by opening up the wonders of nature to children is priceless. I copied adults by screaming and running away from spiders and insects. It took too long to realise the stupidity of it.

  2. I wonder if it would be better to teach the children to look but not touch them, so they don’t try to touch butterflies and moths in the wild. The Cecropia Moth is amazing.

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