Butterfly Blood is Red

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

And other true stories. It WOULD make a great title, wouldn’t it?

A few weeks ago, I ordered a butterfly-growing kit and J and M and I have watched with great interest as the caterpillars emerged from the larval stage, grew fat, and clung to the lid of their jar. Then M and I transferred the critters to the “butterfly garden” ( netted tent)—this we did a bit sloppily. A few days later, J batted the tent really hard—because they were “sleeping” and he wanted them to “wake up!”. Anyway, after a few more days M and I decided the critters had met an untimely end and ordered more caterpillars. We avoided going to the corner where we’d hung the tent so J wouldn’t ask us what had happened. The new caterpillars arrived. We cleaned. M yelped—one had hatched. Apparently only moments before as it was standing just next to its cocoon, wings still stiff, blood—excuse me “meconium” everywhere.

And now, all 5—even the one we dropped on transfer—have hatched. Today they are three days old, and learning how to fly. The still can’t quite get the hang of it. And there is blood, everywhere. I had no idea that butterflies bled, or that their blood would be red. And they can’t fly when first born, and they have to wait for their wings to dry, to solidify.

It was J’s birthday on Saturday, and I think this is my favorite gift of his—better than the rocking chair, better than the train set, butterflies. Nature. Life.

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