at about 5:45 i went outside to out hills hoist to put up the second batch of my washing and take down the first. as i began pegging my clothes up, i noticed a butterfly on the underside of my new sports bra. upon closer inspection, i discovered two. they were mating. on the underside of the elastic band of my brand new bright orange sports bra. i watched them for a bit. one had the end of its thorax inside the other’s. they were facing away from each other, both seemingly oblivious to the fact that i was there. i told them both that i would take the bra down last and if they were still there by then, i was going to have to evict them.
so i hung my washing and took down the dried clothes for about 15 minutes. they were there the entire time. when i had finished, i went back to the butterflies. i don’t think they moved at all. the wind was blowing quite violently and the bra had been moving quite vigorously with it, but the two had maintained their positions, notwithstanding.
i poked them once and they ignored me. i reached out to poke them again but the one facing me began edging away from my finger before i could touch it. the other one moved with it. i chased them in a small circle with my finger on the inside of the elastic band of my bright orange sports bra. i gave up.
took the pegs off, took the bra down, went to a nearby tree trunk and scraped the two butterfly lovers off with the aid of the rough peeling bark. and they stayed in the same position the entire time. i noticed they hadn’t left a trace on my bra.
that process took at least 15 minutes, and who knows how long they were on there before it? so what i wonder is this: is it intrinsically embedded in the nature of (those two) butterflies that mating, and thus maintaining the survival of their species, outweighs the importance of the survival of the individual creature? know that i wasn’t intending any harm in observing so closely, or even poking them, but were i in their position i would feel threatened and instinctively try to flee. but on the other hand, the butterfly’s most prevalent features are bright, striking patterned wings, undoubtedly to help them attract mates (Darwin’s theory of sexual selection, i think). they are easily prey for birds, bats, spiders, whatever eats them (i don’t really know). i’m not even sure if the two insects i was observing were butterflies or not, but they were black-bodied, had black wings with translucent orange spots and a furry thorax that ended in a yellow-oramge tip (female, as far as i could tell).
one more question bugging me (haha) – why my bright orange sports bra? was it because it was new, orange, or because it provided a convenient shelter? Amongst the washing there, there was also bright blue, fading yellows and reds, white and black, and some colours in between. can butterflies differentiate between colours? are they attracted to some more than others? could they tell that the bra was opened at one end and sense that it was more stable? i think they do perceive colour; why else would some flowers be so bright and colourful? however, i don’t know if they see the same way humans do.
i don’t plan to look into any of this and make a huge scientific research project out of it or anything, but i will leave this topic open to opinions, facts and discussion. contributions are welcome :) (yes, i’m being lazy).