Monday, April 23, 2007

A Double Life

Glossy black, the butterfly changes direction and a flash of blue and orange hits my lens. It comes to rest of an overhang nearby. Tiny delicate scales reflect and refract light back in a jewel like display of color.

Insects are some of the most interesting creatures on earth, yet we as viewers have very mixed feelings about them. Some like them, others are completely awed by them- dedicating their lives to their study. Still more are repulsed by them, and afraid of what is alien like and unfamiliar.

Because of their cultural popularity, butterflies have been mostly exempted from the negative feelings. They still have six legs, antenna, and strange mouth parts. They still hatch from eggs, and at one time in their lives were worm like pests, quickly destroying plants in dense populations. Even their similar nocturnal cousins- moths- are generally disliked save for a few special species.

Lets face it, butterflies are accepted for one iconic quality- their beautiful wings.

They come in every size, shape and color- from every continent excepting Antarctica. They are beautiful and unusual on close inspection. Strange eyes, bizarre straw like mouth parts, and uniquely shaped scale covered wings make them very different close up.

They have religious, social and cultural and sometimes personal meaning. Butterflies are an international icon of spring.

Lets face it, thats a lot to ask of a little insect whose entire life purpose is to live a very short while and then produce the next generation before leaving this world.

Butterflies seem to lead a double life. On on hand they are insects. On the other, they are the friendly and beautiful representation of the insect world- not really seen by the layman as insects at all.

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