November 29th, 2020

The Dirty Truth About Butterflies

It’s easy for a religiously bred

(misled) girl to make an Eden of

a garden, angels of winged soon dead,

repopulating in three weeks. But love’s

amino acids butterflies won’t find

in agapanthus nectar, waterfalls —

forage upon foul ground. Why guides remind

you, always, to look down — scavengers fall

for proteins essential to reproduce

even from refuse, urine, rot or mud,

tears, also blood — this preserve could have used

manure, corpses to attract as much as buds.

Butterflies adapt to horrors, fairytales

an innocence also at home in hell.


I had the opportunity to see a butterfly preserve, and it was the most magical experience. The picture that accompanies this post I took inside. From the moment, the airlock opened and I stepped out into a lush Edenesque garden, small black amd red wings first fluttered towards me making contact with my cheeks and eyelashes. It felt like making contact with tiny angels. For an atheist, that is really a large thing to say.

I remembered, as I walked about in awe, the guide’s admonition to walk carefully as many butterflies might actually be on the ground. I hadn’t inquired as to the reason for this though I was intensely curious. My eyes flitted between the waterfalls, dense bushes and blooms and the concrete path through the oversized greenhouse. He was right, too. There were at least a dozen times I could have stepped on a butterfly had I not been paying attention.

Only after the experience did I Google the reason why butterflies are attracted to the ground. What I found out changed my naive, fairytale schoolgirl view of butterflies entirely. They are scavengers, you see. Though it’s true they live their few weeks of life — a fact relayed by the website of the preserve not by any guide at the time — mostly upon the nectar so pleasingly delivered in pastel petals, they require salts and amino acids to do things like reproduce. And to acquire those things they must scavenge on the ground for any kind of liquid castoff of other animals even humans.

Butterflies are scavengers. You can attract them as equally with dead bodies as bee balm or any other plants. I had felt so unworthy of their seraphic like contact against my skin and yet perhaps they sought my blood, sweat or tears. Like me, butterflies are complicated and full of dirty truths. I thought you should know.