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Thursday, December 8, 2016

GRAND MYSTERY #4: Beautiful Butterflies

If you are keeping up with this blog site, you are generally aware that I've experienced three grand mysteries in my entire life.  The first two were reported on in Chapter 5 of my SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:
  • Schick  Quattro
  • Soap at bottom of bed
These were examples of reality that defied explanation.  So I called them miracles.  You can click on Chapter 5 to read the details.

Grand Mystery #3 only came last month.  It had to do with my calamansi plant and the green colored red mask parakeets screeching around my building.  However, this mystery was solved so it did not attain miracle status.

This week, however, here came Grand Mystery #4:  a beautiful butterfly appeared two days ago next to the calamansi plant I had moved indoors to avoid the parakeets.  I would have loved to have it stay with me indoors,  but with so short a lifespan, I should release it into the wild.  Yet, how could I carefully catch it to safely let it go.  I thought of that fish net I once used for flying cockroaches.  But it was probable I did not bring it to my current living quarters after leaving my previous apartment.  The best I could quickly come up with was to wet a paper towel and place it over the butterfly, then cover it so that I could take it to the lanai.  It worked!  The butterfly flew away and I had done my good deed for the day.


That was not the Grand Mystery.  I purchased a second calamansi plant (above, with at least a hundred citrus globes in various stages of maturity) two days ago and yesterday decided to place it next to my other one.  The timing is a bit cloudy, but essentially the very next day another butterfly, looking exactly like the other one, appeared in the same place.  This time I took photos:



I'm sure I've seen this species before, but it definitely was not a Monarch, for as a child I captured caterpillars on crown flower plants and watched them undergo the metamorphosis process into a butterfly.  

These were always Monarchs.  Wikipedia indicates that this variety ONLY consumes milkweed.  Turns out that the crown flower is in the milkweed family.  How did they come to Hawaii?  Apparently they flew here a long time ago and found out they could survive on crown flower leaves.  Unfortunately, pesticides and the red-vented bulbul, which suddenly appeared here a half a century ago, have decimated the Monarch population.

So I began to think, how could the same butterfly appear in the same spot when I'm in an air-conditioned apartment and it would be impossible for a butterfly to fly in and end up next to the plant by the glass wall.  A few options:
  • Most likely:  I was dreaming.  In fact, when I was relating this mystery at the dinner table last night I thought the color was black and bluish, not yellow, so at my advanced age, this might well be the ultimate explanation.
  • However:  is it possible that  the caterpillar of this butterfly plants its pupa on calamansi plants, and it was pure coincidence that they happened to leave its chrysalis one day apart.  In both instances, it appeared that the butterfly had just emerged and was in a kind of afterbirth shock, so I could easily catch it.  However, I can't find any evidence of anything looking like a chrysalis on my two plants.  On this second release, I did not just throw it over the lanai railing.  I let it rest at the base of my basil plant.  In ten minutes, the butterfly recovered and flew away.  Another good deed for humanity.
  • On the other hand:  yes, this might qualify as a miracle, for maybe this location in my apartment has become the site for the spontaneous generation of butterflies, and for eternity I will be producing beautiful butterflies.  It's a good thing this phenomenon did not germinate B-52 cockroaches, for which Hawaii is famous.  In any case, this is Day 3, I just walked over to the two plants, and I see no butterfly.  The miracle potential is fading.
I honestly know that I actually, over two days, saw two separate Chinese Swallowtail Butterflies:


So is Grand Mystery #4 a miracle or not?  I'll make a judgement in a few days.  At this point I remain merely befuddled.

No question that I place butterflies right up there with rainbows on the beauty scale.  Thus, I was joyously impressed last year when my 4-year old grandniece  named Sofia Pearl said she wanted to become a RAINBOW BUTTERFLY to my query on what she wanted to be when she grew up.

Butterflies might be fragile, but they are doing something right.  Deriving from moths, they began at the time of the dinosaurs, and there are 18,500 species.  I despise the moths living in Hawaii, for they are large, mostly dark (black witch) and dangerous-looking.

Turns out the largest moth, the Atlas (right), has almost a 11.5 inch wingspan, and looks like a butterfly.

When I travel the world, I usually stop by butterfly parks.  Clearly, I haven't been to enough, as I don't remember visiting any of the top ten in this country.  #1 is the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center in Callaway Gardens, located at Pine Mountain, Georgia, with 1,000 tropical butterflies.  USA Today had a world list, and, again, never been to any of them.

The Queen Alexandra's Birdwing  found in Papua New Guinea is the largest butterfly in the world.  How can male and female be so different, but the brown female is, thus, the biggest of all at 10 inches:


Here is a list of the most beautiful butterflies, and I show only one, the Blue Morpho:

Well, the Dow Jones again broke its all-time record, up 65 to 19,550.  Caterpillar is up 44% for the year, while Goldman Sachs has increased 34%.  Coke is down 5% for the year.

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