Butterflies: A short pictorial on love and biology

Have you ever seen a group of butterflies coalescing en masse, like this?

Ok, that’s an extreme example, taken – oddly enough – from an NPR story about Vladimir Nabokov. You know him as the author of “Lolita”, but he was also a renowned student of the butterfly.

Many of you, I suspect, are renowned students of the butterfly as well.

You can identify the species of butterflies when he knows to walk on the edge of the sidewalk closest to the traffic.

The butterflies when she sings to you.

Butterflies when he sends you flowers.

Butterflies when she brings you a homemade pie.

Butterflies after a time apart.

Real butterflies – suborder Papilionoidea – do occasionally congregate. On rocks with pools of rainwater. On moist soil. Along riverbeds.

Near the Narrows of the Harpeth in Cheatham County, Tenn., is where I took this picture:


Not as many as Nabokov’s South American example, but enough to make me stop and take a camera out of a water-proof bag.

According to butterfly experts, what they’re doing here is gathering sodium and amino acids from the moist soil. These are the males of the species, and they transfer the proteins to the females during reproduction. It makes for healthier eggs.

So while we humans tend to think of “butterflies” as a fluttering in the stomach when we’re attracted to someone in a romantic way, there’s actually another more practical way associate butterflies with eros.

For some of us, though, it feels more like this:


Just a couple of them, but such rare ones and with such IMPACT.

Or like this:


Untouchable. Possibly fleeting or possibly to return.



Maintained. Real at one point. Real, still, in a different form? Catalogued.

And, maybe my favorite:


Nearly hidden among other beauty. Pay attention. See it. Love it. Enjoy the world that nurtures it.


4 thoughts on “Butterflies: A short pictorial on love and biology

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