Blog: Mother Earth Heals
by Liora Leah

Butterfly Visitor

Last night, a butterfly, perhaps disoriented from the wildfires, flew into my house and visited for a while.

Date:   10/22/2007 3:13:33 PM   ( 14 y ) ... viewed 2093 times

In this photo, it looks as though I'm pinching the butterfly's wing; actually, my thumb is pressed against my fingers and there is a "space" where the butterfly is lying quietly within my hand, "unpinned" as it were. Photo by Liora Leah, 10-22-2007

Last night around 11:00pm I went outside to push shut some stubborn windows because the house was filling up with the smell of smoke and soot from the wildfires in Orange County, California.

This butterfly was beating its wings frantically against the back screen door, then against the porch light, so I turned off the light so it wouldn't "fry" itself. The butterfly flew around my head a few times, close enough to brush my face, then settled back onto the screen door. After I finished with the windows, I opened the back door to go into the house and the butterfly flew right in!

Looking around, I couldn't find the butterfly anywhere. I went to bed and forgot about it, until 10:30 this morning---I spotted it in the kitchen, on the wall just under the skylight. It stayed unmoving while I got a ladder and climbed up to get a better look. It still didn't move when I went down and up a couple more times, first with my camera and then with a ruler to measure it's wingspan (4.5 inches from tip to tip). I think this is a giant swallowtail butterfly, the same species as the other butterfly photos I took in August; this one is missing a piece of it's wing "tail".

I spooked it by getting too close, and the insect fluttered around for a while, trying to wedge itself onto a little cleft just beneath the skylight. I put my finger next to it and the butterfly climbed on, and I was able to move it away from the cleft (if it had wedged itself in there too far, I wouldn't have been able to get it out.) but then it fluttered some more and ended up back on the part of the wall where I originally saw it, beating its wings frantically.

Putting my finger up to it again, the butterfly climbed on, and I moved it away from the wall, this time cupping it gently in one hand. After it let go of my finger, I put my other hand around it so it couldn't fly away. I kept telling the butterfly that I wasn't going to hurt it; it stayed very still with it's wings outstretched in my hands. Whenever it started to flutter I said to it "It's OK sweetie, Mommy won't hurt you," and it would stop fluttering (yeah, I know, kinda dumb thing to say to it--with a tone of voice like you'd use with an infant.)

So there I was, standing on top of the ladder with a butterfly in my hands and no way to climb down safely. Letting my left hand drop, I was able to take two photos of the butterfly in my cupped right hand; it continued to stay very still. Then I climbed down the ladder with the butterfly in the one hand, and made my way over to the back door. As soon as we got close to the door, the butterfly started fluttering like mad, so I opened the door and screen as quickly as I could, opened my hand, and the butterfly flew out.

I don't know why the butterfly acted like it did. I was very surprised to see it so late at night, never having seen a butterfly active at night time (what do they usually do at night? they must be dormant and resting--do insects sleep?); maybe it was disoriented from the ashes and soot and heat in the air from the fires. Never had a butterfly fly into the house before, either. Maybe because I'd turned off the outside light, and the lights were on in the house, it made its way inside towards the light. When I found it this morning, it was resting on the wall in the lightest part of the house. When I got to the back door to let it out, a lot of sunlight was coming through the glass on the back door. So, the theory is, the butterfly acted as moths do, and headed towards the light.

Why the butterfly was "awake" at night is still a mystery. And why did it calm whenever I spoke reassuringly to it? I like to think the butterfly "understood" me and knew I was going to be gentle with it. I like to think it was the same butterfly that stayed still for hours on end, sitting on a succulent plant, wings open, while I completed the "Yard Notes" stories about my dad in August on the first anniversary of his death. If not the same butterfly, then a different one, but still a messenger from Spirit, come to tell me that everything would turn out alright.

Photos: Bugs Bugs Bugs

Yard Notes

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