The Butterfly Month
THE BUTTERFLY MONTH
"FLUTTERBYS," the children call them, and it seems a far more suitable name than the one they usually go by. When the hay fields are cut, and the meadow flowers are no longer available, the butterflies come more and more into the gardens in search of the honey-bearing flowers, from which they sip their faery-like meal. They flutter by all the long perennial borders, and in and out among the annual beds, and surely no winged creatures fly with so little sense of direction or purpose as these gaudy-winged insects of our summer days.
When we wish to describe some vain and brainless pleasure-seeking woman, no name seems to fit her like that of .. butterfly." For here is an insect that lives for the moment, is dressed in clothes as beautiful as they are unserviceable, for the least rain or rough wind damages them beyond repair-a creature who takes no thought for the morrow, and lays up no provender against bad times. It makes no plans for its day beforehand, it has no family to care for, and it has none of those virtues that we used to be told belonged to the bee and the ant-proper habits, that seemed so dull to our youthful minds-such as industry and thought for the morrow.
Just now the Tortoiseshell is the most prominent of all, for the new broods are hatched. If it were not such a common insect we would think much more of its splendid red, black and yellow dress. How beautifully these somewhat crude colours blend, and the little touches of bright Wedgwood blue are exactly the right thing in the right place to give it that jewel like appearance I Yet, when the Tortoiseshell shuts its gaudy wings for a moment when the sun goes in, it becomes for all the world in effect a dead and half shrivelled leaf, a relic of last autumn's storms.
In the fields the Meadow Browns are far more numerous than the Tortoiseshell. They are somewhat sombre insects, dressed in shades of reddish brown, and when they settle and draw back their upper wings into the shelter of the lower ones, they are wonderfully inconspicuous as they hang on some withering cock' s-foot grass.
On heaths, the beautiful little Common Blue, with its friend, the Small Copper, glitter in the hot sunshine like small, living jewels. That beautiful creature, the Large Copper, has become extinct in Great Britain during the last few years, but the exquisite small one is, fortunately, one of our commonest butterflies. The Small Heath is another common insect; a little larger than the last species, and of a reddish dust colour. It is to be found most abundantly in dry, rocky places, and about the sides of heathery mountains.
Nearly every species has its own favourite habitat, and it is in the warm, moist places that we will find the Ringlet. with its dark sooty wings, decorated with the little pale yellow ring on each wing, from which it takes its name. It loves the boggy places, where the meadow-sweet grows, and will flutter back and forwards from horsetails to iris and from iris to willowherb all day long in the sunshine-a delightful place, which it shares amicably with the swiftly-flying dragon-flies. .
In the dry laneways the Wall Butterfly rises and settles again, spending more of its time in rest than most of its kind; and in the woods, the Wood Argus flits in and out, but never far from the shady green ways of the wood, for it is one of the few butterflies that does not like unalleviated sunshine.These are for the most part the smaller butterflies. Later on in the summer come the giants of their race the Red Admirals, the Peacocks, and the gorgeous Fritillaries. Sufficient for the day. The pageant of Nature unrolls itself slowly, day by day and week by week, and perhaps it is well for us that we can neither hurry nor retard its progress.
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