Friday, June 25, 2010

Vanessa Atalanta


The first Red Admiral (Vanessa Atalanta) spotted in the garden this morning, though the photo here was not taken by me. A little early in the season to arrive from their migration I would have thought, usually associating this butterfly with the month of September more than late June. However upon reference it is described as, 'a strong migrant, spreading northwards from the Mediterranean region each summer to breed. Adults hibernate and a few survive the winter in Britain'. It would have to be a strong insect to have survived last winter, the coldest for several decades!

Butterflies flit across the pages of 'The Garden of Cyrus', Browne, the keen lepidopterist observing, that the colour of the Caterpillar will shew again in the Butterfly, with some latitude is allowable. Nor can he omit the enquiry how Butterflies and breezes move their four wings from his speculations, even likening butterflies to flowers in the form of the Butterfly bloomes of leguminous plants.

It's also of interest to note that the Ancient Greek word for "butterfly" is ψυχή (psychē), which translates as 'soul', but also as 'mind'. There is of course a wealth of symbolism in literature throughout the world, both ancient and modern which alludes to the transitory, migratory nature of the butterfly, or as it was known as in the seventeenth century, the 'breeze-fly', being likened to the soul.

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