- Gory Details
Butterflies Behaving Badly: What They Don’t Want You to Know
Butterflies have had us fooled for centuries. They bobble around our gardens, all flappy and floppy, looking so pretty with their shimmering colors. We even write odes to them:
Thou spark of life that wavest wings of gold,
Thou songless wanderer mid the songful birds,
With Nature’s secrets in thy tints unrolled
Through gorgeous cipher, past the reach of words,
Yet dear to every child
In glad pursuit beguiled,
Living his unspoiled days mid flowers and flocks and herds!
—Ode To A Butterfly, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson
But butterflies have a dark side. For one thing, those gorgeous colors: They’re often a warning. And that’s just the beginning. All this time, butterflies been living secret lives that most of us never notice.
Take this zebra longwing, Heliconius charithonia. It looks innocent enough.