For The Love Of A Butterfly

“We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.” –Carl Sagan


I am obsessed with keeping this butterfly alive. You see while Dirt Man and I visited our local botanical gardens we watched (and he filmed) some butterflies emerge from their chrysalises. He came home and brought some in from the garden (placed a netting over a parley plant to house them) hoping to film the process again.  He just mentioned the other night how he supposed they must be remaining dormant until the spring.  Last night I caught a flutter through the corner of my eye. A butterfly had emerged and was rooting at the netting. I don’t know how long she had been there, but her wings were already dry and extended. As luck would have it, Dirt man is out of town. I was saddened he wasn’t here to see it but I even more concerned about keeping the butterfly confined.

Thinking it needed freedom and fresh air, I took the butterfly outside. Then I became concerned it was too cold. I didn’t want to inadvertently kill her. Yes, our swallowtail is a girl. She stayed in the same position in the bed of parsley, so my son brought her in and placed her back in the netting. I was still worried about her being cramped so I made her a temporary home. I found a clear plastic container, punched holes throughout it, put in some dirt with a parsley plant, a twig, and a small dish of water.

Fall makes it a difficult time to do the natural thing for the butterfly. My goals are to keep her alive and in an environment suited to the needs of a butterfly. I’m really not quite sure what to do with her. Any suggestions? She moves around, but has not attempted to fly. I’m hoping she will still be here for Dirt Man to see when he gets home.


They say if you name something you have to keep it…what do you think of Emily?

26 thoughts on “For The Love Of A Butterfly

  1. Emily is lovely! You could make her some nectar–sugar water. Dissolve 1 Tablespoon of sugar in 10 oz. of hot water, allow to cool. They are used to gathering it from flowers, so I don’t know what you might have on hand to put it on or in. Refrigerate unused nectar to keep it fresh.

  2. A friend of mine that lives in Virginia Beach has a small butterfly garden as well as a friend who is very into butterflies. I just sent her a message, trying to put her in touch with you. I’m hoping that if she doesn’t have the answer, she’ll know where to find it.

  3. Emily is lovely! You have such a big heart. I think it’s wonderful that you’re trying to keep her alive. I hope the Virginia Beach butterfly gardener has some answers. Do swallowtails migrate for the winters?

  4. I think ‘Emily’ fits her to a T! She’s just breath-taking, and I, like you, hope Dirt Man gets to see her. I wasn’t aware butterflies hatched at this time of year. I hope you can find answers to your questions!

  5. Good luck! She’s a beauty – now what you need is this lovely atrium with trees, shrubs and year-round flowers, and she could start her own colony. Do butterflies need mates to reproduce? Obviously, I remember none of the biology I learned in school.

  6. Emily is a great name. Love the photo, Susan. I’m not sure in these cases what is the best thing to do. My dad always said,”Let nature take its course.” Sometimes that darn hard to do. Good luck with Emily. 🙂

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