Dung Sipping Beauty

Question Mark Butterfly, Polygonia interrogationis

Nature is filled with metaphors and dichotomies. The question mark is both, in my mind. It is a great symbol of strength and beauty in late winter and early spring, a time that can present great challenges for delicate life forms.
The butterfly’s underwings are patterned perfectly for hiding among the gray details of winter. It renders itself nearly invisible by hanging upside down from dessicated winter leaves with its wings closed.

And now for the dichotomy. When I think of butterflies I tend to think of flowers, sweet smells and bright colorful days. But, this beauty functions perfectly amid no flowers, engulfed by pungent odors, and in a world of grays and browns! It can get food in a time of year when no nectar is available. It does not need a flower’s nectar for food. It can dance about the woods in February, before the flowers come alive. It gets its sustenance from the waste and injury of others….the minerals in animal dung, and the nutritious gift of tree sap weeping from wounds. Rotting fruit, dung, and sap are its preference, and only in the absence of these will it sip nectar!