Friday, August 19, 2011

"To A Butterfly . . ."

  “I've watched you now a full half-hour; Self-poised upon that yellow flower And, little Butterfly! Indeed I know not if you sleep or feed. How motionless! - Not frozen seas more motionless! And then what joy awaits you, when the breeze hath found you out among the trees, and calls you forth again! . . .”  
 A Quote from “To a Butterfly” 
by William Wordsworth (1801) 

There are estimated 28,000 species of butterflies known worldwide. To put that in perspective, if you gave yourself one second per butterfly it would take you nearly 8 hours to mention them all by name. Then again, how fast can you say ‘Celastrina Argiolus Britannia’?

A butterfly's wingspan can range in size from a tiny five mm all the way up to a foot long!

The smallest known butterfly is the Western Pygmy Blue. Its wingspan is between 5-7 millimeters wide. How big is that? Well, a dime (the smallest of the American coins) is 17mm wide. That would mean two, or even three, of these tiny butterflies could sit side by side on it.

How big is the biggest butterfly? Just the body of the Queen Alexandra's Birdwing can have a length of 8 cm (that's 3 inches), but their wingspan can be as big as 31 cm, which equals to an entire foot in length. That is the size of an average dinner plate, or better yet, a woman’s shoe—size 14!

But why are they called butterflies? Are they drawn to butter like horseflies are drawn to horses?

There are several stories circulating. The Anglo-Saxons called them buttorfleoge’, an Old English compound word meaning butter and, you guessed it, fly. This makes sense considering a common butterfly in that country is the brimstone butterfly, which just happens to be yellow--the color of butter.

Now legend has it that witches would turn into winged creatures at night to steal milk and butter. Hmm ... If flying was a gift I possessed, yes, I would definitely use it to steal me some butter!  But then again, perhaps butterflies are attracted to butter considering in some  places they are called ‘milk thieves’ or ‘lickers of milk’.

The butterfly has been the inspiration of poets and writers for centuries.

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

“I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free.”  ~Charles Dickens
"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower." ~Hans Christian Anderson

You can find many inspirational butterfly-themed greeting cards at Greeting Card Universe 
that cover topics from a simple "Thinking of You" to "Congratulations On Your Sobriety".

Greeting Cards Courtesy of: 
BowNRanch, Sandra Rose Designs, JMDykstra Photography, I Love Cuttables, and Karen's Kreations

If you enjoy reading about butterflies, here is more to inspire you:

A Bit of Fun with Colorful Butterflies
“Ever since I can remember, I've been intrigued with the beauty of butterflies…”
Sunshine’s Creative Explorations, Donna Lorello

The Delicate Life of a Butterfly
“So you have a great love for butterflies?”
Sheryl Kasper Card Store, Sheryl Kasper

“I have noticed lots of butterflies lately...”
Dragonfire Graphics, Betsy Bush

“I’ve watched you now a full half-hour...”

Greeting Card Universe & Butterfly Changes
“I started this blog as a way to promote greeting cards...”
Janet Lee Designs, Janet Palaggi

Papillon: The Butterfly Dog
“The big dog in the small body...”
DogBreedz, Peggy Mundell

“The beauty and wonder of Monarch butterflies inspired me...”
It’s a Beautiful World, Catherine Sherman

Good Luck
“A most unusual thing happened this week when I was gardening...”
Painted Cottage, Judith Cheng

“Imagine, Dare, Do!”
Naquiaya’s Cards, Naquaiya


  1. This is a lovely story. Isn't it funny, I have just been reading Charles Dickens and the life of Hans Christian Anderson. Butterflies are nothing short of little miracles and they have inspired many poets and artists over time. Your photographs of butterflies are beautiful.

  2. Lovely post, Tracie! The images and cards are thoughtfully chosen too.

  3. Very nicely done, Tracie!

    And particularly interesting about the Anglo Saxon source of the name! Times must have changed though - I don't think I've ever seen a yellow butterfly.

  4. I love the stories you chose to tell. Very nice. Great photos of course as well!

  5. nice research..great px & writing!

  6. Great stories Tracie, love the pics, cards, and poems by the poets. Great job!

  7. Interesting post, Tracie. I had no idea a butterfly could be so small or so BIG! Your photos are beautiful (no surprise there ... you are a very talented photographer)!


  8. Wow - a FOOT wide?! I'd love to see that one! Love your photography (as usual!) and your post was a fun read. Congrats on winning the Lightning Round!

  9. Awesome post, Tracie! And thank you for including one of my cards. :) Also, congratulations for the win!! :)

    I'm going to print your informative piece off and send it to my aunt who recently had to move to a nursing home 3 hours away. :( She's been feeling down about the move, but she loves butterflies and I know this will cheer her up. :)

    Thanks again!