Butterflies, Butterflies, Butterflies.

January 27th, 2015

Butterflies, Butterflies, Butterflies.

A boom in the butterfly population in southeast Queensland, Australia has got people talking and seeing a bountiful display of colors fluttering across the horizon. Queensland Museum’s director of entomology, Dr Christine Lambkin, has collected reports showing the largest numbers of butterflies in 40 years in some species.

“We have seen large numbers of butterflies in south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales, mainly because we’ve got both migrations but we have also got emergence,” she said. “So we have got large numbers of all sorts of insects but particularly noticeable are the butterflies. I am seeing numbers of one a second … but I am not sure how long that kept up for. But yes, definitely very large numbers of certain species at the moment.”

The increase in number is being attributed to a combination of rain and heat which provided perfect breeding conditions for the insects. “We have had a long extended dry period that has been broken by good rains at the right time of the year,” Lambkin explained. “So we have got the warmth as well as the rain and that is what has caused the adults to break the aestivation, which is the insect hibernation and emerge in numbers.

Presumably, butterflies help gauge environmental conditions. They also pollinate plants (much like bees and other insects). This pollination process is important to one-third of food produced for human consumption which has become dependent on native pollinators. Additionally, butterflies serve as food source for birds and other wildlife.

Butterflies also carry significant and similar meanings and symbolism in various cultures. In Japanese culture, butterflies are seen as carriers of souls. A superstition maintains that if a butterfly enters your home, the person whom you most love is coming to see you. However, large numbers of butterflies are viewed as bad omens. Similarly, the ancient Greek word for “butterfly” is ψυχή (psȳchē), which can be translated into “soul” or “mind.” In some cultures, butterflies symbolize rebirth and good luck.


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