I was working in the yard last Saturday afternoon and had the overhead garage door open because I was going in and out with clippings and to get tools.
When I was finished and walked into the garage to put everything away, I heard a fluttering sound. I looked toward the sound and saw that it was coming from the top of one of the windows, where there was a beautiful large butterfly fluttering against the window, trying to get out. I have no idea what kind it was — it had markings that reminded me of a Monarch, but it was more beige or light gold with black in its markings rather than the orange and black I associate with Monarchs.
My first “new photographer” thought was GO GET THE CAMERA!! I rushed into the house, grabbed the camera and rushed back out. But I was disappointed to see that when I returned to the window the butterfly had not only quit fluttering, but had folded its wings together and was just sitting at the very top of the window. No longer a picture there. But, my next thought was, had he given up? It must have been my imagination, but it even seemed to me that I could see him breathing, like he was trying to catch his breath. Then a fly that was also in the window walked very close to the butterfly, in fact it looked from where I stood like it had actually brushed against the butterfly’s head, but the butterfly barely moved. I don’t know much of anything about butterflies, but I took that as a very bad sign and thought, “Oh no! He’s giving up! I have to do something!”
I needed to somehow “catch” the butterfly and take it outside! Several problems — how to get to it way up in the window and how to catch and release it, without injuring it. Think quick. I didn’t know how long I had!
I rushed into the house and looked in the closet where we keep the cleaning supplies for “butterfly catching” equipment.
I grabbed the little utility step ladder. I thought if I stood on the very top of it I could probably reach the butterfly. I’ve heard that you must never touch a butterfly with your hands. I have no idea if that’s true, but I wasn’t going to take a chance. Not a hard decision, because I don’t think I could have reached it with my hands anyway.
Next, I looked for something to capture him in. A butterfly net would have been nice, but I had nothing like that, but the mental picture of one made me think of an old wire mesh colander I have way in the back of a cabinet, because I never use it any more. (Garage Sale fodder? Maybe. But, that’s another post.) So, I got it out.
But now, how was I going to “sweep” him into the colander without injuring him? I returned to the cleaning closet. I immediately dismissed a broom as too hard. And then I saw what might be perfect for the job — on the bottom shelf was the perfect “butterfly pushing” tool — the new, improved version of a feather duster — a micro-fiber duster.
So, I rushed back out into the garage with my “equipment” — the step ladder, the colander and the duster. The butterfly hadn’t moved.
I set up the step ladder as close to the window as I could get. (Like most garages, we have lots of stuff sitting on the floor around the edges of ours.)
Then, holding the colander and duster, I climbed to the very top step (which you’re technically not supposed to stand on because you might “tip”). It would have been nice to be a little closer, but I didn’t know if I had time to move stuff from in front of the window, so I “made do.” Carefully standing on the very top step, I extended my arm holding the colander toward the butterfly. As soon as I placed it over him, he let go of the window and moved to the mesh of the colander. Perfect! Then I took the duster and gently placed its fibers against the butterfly. When I drew the whole thing back to me, I was pretty sure I had him in there, but was afraid to move anything to look. Then I did a little shaky descent down the step ladder without holding on, because both hands were occupied with the colander and the handle of the duster. When I got to the bottom, I walked outside, removed the duster and at the same time raised the colander skyward, and the beautiful butterfly flew away! Hooray!!! I like to think that he’s out there now, enjoying his new lease on life, but hopefully a little smarter about flying into buildings that he then can’t figure out how to get out of!
So, instead of getting to photograph a beautiful butterfly, I got to save a beautiful butterfly. Without a doubt — a great trade-off.
And, while I didn’t get a photograph of the butterfly — the Butterfly Catching Crew did agree to pose for a group shot before returning to their normal duties. Good work guys!