The Ant and the Butterfly





Recently I watched a pack (okay, I know that’s not the right collective term…) of red ants devour a dead butterfly. They did this so subtly it looked like the butterfly was still alive (it wasn’t) and just doing what butterflies do. But this was nature doing what nature does in another form.


Every Summer without fail (win/win?) I get at least one red ant bite, usually on my feet. And every year I try to avoid this Summer ritual, but some things it seems…………………


What is with the latest trend in my life of bizarre interruptions to my post writing… which I then include in my posts. Is there a message in this which I am missing and therefore causing it to repeat. Or is this just a new ritual.


As I’m writing this… outside with those things known as pen and paper, while basking in a bit of Sun in between this and that… a beige butterfly has landed on my thigh. It thought better of this initial position of choice and quickly relocated to the writing pad, examining the ink. Then it thought better of that position and moved onto the fingers holding the pen, its tongue (is it a tongue?) unrolling itself to examine if my flesh was sweet.


We stayed like this for a few seconds which seemed like minutes until I could no longer stand the frozen moment and moved. It flitted away, on to other pastures. I wonder how long it would have stayed there had I not moved.


I have no photographic proof of this moment. This moment which by the time I publish this post will be long gone, soon to be completely forgotten as though it never happened. Perhaps sometimes it is best if no one believes us…


However I will still recall (for a while) this Summer’s red ant bite because part of my foot is swollen and bears the mark of it. And since it itches like… I think the term is… crazy, I’ll probably wake myself up scratching the itch until it bleeds. Which is really more proof than I actually need that this particular moment happened.


This red ant bite is the result of a fluke rather than a logical process. Usually my red ant bites are due to a foot crossing a boundary into red ant territory and feeling it. No trespassing, Human! This time however my garden hoover (otherwise known as a lawn mower) blew a random red ant onto my foot and in its panic at being chosen for such an unique experience in the world of ant experiences, it bit me.


Poor little thing… with an awesome sting.


I flicked it off… no, I did not kill it for hurting me… I tend to only have that reaction to humans who hurt me, the desire to kill the offender that is. And even then I never follow through. But I’m never sure if my reason for not following through is because of my nature or because of the penalties incurred for following through on such things.


I’ve watched CSI and such… there is just so much to consider when committing murder or a killing that it all seems as though it is far too much effort and hard work which doesn’t necessarily guarantee the wanted results. Or at least the wanted results may be a different type of wanted to the one imagined.


You can however kill with impunity lifeforms known as insects. You can kill an ant with no penalty or even a need for conscience to interfere.


Yet, for the most part… I choose not to kill insects, even the ones I don’t like who sometimes really test my belief in the power of choice and free will and such, or otherwise.


But I am a carnivore, so life does get killed to feed me. But if I wasn’t a carnivore it wouldn’t mitigate the killing of life. The amount of lifeforms killed to grow vegetables and other vegan supplements… but we don’t count insects, and other lifeforms of that sort, do we when we talk about taking a life? Their lives are so short compared to ours that we… adjust our thinking to suit our thinking… and needs… of the moment.


Still… perhaps nature shows us our nature, and shows me my nature.


But what does it show?







  1. I reserve the right to kill spiders that are in my home that are causing me distress. If I was tiny and entered their home, they’d kill me! But I try not to kill anything else. When I was a child I used to love placing various insects at the entrance to ants nests and watching them slowly get killed and devoured. It was like watching a miniature version of a pack of lions killing and devouring a wilderbeest


    • I usually just shout at spiders, because they hang around on the ceiling or on curtains and don’t seem to catch flies. Spiders are supposed to catch flies, aren’t they? Flies get killed in my house because they have no concept of personal space or at least their concept of it isn’t one which I am willing to be Zen about.

      Shouting is reserved for medium to small house spiders. Those giant house spiders don’t really last very long in my house either. I’ve learned a lot from watching horror films.

      I used to enjoy playing with ants’ nests too as a child. I used to like to watch how they dealt with obstacles, either by blocking the path of one of their lines or placing something on the entrance to their nest. One time I inadvertently became an obstacle in their path and did not realise it until they all decided to climb over me. I stopped messing with ants after that 😉

      Thank you for sharing!


  2. I have no idea what it shows, but I think butterflies have a magical quality…and to have one land on your leg is something else. Enjoyed reading this very much.


    • Thank you 🙂

      When I first moved to the rural countryside from the city, the amount of insects, especially in Summer, freaked me out a bit, even though I had grown up partly in the countryside. I guess I’d forgotten how to enjoy the little things in life. My appreciation of the diversity of lifeforms in my garden coincides with my appreciation of the diversity within my own nature, particularly the things which used to ‘bug’ me about myself. I’m gentler on myself and as I became gentler on myself I became gentler on things like insects. I’m still very un-gentle when it comes to horseflies… and there are parts of myself which also experience my un-gentle side.

      That’s one of the things which I got from this moment. Of course there is the fact that the butterflies around here consider humans in the Sun to be excellent landing pads, but it’s usually the bigger and fancier butterflies which do that, they’re more aggressive and territorial. This little butterfly was one of those which usually stays in the shade as it’s a woodland variety and avoids human contact. It was an intriguing moment, especially when it sat on my fingers and tasted them, then looked at me as though to say – Your flavour is not so bad, I think I’ll stick around a bit.

      Life can be very amusing!


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