A ReWilded Getaway in the Eastern Free State filled with beautiful butterflies.
A King and a Joker ----- A Lady and a Leopard ----- A Footman and a Donkey - what do they have in common? Look at the pictures and see - for they are all beautiful butterflies and just one moth.
They neither sting nor do they bite , silently they swim through the air going about their business and ours.
They all have wings and fly FREELY ...all can be found here at Amohela ho Spitskop Conservancy along with some 30 other species ...aerial jewels each unique and colourful, as silently they go about their business.
Butterflies and Moths are "Natures' Couriers" carrying messages of Love, Joy and Hope from plant to plant.
Have you ever seen a sad butterfly? - they make us smile when we see them .
Drifting from flower to flower and using their long proboscis they pollinate,each receiving nectar as a reward.
That wonderful tongue is reeled in and out, rather like an inertia seat-belt in a car, and with unfailing accuracy they are able to target each flower .
Butterflies and Moths are both Lepidoptera.....most people experience Moths as being nighttime creatures but there are many daytime ( diurnal) flying moths equally as beautiful as the familiar butterflies.
The smallest South African butterfly is the Dwarf Blue, just 12mm of wing-span whilst the largest we have is the Table Mountain Beauty which measures some 75mm wing-span.
Those beautiful wings are composed of countless scales made from "chitin" ( a carbohydrate made from sugar molecules) each scale is anchored by a miniscule ball and socket joint....Divine Engineering at its best !
Modern science tells us that Butterfly Black is as black as it gets (over 99%)...attempts by humans to match this fall short. It also appears that the wings are not solid but honeycombed .
Some are resident all year round and others choose to visit us for a short while.... African Monarchs and Painted Ladies are abundant and they can be found across the world ....the Monarchs in particular conduct spectacular migrations in the USA/Mexico .
A short while ago we were treated to a spectacular 'migration" ... it lasted 6 days and we had literally millions of butterflies here. They were mainly Brown veined Whites that were accompanied by at least a dozen other species. Their journey began in the Karoo heading east and northwards and wherever they went people were simply amazed at the sight ...it has been reported that they numbered more than a billion and this was the largest butterfly 'migration" since 1966. What an unforgettable experience for everyone lucky enough to see them.
Butterflies and Moths appear to be happy in the company of other species, I personally have not witnessed any disagreements even over a food source.
Sadly in Europe their numbers are diminishing rapidly ...several causes have been put forward the reduction in open land now taken for housing etc, the removal of plants used for larvae butterfly food, but clearly a major problem is the use of poison sprays, domestic, agricultural and industrial on a large scale has finally taken its toll along with many other insects ...useful and otherwise.
Here in South Africa we have the opportunity to preserve what we still have ...some 600 species, many endemic to ourselves. To have Butterflies and Moths just for their beauty is reason enough but we also have their 'good works' as a bonus...they are major pollinators.
Surely then it behoves us to treat them better ....to allow them a little space, a clean and fresh environment.
A world without Butterflies will be a very dark space indeed...totally unthinkable .
Our farmers are hardworking and they know their profession intimately, a lazy farmer is soon gone. It is true to say that without them producing food ...none of us would be here. However we need them to call for more friendly products .....less harmful to humans, creatures and insects alike. There are other natural solutions to some of their problems whereby poisons need not be used.
.A UNITED call from the farmers backed by support from a concerned public WILL make the producers of harmful products rethink.and react.....for the betterment of our world and all who dwell upon it.
The manufacturers must accept the challenge and create SAFE products that no longer cause harm to our environment or lifestyle or innocent lifeforms .....WE ARE ALL IN IT TOGETHER.
Text & Photographs- Allen Jones.