My “What a Butterfly Means” was published last week. I wrote it after watching a newly eclosed gulf fritillary butterfly on a passionvine at Warner Park Nature Center’s organic garden. The micro essay appears in Tributaries at The Fourth River, the journal produced by the MFA program in Creative Writing at Chatham University.
I’ll let you figure out what the essay itself “means” . . .
Both the butterfly and the host plant are species native here, and the plant is Tennessee’s own official State Wildflower.
Online, my micro essay was paired with what I am guessing is a stock photo of a passionflower, but it isn’t our passionflower. Ours is Passiflora incarnata.
We have a second native passionvine in Tennessee, too—Passiflora lutea—which is smaller and not as colorful, but just as delicious to hungry Gulf Fritillary caterpillars. I have both vines at home, and thus have a lot of Gulf Fritillaries.
The butterflies only lay eggs on passionvine, and the larvae only eat passionvine.
(This is what “butterfly host plant” means: a plant that hosts butterfly caterpillars.)
I wanted to post my own photos here, to show what the butterfly and plant really look like.
The flowers and the butterflies are each symbols for many different things and ideas, but they are replete with meaning in and of themselves, and in their relationships with each other.
I am passionate about passionflowers every summer.
See also my post on Passionvine Family Planning.