Oh, the butterfly. The tiny winged creature that has infiltrated our culture, bejeweled our hair in the late 90’s, and occupied the ankles of young women for generations. Their delicate nature has inspired teen girls to doodle until their hearts are content and dads to swoon over their dainty kisses. The symbol of new life and transformation that has been used in art and literature for hundreds of years has become prissy, clichéd and dated.
The butterfly needs a comeback. The real deal is much more fascinating than any symbolic, cartoonish representation. Think about it, have you ever seen someone shriek at the sight of a butterfly, or even worse, swat at it with a newspaper? There’s a reason why even the most squeamish, insect-fearing individuals can tolerate, and even enjoy, a butterfly floating through the air or landing nearby.
Metamorphosis is a remarkable wonder of nature. Admit it, the fact that a fat and squishy caterpillar can wrap itself in a hard protective shell only to emerge weeks later as a tiny, weightless creature that can fly is astonishing. No wonder it’s symbolic of new beginnings.
Butterflies don’t just fly like other insects, they float. Flitting and fluttering between colorful blooms, they put on a show for anyone with a watchful eye, and play hard-to-get with anyone who has a camera.
Butterflies live their adult life gliding through the air, showing off the striking colors and patterns of its wings to attract mates or warn predators—sounds a bit like our fashion choices, no? Over 100,000 species of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) populate the world on every continent except Antarctica.
But who would think that butterflies could ensure our food supply? Besides their aesthetically pleasing presence, butterflies play an important role in our eco-system as pollinators. Through the transportation of pollen via butterflies, bees, and birds, plants are able to produce the fruits and vegetables we harvest for food. And if ensuring a healthy diet isn’t enough, let us not forget that one species of Lepidoptera produces the thread we use to make luxurious silk.
Consider the butterfly in new way by checking out the real thing. Every spring, thousands of tiny winged creatures invade Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens for the annual exhibition Blooms & Butterflies. Over 200 exotic species from Asia, South America and the Pacific Islands take flight in the Pacific Island Water Garden, where they enjoy the warm and tropical climate of the indoor garden as they fly freely among visitors and feed on nectar from colorful blooms.
Images courtesy of Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
Blooms & Butterflies runs March 10 – September 3. Visit www.fpconservatory.org for more information about the exhibition and related activities. The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is open daily from 10am – 5pm, and Wednesdays from 10am to 8pm.
GCAC Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus – in partnership with the Columbus Arts Marketing Association, a professional development and networking association of arts marketers. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at the arts in Columbus.