Poignant childhood memories can be mysterious and powerful things. They…
Butterflies seemed more abundant when I was a child. Statistics support my memory for most species, especially for the rapidly declining monarch butterflies.
So when a green comma butterfly (polygonia faunus, somewhat uncommon here) took a rest on my leg recently along North Vancouver’s Lynn Creek, I was reminded of how, somewhere around the age of ten or eleven, I collected butterflies and moths for fun. My collection, arranged neatly in a plywood and glass case, was both the envy and ridicule of my buddies. The geek and curious types found the collection fascinating. The jocks found it silly if not a bit effeminate.
Looking back now, I cringe at the cruelty of my hobby. I captured specimens with a crude net constructed from a coat hanger taped to a bamboo pole and a cheesecloth bag (hand sewn by my ever patient mother). The unfortunate victims, once nabbed, were placed into a “killing jar.” This was a morbid device that used cotton balls soaked in lighter fluid for quick dispatch by suffocation and poisoning. Some fun!
Overboard comic strip, one of my favorites, recently tackled the subject of butterfly “collecting” for science. I’m with the burly pirate on this one:
Oh, about the green comma butterfly. Its name comes from a row of green spots and a white, comma-shaped mark found on its wing underside. Green commas range across much of western North America. Hopefully, there’s one coming to a leg near you.