Jumping to Conclusions


4th of July, 2010

     This Independence Day,  my wife, daughter, and I spent the day with dear friends.  Pool time, cook-out at a home that happens to be situated so that the back deck pool area commands a perfect view of the fireworks display that is presented by the Richland Country Club every year.  No traffic to fight or parking dilemmas to solve. The simple freedom to swim, listen to music, eat, watch the television coverage of the Washington, D.C celebration, switch over to the New York show, then sit on the deck and watch the Nashville/Richland fireworks extravaganza from the comfort of a chaise lounge.  

          Early in the afternoon, as the scent of lantana was wafting (never pictured myself using the word ‘wafting’) through the air, pool-side, this Yellow Swallowtail was having, what seemed to me, a wonderful time flitting from flower to flower imbibing  the sweet refreshing nectar. (First conclusion jumped to…for all I know, this particular butterfly was swarmed by the stress of familial obligations to ‘bring home the bacon nectar’ for a spouse and screaming kids…though it’s hard for me to imagine a butterfly screaming…Still, it may not have been a wonderful time, at all) 

     I’m not sure that I have ever taken the time, or had the inclination to photograph a butterfly.  I love butterflies, but they are one of nature’s citizens whose ‘essence’, to me,  is un-photographable.  Sure, there are great pictures of butterflies but, like a stampede of wild horses galloping through a red dust  Western canyon at sunset, some things are better captured as a feeling, an observation for the mind and heart, rather than a two-dimensional rendering. 

I had my camera with me, and since the advent of digital photography, it’s so much easier to take pictures of anything and everything.  The delete button is readily available and the ‘film’ is perfectly inexpensive.

I crept slowly to the lantana and started recording.

      We all have heard various descriptions of the ‘violence of nature’, ‘the circle of life’, ‘the survival of the fittest’, etc.  Somehow, those concepts seemed far removed from the halcyon peregrinations of Papilio machaon. (Now THAT was a proboscis full!)     

     I  enjoyed following what seemed to be a perfectly peaceful butterfly endeavor, and then, to my horror, and so quickly that I didn’t trip the shutter in time, a large red Wasp flew in from underneath, coiled its’ body, unsheathed its’ dagger and struck!

     The Swallowtail was knocked upwards and then proceeded to leave the scene in a strangely erratic flight pattern that was not at all consistent with its’ previous style. (Second conclusion…The Swallowtail was hit and dying as it escaped, its’ body going through the last unconscious neural auto-pilot control…?) 

     I later searched and never found ‘the body’ and it did not return to the lantana. So, legally speaking, I don’t have a case!  (I have read that a hummingbird that is stung while robbing a wasp’s nest of larvae, is knocked senseless, but recovers fairly quickly.  A butterfly?….I don’t know.)

     That’s when I became a vigilante! The wasp sidled up to the bar where the Swallowtail had been, to finish off his drink, but didn’t even get the chance to slam his empty glass on the counter before my cocked and loaded middle finger flicked his devilishly red body ten yards towards oblivion. (Now, before you say, “You shouldn’t have done that! The wasp has as much right to its’ true nature as the butterfly does!” I will say, “I would do it again!!”  I just don’t like wasps!  Sorry! Don’t care a whole lot for spiders, either, though I’m fascinated by their architecture…and ticks, fleas, chiggers and mosquitos?  Fuggedaboudit!!!!  Squash ’em!  No love lost!)

     Anyway, the major conclusion I jumped to was that this thuggish Red Wasp had ‘murdered’ an innocent, beautiful butterfly that was minding its’ own business.  If there is a Entomologist available, I would very much like to know a few things.

     Are wasps just ‘jerks’?…Bad childhoods?…Ingrained abusive attitude?…bad karma?  What exactly IS their purpose? Or do I have it all wrong?  Was the butterfly, unbeknownst to me, getting what he deserved? Are they enemies to wasps who hide behind their colorful trappings while secretly wreaking havoc somehow on Polistes annularis?

     So often the beautiful (which is, of course, an extremely subjective evaluation and description) get a free ride in our minds, while others are the victims of our sometimes misplaced prejudices.  I can imagine that there are those who are ‘taken’ by the compact aerodynamic beauty of the wasp. (You ‘wasp-lover!…)  …the eye of the beholder…

I try to clear my eyes daily so that I might behold the beauty of all, ‘tho, alas, it seems that only idealism is 20/20.

     I will rethink my conclusions if someone can inform me of my wrongful judgement.  Until then, I’m going to side with the butterflies, at least when it comes to pitting them against wasps.

p.s. There are a couple more photos from the day at http://www.flickr.com/photos/44475453@N03/sets/


~ by rkpowers on July 5, 2010.

6 Responses to “Jumping to Conclusions”

  1. Great photo! Your writing is absolutely spellbinding. I very much enjoyed the photo and the story behind it.


  2. Stunningly beautiful photo. It appears that you must write with a thesarus at your finger tips. I really enjoy reading your blog.


    • Ha ha…maybe I just picked up the love of language from my Dad. I mean, don’t you use ‘wafting’ on a regular basis? Actually, I came by THAT one simply through the years and love of reading…Now, “halcyon peregrinations..”? Guilty! I just liked that better than “…calmly flitting from bush to bush…”


  3. Wow! Really nice pics, keep up the good work 😀
    Be sure to check out the compact cameras website for more information, products and reviews on all kinds of cameras


  4. Then again….maybe it was the Yellowtail that was the bully and the wasp was a hired thug! You know, some innocent Tomato being decimated by the hungry little bastard Yellowtail larvae. It was only a matter of time before the Tomato exacted it’s revenge!!


    • See, that’s what I’m talking about…The Circle….butterfly eats tomato, wasp stings butterfly…I thump wasp…Uh oh!!!….I guess I had better watch my back!


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