Beauty of Butterflies
by Christine Donald: Outdoor Recreation Planner / SANWR
published September 2016
When you think of summer many things
pop into your head. Picnics, barbeque, pools,
beach, hot weather, gnats, skin rashes and for
many butterflies. Look out bird watchers ...
butterfly watchers are on the rise.
It is so funny to see people hovered over
flowers, bushes, and shrubs trying to get a
photo of an insect that will not for a moment
sit still. People running around in circles and
often running into each other to get a rare butterfly
can be great fun to watch. Note: no butterfly
watchers were hurt but many may get a
scratch or two from the not so nice vegetation
in South Texas.
Butterflies mean a lot of things to folks and
I was surprised by their meanings to different
cultures. In Pre-Hispanic, Mexican Indian culture,
the butterfly is one of the symbolic representatives
of Tlaloc, god of rain. Among some
tribes of Mexico the butterfly is a symbol of
the fertility of the earth. Louisianans associate
butterflies with luck, good and bad depending
on their color.
For Native Americans, butterflies play a variety
of roles in their folktales differing from
tribe to tribe. In the folklore of some tribes,
butterflies represent change and balance; in
others, ephemeral beauty; and in some, vanity
and frivolous behavior. Many tribes consider
butterflies to be symbols of good luck, and
some have taboos against killing them.
Blackfoot people associate butterflies with
sleep and dreaming, and butterfly designs were
used to decorate cradle boards and other children's
items to help them sleep and bring them
good dreams. Butterflies for many symbolize
endurance, change, hope, and life.
Butterflies have been symbols for celebrations,
weddings, life, and life's journey.
Wow, one little insect means so many different
things. Butterflies are beautiful and
summer without them would not be the same.
Some like the Monarch butterfly are being protected
by nature preservationists.
Butterflies are pollinators which have taken
a hit with habitat loss, pesticides, and weather.
Without pollinators we would not have many
of the foods we all like to eat ... a taco without
the corn tortilla wouldn't be a taco.
In the valley we have a great variety of butterflies.
According to the National Butterfly
Center, nearly 150 species of North American
butterflies can be seen only in the Lower Rio
Grande Valley (LRGV) of Texas, or by traveling
More than three hundred species of butterflies
are only found in the LRGV. Almost 40%
of the 700+ butterflies that can be found in the
United States can be seen in a three-county
area at the southernmost tip of Texas, where
the climate makes it possible to enjoy the outdoors
The LRGV is a good place to come see the
beauty of butterflies and especially at Santa
Ana National Wildlife Refuge where almost
half of the all the butterfly species in North
American can be found. I hope to see you hovering
over bushes looking for butterflies.