Not long ago I was outside enjoying the warm spring air when I was joined by an unexpected visitor – a red admiral butterfly much like the photo shown here. It was flitting lazily in the breeze. I was holding my hands in the sunshine and, to my utter astonishment, it landed on the back of my left hand.
I held perfectly still, expecting it to quickly realize I was not a nectar laden flower. That’s when I got my second surprise. The admiral butterfly extended its proboscis (a really long, flexible tongue) and touched my skin. Then it took a small step back and out came the proboscis again – and again and again. As its tongue and feet moved I could feel the ever so gently sensation on my skin. I was surprised to discover I could sense the tiny claws on the tips of the legs as they caught my skin. And the feel of the tongue – well, it was almost but not quite a faint stinging sensation.
Why was this red admiral lingering on my hand? My best guess is the salts available on my skin from sweat. Butterflies, like all other creatures, need salt and sweat is one way to get it. Whatever its reason I was glad to have it in my spring garden. Moments like this are part of the spontaneous joy of gardening and spending time outdoors. There’s nothing like it.