Butterflies like bubbles

For the last several days I have been slaughtering hundreds of butterflies.

I cringe and look away as it's happening, but I am rendered powerless to stop it. I can almost feel their frustration of being caught in the highway and street tailwinds; see their fruitless fluttering, so light and breathless, and then being helplessly sucked into the grill of my car or under my tires.

It's like running through a wall of bubbles, the sense that their little bodies burst on impact with my car, like bubbles on my skin. The only difference is I'm not breathless or laughing. I'm distraught and disturbed.

There are hundreds of them, everywhere, all flying north. I'm so confused. Why are butterflies heading north? Shouldn't they be headed towards warmer weather and a chilly margarita??
Snouts were pouring over in Bastrop Co yesterday and are present
today...Yesterday thousands of them were heading N/E but with the N/W winds
today they are befuddled and haunting the trees etc in an effort to buck
that wind and to move further northward..... I saw exactly 7 Monarchs
riding the N/W wind today but 5X that number of Queens and quite a few
Admirals heading SW -Butterfly Digest
They are lost. I am so sad.

And no matter which way I go I pummel into them. If I can manage it I slow down and hope the aerodynamics of the car does its job. It seems to work. Otherwise, I drive with squinted eyes at the horror of what I'm doing to these beautiful organic robots utterly unable to change their programming and take a safer route: must. go. north. I imagine their little brains are telling them. No matter that there are giant steel beasts criss-crossing their path and diminishing their numbers.

I wonder if we're screwing up their evolution. Obviously there are hundreds of thousands of them, but can their numbers survive this unaccounted for, unnatural selection process?? Did Mother Nature take us into account when she ingrained them with this instinct to move?

It's not an easy thing to do to drive into a traipsing daisy chains of fluttering butterflies. It feels shameful and wrong.

I don't think any other motorist is relishing the experience either. Maybe they're not feeling it as viscerally as I am, but surely they think, "Fuck. This isn't cool." Fragile beauty such as this should be admired, not annihilated.

It's at moments like these that I am so ashamed of what we do to our planet. I can compartmentalize the landfills (they're out of sight and better than in my backyard), I can reason that we're trying to do better (green movements, etc.), and I can hope that it's working, but when I am forced to participate in the carnage of nature it makes my heart lurch. If only I could walk where I need to go I would do so in a butterfly's heartbeat... if they even have hearts.

Actually, I don't care if they don't. They're me in so many ways with or without a heart. They're just doing what they need to do to fulfill their tiny little destinies. It's what anyone of us does every single moment of our lives and to see their plans so easily destroyed unsettles me, I suppose. Little butterfly lives lost forever.

Is this what the butterfly effect really means?? Is this what it means when we tell ourselves and each other that we can't control everything? That at some point in our lives we're going to explode head on into something unmovable and unforeseeable? Obviously, the answer is yes. I'm just not sure I'm willing to commit to just being a fragile butterfly.


  1. My 4-year-old caught a butterfly about a month ago. The butterfly didn't survive the experience. I admit, I found it terribly disturbing. I don't know why one butterfly bothered me so much when she could kill millions of ants and I wouldn't flinch, but it did. I'm sorry you have to drive through them.

  2. Yes... the answer is yes and it is so very scary. This type of thinking totally keeps me up at night. It's too much to think about, really, the unknown. The fear, the worry. The sadness.
    That is truly sad about the butterflies... :( I hate that.

  3. They were everywhere! I witnessed it too... beautiful, but lost, creatures.

  4. Wow - I came over from SITS and this is the first thing I read. It's so sad and so beautifully written!

  5. Why are you surrounded by butterflies? Did I miss that part?

    I live in the mountains and we don't have a lot of insects or bugs... except the Wooly Worm, but I doubt it's the same.

  6. Beautiful post! You could go crazy.... the feelings are just overwhelming sometimes.

  7. Wow. this is beautiful and dreadful all at the same time. my own heart aches at the thought of such a sight.

  8. I can literally be haunted by this type of thing! Sorry you have to deal with the carnage... :-(

  9. The butterfly effect means that a butterfly (no matter how far away) can't flap its wings without somehow affecting you, through the chain of cause and effect. Lovely, sad post.
    -Lela from SITS

  10. Wow, I'm really glad we're not smashing into butterflies in Pittsburgh. My daughter would either be horrified or scare me by being really happy excited by it.

  11. What a very cool analogy... I had never thought about butterflies or their migration... i have learned something new today...

    Stopping in from SITS and by the way, i don't mind the cuss words ;-)... raw emotion..

  12. Stopping by from SITS to say hi & Happy (belated) SITS feature day!

    What a lovely & moving post! I don't currently live where there are lots of butterflies, at any time of year, but I do remember seeing lots of monarchs, as a child & how sad I felt learning of their diminished numbers. They're such beautiful creatures. It would be virtually impossible not to feel something, as you made your way through the swarm, just as it's virtually impossible to avoid the swarms during such a large migration. Thanks for posting such a moving piece.