- May 25, 2011
- near Blacksburg, VA
Five days ago, I noticed a Monarch butterfly dangling by one leg from a disorganized spider web near the ceiling of my front porch. It was immobile. There was no spider in sight.
Being a kind person, I used my fly swatter to reach up there, and gently free the butterfly from its entanglement, and place it onto a small table at the edge of the porch. An hour later, it was still there, motionless. I forgot about it. After several more hours, I noticed it was gone. I had done a good deed, rescuing an endangered butterfly.
The Monarch mistook my kindness as a proffer, and has adopted me--much like a stray cat that was fed once. Now, each evening, this same butterfly swoops into my porch, banging against the windows and siding, and occasionally the side of my head. He eventually settles down for the night. But he hasn't missed a night since. No migratory urge seems to be driving him (definitely a "him") to warmer climes.
I've nicknamed him Moe. I have two theories on why Moe remains, and both involve a likely spider bite.
Theory 1: The spider venom caused a high--a buzz. Most victims don't live to tell the tale, but Moe keeps coming back, hoping to experience that bliss once more.
Theory 2: The spider venom caused brain damage, or maybe a complete erasure of his sense of direction and destination. Not having much of a brain to begin with, it seems like it wouldn't take much to knock it off the rails. With no pressing urge to migrate, Moe wanders out to eat (flower nectar) all day, each day. Then he returns to the only place he remembers, to get some shut eye.
Monarchs can't fly below about 55°F, and can't even crawl below about 45°F. But they don't freeze to death until it gets down to about 18°F. I think Moe will starve before the temp gets that low.
But for now, Moe is my pet, and evening companion.