Where Do Flutterbies Go in the Rain?

Yesterday I captured a photograph of a beautiful Small Tortoiseshell butterfly on a marigold in my garden. He was very ‘tame’ (sluggish,) so I was able to get really close to take the shot. This is it straight out of the camera, no cropping or twiddling with the colour saturation levels and ‘pop’ function – just as it was taken. I’m very proud of it


It sat there quite a while and I chatted to it as I weeded nearby. I often converse with the creatures in my garden, scolding those that startle me (like frogs hopping out from under chard leaves) or that eat my veggies (like the slugs and snails – before I crush them and offer them up to the birds.) I’ll croon lovingly to the robin who follows me around the garden and praise the bees for the great job they’re doing pollinating my flowers, but butterflies are my absolute favourite – or Flutterbies as I used to call them when I was a little girl – arguing obstinately with My Mum that the name ‘flutterby’ makes more sense as they do actually flutter by.

So today, I was sad to see another Small Tortoiseshell in my garage all caught up in a spiders web. Its wings were closed and I reckoned it was dead, but on closer inspection, it was moving. I went straight into flutterby rescue mode. Spider stayed away – I don’t want to clear it out or kill it because they have their job to do too, keeping flies and mosquitoes at bay. I suppose you could say the flutterby was collateral damage. It happens also with my carnivorous plant. Here you see it’s caught a mosquito, but the next leaf over has snagged a little ladybug…and that’s a real shame.

But it wasn’t too late for the flutterby, I hoped. I took it out to the marigold and set it on the same flower I’d photographed the day before. It opened and closed its wings, but it looked quite forlorn having lost two of its legs and one of its antennae. And then the rain came on…

My flutterby was quivering (was he shivering?) and I thought I should lift him to somewhere dry. If only I knew where to set him. Where do flutterbies go in the rain? I couldn’t ever recall seeing any flying around during a rain shower. When I did the butterfly project in San Jose, we didn’t even do out if it was cloudy never mind raining (not that it rained much!) and that was just looking for caterpillars…

It was raining hard and I figured the flutterby needed to drink some nectar, fuel up and fly to wherever flutterbies go in the rain, but in the meantime maybe I should help. So I went looking for an umbrella, but just as I was about to I step into the house the sun broke from behind a cloud. It was the precise conditions needed for a rainbow, so I ran back outside to see if I could see a rainbow and sure enough there it was.

My Husband – a sucker for rainbows too – had joined me and I started to tell him the saga of the poor one-antennaed-four-legged flutterby sitting on the marigold … except when I went to look he was gone (the flutterby, not My Husband!)

Maybe he’d died and dropped off. But thankfully no dead bodies were found on the scene at all! My Husband helpfully suggested I check the sole of my wellie boots – nope not there either (phew!)

So it seems that when I wasn’t looking my flutterby flew off to where ever it is flutterbies go in the rain leaving me scratching my damp head and soggily wondering – where do flutterbies go in the rain?

Byddi Lee