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Today I am going to blog about my photo Appalachian Brown. I took this shot earlier this year. July fifth at 4:55 in the afternoon, to be exact. I had taken a walk down to the woods. I say down to the woods because the house is on the top of a hill. To get to the wooded area at the edge of the property, you have to walk down the hill through a cow pasture.
At the edge of the woods is a manmade pond, into and out of which flows a small stream. There is a crossing beside the pond, directly at the edge of the woods. Behind the pond, is another even smaller stream, which backs up into the pond, creating a shallow pool and a small marshy area. Further up this becomes little more then a muddy bed a few feet wide. But right behind the pond at the edge of this small marshy area, grows, among other plants, several sedges.
I did not know it at the time, but this is the perfect micro habitat for Appalachian Brown (Satyrodes appalachia) butterflies . Their larvae feed on sedges, and the adults frequent wooded areas with standing or slow moving water.
But as I said, I did not know this until later, when I had identified the butterfly from my photos, and learned more about it from a field guide. So I was pleasantly surprised to find this one, in pristine condition, resting on the leaf of a Sweet Gum sapling which was growing by the edge of the marsh. The light was low, so I had to use my tripod. It took a little while, but for the most part the butterfly was cooperative, and I came away with one decent shot.
Because the light was low though, I had trouble gauging the exposure, and it turned out a little underexposed, so I had to lighten it up a bit.
Some people might pass this species off as just a little brown butterfly, but as you can see, they are beautifully patterned with eyespots and stripes. Next year I will be looking for more.
I find it amazing how fast this micro-habitat was colonized by the butterfly. It has only been in existence less than 10 years, and I am sure that the sedges probably didn’t grow for the first several seasons.
A few days after this I returned to the same vicinity, a small clearing on the other side of the swampy area. As I was walking at the edge of the clearing, I noticed something fluttering. And there was an Appalachian Brown butterfly perched on some weeds. It was probably the same individual, but it was somewhat badly worn. The edges of its wings were in tatters. Butterfly wings are very delicate and wear quickly. They cannot be regenerated either. That is probably one reason why most adult butterflies do not live very long, only a few weeks. Some may only live a few days, but I think some species in the tropics can survive for up to a year. But even if butterflies did have the ability to heal their wings, their diet, which is usually made up of nectar which is poor in protein, would not provide enough energy for them to anyway.
So it got me thinking, what about in the garden of Eden? I don’t believe that anything died until after the fall (when Adam and Eve sinned). So how did butterfly wings have the potential to last forever?
First, there wouldn’t be any predators, which probably do much of the damage. But it still seems obvious that butterflies would need the ability to regenerate their wings. I have not studied the particulars of butterfly wing anatomy, but I think that it is probable that they once had the ability to regenerate their wings. God created earth with a perfect climate and environments, so it is probable that plants were able to take in much more energy than they do today, because there was much more available. This increase in energy would in turn have been passed on to pollinators, and would enable butterflies to have enough energy to regenerate their wings. Also, because their wings would not become damaged as quickly, because there wouldn’t be any predators, they would have more time to gather and store that energy.
I theorize that butterflies later lost this ability, possibly through mutation, after the fall, or perhaps after the flood when the climate was dramatically altered. It is reasonable that this should happen, because any mutant would probably have a greater chance of survival/reproduction because all of its energies would be put into reproduction, while those individuals that did not have the mutation would probably not have the energy to reproduce, so the variety with un-regeneratable wings would perpetuate the mutation, while those having the ability to heal their wings would die out. Those which could heal their wings would also have less chance of survival because they would probably not have enough energy to escape from predators.
Anyway, it is an interesting thought, and when I see this photograph it often reminds me of how great it would be to live without the curse of sin.
In my next post I will probably talk about one part of the flora in the little swamp, but until then, happy holidays!