Sighting butterflies or raising caterpillars is not only about enjoying their beauty. It is about targets for a season, and the mission to nail these targets.
Searching caterpillars or trying to spot a rare species often ends in disappointment. Many quest will bring no results. And even a caterpillar found can later die of parasites. Like in sports, one cannot always win or hit a target. And this is what makes butterflies also to a packing challenge.
Every target is a mission on its own. And the reward for all the effort? The rush of finding what you have been looking for. A perfect shot of a butterfly. The chance to follow the journey from caterpillar to releasing the adult into nature. Even compete and beat other people in shared missions. You name it.
Need an example? Last summer I was spending hours if not days searching for caterpillars of Privet Hawk-moths (Sphinx ligustri). A search I started as a kid. As yet, I have never found one. However, I know they’re around and actually pretty common. It turned out last summer I was simply too late. The caterpillars had already left their food plants and pupated under ground.
So, what next? It’s time to stand up and keep walking. That said, next summer I will find my first amazing green and gigantic caterpillar of this species. This is one of my missions for this year.
Did you know…
Research scientists in many countries are dependent on hobby lepidopterists, people calling butterflies their hobby, to report their observations and sightings. This way more data is available for monitoring the health and distribution of different species.