The Butterfly

It’s easy to love a butterfly. But every beautiful butterfly started life as a beastly caterpillar, eating machines that can swallow 86,000 times their birth-weight in less than two months. And what about the butterfly’s ugly sister, the moth? The butterfly’s evil twin sister was the world’s first domesticated insect, spinning miles of silk thread to make one pound of raw silk.

Produced by NHNZ

It’s easy to love a butterfly. It seems so beautiful and so fragile. Most people think the butterfly was made to brighten up our lives. According to a North American Indian legend, if you catch a butterfly you should tell it your secret wish. That’s because when you release the butterfly, it will carry your wish to the Great Spirit in the sky. And because you set the butterfly free, your wish will be surely granted. But the butterfly’s beautiful colors have attracted more than just a mate. In Victorian times professional collectors would go to extraordinary lengths to collect new and exotic butterflies. The first specimen of the giant birdwing butterfly was bagged by a naturalist using a shotgun!

But the twist in this tale is that every beautiful butterfly started life as a beastly caterpillar. The caterpillar traded in the butterfly’s good looks for camouflage because everybody’s out to get you when you’re on the bottom of the food chain. Why else would anything want to look like a bird dropping? Caterpillars are the juvenile delinquents of the butterfly world. They are eating machines that can swallow eighty-six thousand times their birth-weight in less than two months! That’s like a seven pound baby downing three hundred tons of food!

And there’s a skeleton in the butterfly’s closet–an ugly sister that’s given the family a bad name. When day turns to night, the beautiful butterfly goes to bed and the mysterious moth flies into our nightmares. The moth is the butterfly’s evil twin sister. It could never win a beauty contest, and wouldn’t pick up the award for ‘Miss Personality’. We’re scared of these shadows that flutter in the darkness.

But even moths can be beautiful and thousands of years ago one even became the world’s first domesticated insect. Today millions of ‘silk worms’ are farmed in China. It takes a thousand miles of silk thread to make one pound of raw silk, which is then turned into clothes beautiful enough to rival the wings of any butterfly.

It just goes to show that looks can be deceiving. An ugly grub gives us gorgeous silk. A plain and plump caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly. Obviously when it comes to the butterfly, you can’t judge a bug by its cover.

Episodes From This Series

The Cow

30 mins / 2001

The Bee

30 mins / 2001

The Shark

30 mins / 2001

The Whale

30 mins / 2001

The Parrot

30 mins / 2001

The Fish

30 mins / 2001

The Butterfly

30 mins / 2001

The Ram

30 mins / 2001

The Dog

30 mins / 2001

The Cat

30 mins / 2001

The Worm

30 mins / 2001

Who was the Real Lord of the Flies

2 Minutes / 2007

The Goldfish and the Emperor

2 Minutes / 2007

How a Moth Saved the Queen of England

2 Minutes / 2007

Dracula Was A Little Batty

3 Minutes / 2007

Are Butterflies the Messengers of the Gods

2 Minutes / 2007