Relax with Butterflies for Your Mental Health
Butterflies are beautiful, wonderful teachers of metamorphosis, and crucial pollinators that spark our imaginations and curiosity. Their hovering presence leaves us feeling honored that they came close enough for us to get a glimpse of their fragile beauty. We become instantly captivated by them. As soon as we see one, no matter our age, we still want to say, “Look, a butterfly!”
And watching them could be beneficial to our health. Research has shown that watching wildlife and spending time in nature can have positive benefits for mental health and well-being. Sir David Attenborough, a renowned naturalist and TV broadcaster, says watching butterflies gives us “precious breathing space away from the stresses and strains of modern life.”
Stephen Buckley of Mind, a mental health charity, said: “We’re delighted to see that Butterfly Conservation is promoting the mental health benefits of getting outdoors. At Mind, we have found that being in nature can have a powerful, grounding effect, with research indicating that it can help alleviate mental health problems like depression and anxiety.”
The nature-heals concept is an especially important therapy for youth dealing with mental health issues. Being in nature is promoted by teenage depression treatment centers, where they are finding this type of therapy to be extremely beneficial.
Butterfly-watching has grown more popular in recent years, and an increasingly popular way to observe them is in at exhibit. Enjoy a stay at the Mackinac Island Bed and Breakfast to marvel at the butterflies at the third oldest live butterfly exhibit in the US. Here are some fun facts to help you observe them.
Flight of the Butterfly
Butterfly-watchers can often identify a species from a distance just by noting its flight pattern. Butterflies have four wings, two on each side of their bodies. The wings can move independently, allowing for wide variations of flight patterns. Some species seem to dart in every direction at once with only a few wing flaps, while others glide slowly with a few wing flaps.
Butterflies rely on external sources for body heat because they are ectotherms. They must spend time in the sun with their wings spread, in the morning and on cooler days, raising their body temperature to about 85 degrees before they can fly. A few minutes of basking in the sun raises their temperature as much as 20 degrees.
Most butterflies have a few short weeks to mate before they die. The male finds another butterfly of the same species by sight, then determines its sex by getting close enough to detect chemical pheromones. This process often makes them look like they’re dancing around each other in the air. A female and male mate by clasping the ends of their abdomens together. Amazingly, they can remain that way for up to 12 hours so the male can be sure no competitors can fertilize “his” eggs. Sometimes you’ll see two butterflies seemingly stuck together as they fly by because the female is going to feed. The female lays her eggs in a day or two, one at a time on a plant.
Most butterfly species drink nectar from flowers, tree sap, fruit juices and even carrion or dung. They feed with their proboscis, drawing the food up into the body. Some species have the ability to increase their life spans by digesting pollen gathered on the proboscis. Butterflies gain needed salts and other nutrients by puddling, an activity in which they drink from puddles or muddy spots.
Butterflies don’t sleep exactly, but they rest with their wings closed. The undersides of the wings are designed to provide superior camouflage, allowing them to land and seemingly disappear from sight — an excellent way to elude predators.