Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Two butterflies went out at noon
And waltzed above a stream,
Then stepped straight through the firmament
And rested on a beam"
~ "Two Butterflies Went Out at Noon", Emily Dickinson, 1924
The White-Letter Hairstreak, a brown butterfly with a distinctive white “W” marking on the underside of its hindwings, last seen alive in Scotland in 1884, was spotted last summer 2017 around wych elms near Lennel, in the Scottish Borders! To thrive, butterflies need access to both delicious nectar sources and host plants. The best butterfly gardens have both plants to provide nectar and plants to provide food for caterpillars as female caterpillars will only lay eggs on plants that can serve as hosts. Some butterfly caterpillars can only eat the leaves of one plant, or one small group of plants. The Karner blue caterpillar eats only from the wild blue lupine; the monarch butterfly caterpillar eats only the members of the milkweed family; and the Hessel’s hairstreak consumes Atlantic white cedar, which often grows in threatened wetlands. 🦋
October 3rd is Butterfly Day! In Scots-Gaelic, butterfly is "dearbadan-de" or "dealan-dé".
In Scottish folklore, butterflies could indicate good or bad luck, depending on the colour.
The appearance of a yellow butterfly represents a good omen. It was once believed that a golden butterfly near a deceased person's resting place indicated that the soul is in heaven. A golden butterfly near a dying person was thought to be an omen of eternal happiness for the dying person.
In the past, children would capture and keep white butterflies for good luck, feeding them with sugared water, while dark brown and spotted Tortoise-shell butterflies were considered unlucky "witch butterflies."
Today there are about 30 or more species of butterflies found regularly in Scotland (and many more moths).
Recently, a White Letter Hairstreak butterfly was sighted in Scotland, the first time since 1884!
And in other positive news, the Comma butterfly, once thought to be dying out in the UK, has seen a huge resurgence in numbers in Scotland.
For a complete identification guide for Scottish butterflies, click the newly spotted rare White Letter Hairstreak Butterfly.