a butterfly collection

A while back, I gave you a list of moths for a Themed Things Thursday list, and I said I’d get around to the other major set of lepidoptera shortly. So here is a collection of butterfly things, which I have carefully skewered with pins and lined up for your enjoyment.

    A Butterfly Collection

  1. butterfly collecting: a hobby that involves collecting specimens of butterflies, and typically pinning them to a board and displaying them under glass in rows. It was a particularly popular hobby during Victorian and Edwardian times.
  2. The Collector (1965) A movie about a butterfly collector who kidnaps a woman to add to his collection of creatures.
  3. butterfly net: a type of handheld net used for catching butterflies (often for a collection). The image of using oversized butterfly nets to catch people is sometimes used in cartoons (or the imagery is evoked in humor writing). Particularly when depicting the “men in white coats” in pursuit of an escapee from a mental institution. (cf: this, this, or this cartoon.)
  4. “The Butterfly”, a fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. A tale of a butterfly seeking a flower to be his bride. Unsuccessfully. In the end, he gets caught by people and pinned down, a state he likens to marriage.
  5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. A picture book about a caterpillar who is hungry and eats a lot before becoming “a beautiful butterfly.” (Sorry, did I give away the ending?)
  6. Heimlich : a caterpillar (who is generally very hungry) from Pixar’s animated feature, A Bug’s Life. At the end of the movie, he emerges from his cocoon as a butterfly with wings disproportionatley small for his body, saying: “Finally, I’m a beautiful butterfly”?) (You can watch the scene on YouTube.)
  7. butterfly kiss: a nickname for the act of brushing one’s eyelashes against another person’s skin as an act of affection.
  8. In the Time of the Butterflies. A novel by Julia Alvarez about 4 sisters who participated in a resistance against a brutal dictator in the Dominican Republic. Their codename was “las Mariposas,” or “the Butterflies.” Also a 2001 TV movie based on the novel.
  9. butterflies in the stomach: an expression referring to temporary minor gastrointestinal distress triggered by stress, such as that due to an anticipated meeting or public performance. (Doesn’t that sound poetic?)
  10. The Monarch. A bumbling arch-villain from “The Venture Bros.”, a cartoon shown on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Wears a butterfly costume, as do his henchman.
  11. Madame Butterfly: an opera written by Giacomo Puccini about a Geisha in Nagasaki called “Butterfly.”
  12. “Butterfly”, a song by Weezer about catching a butterfly in a mason jar. It also makes reference to the opera Madame Butterfly, and is on the album Pinkerton, which is the name of the male protagonist from the opera.
  13. the butterfly effect:
    An idea from Chaos theory whereby minor events can trigger a chain reaction of other events, which can sometimes lead to big events. Such as the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings leading to a tornado changing its path. (Also a 2004 movie.)
  14. butterfly ballot: a voting ballot notorious from the 2000 US presidential election, as its confusing layout may have led some would-be Gore voters in Florida to mistakenly vote for Pat Buchanan.
  15. The Sinister Butterfly: “Nefariously fluttering from leaf to leaf.” John’s blog. Which he doesn’t update very often these days. But he has posted some great photos there before, as well as some other stuff that’s worth reading.


Butterfly collection image source: Worcester City Museums, UK. The Monarch image was found herehttp://cakerockstheparty.wordpress.com/2007/09/24/ncaa-heisman-trophy-avatars/.

8 thoughts on “a butterfly collection

  1. The picture book, The Day the Babies Crawled Away, features butterflies prominently as does that mid-90s movie Angels and Insects. Neither features the word butterfly in the title, though.

  2. More for your list: A 1972 film entitled “Butterflies Are Free” and David Henry Hwang’s “M Butterfly”, a play later turned into a film that’s a retort to the Orientalism of “Madame Butterfly”.

  3. azahar-
    I can imagine it (The Collector) would be a creepy thing to read. (Okay, I find insect collecting moderately creepy, in general.) Was it a novel, or a shorter story?

    Yes, it’s a great one to read together. I recommend the board book version. The holes in the pages stand up better to fingers poking.

    Butterflies in title are not required! Thanks for those additions. I hadn’t heard of the picture book, nor seen the movie.

    Oh my freakin’ god. I assure you, I had not forgotten. I had not seen. Now that I have seen, I will never forget.

    Thanks for some most excellent additions! (I actually have seen neither “Madame Butterfly”nor “M Butterfly”, but it would be interesting to see both. I’m quite taken with the idea of creative works written in response to other works.)

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