15 May 2013

The Dragonfly and the Butterfly

My wife and I went for a walk at a nearby lake this morning, and I saw something kind of cool and very interesting while we were out there.  At one point, there was a rather large dragonfly hovering about, probably looking for food.  Whenever it got too near a particular plant, though, a fairly small butterfly would fly up and actually chase the dragonfly away.  I thought I was imagining things, but it happened three times, which is good enough for me to recognize a bit of a pattern.

What surprised me was that dragonflies eat other insects, while butterflies are virtually defenseless against other creatures--they don't even eat through a mouth, but through a proboscis.  The dragonfly is equipped by nature to do severe damage to something like a butterfly, even killing it, while the butterfly really can't do anything at all to a dragonfly.  Yet the butterfly was able to chase the dragonfly off more than once.  It didn't make sense from a logical perspective, yet it did make sense when one thinks of the ways that nature equips animals to take care of themselves.

The thing that struck me the most strongly, though, was that the dragonfly was scared away by the illusion of danger.  It got me to thinking about our natures, and just how easy it is for us to be intimidated or frightened by things that we think are dangerous or powerful, but which in reality are pretty harmless.  People get afraid of snakes just because they're snakes--even if they're only harmless garter snakes.  People are sometimes afraid of other people because of the ways they look, not realizing that they're just people, as all of us are.  We may be afraid to face a certain person because of something we said or did, only to find out the person has forgotten about it completely.  Our fear was caused by our ideas of how the person would act, not by reality.

Are there any scary butterflies in your life?  It would be a good idea to look at it more closely, to see if it actually can do you any harm at all, or if you're just intimidated by the illusion of possible harm.  Because as frightening as the butterfly may look to you, the fact is that it really is pretty harmless.

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