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Posts Tagged ‘butterflies’

Butterflies and Puddling in my Small Kitchen Garden

The flower beds my wife maintains near my small kitchen garden get a lot of attention from butterflies.

My wife has established various ornamental plants near my small kitchen garden. Many of these, she has heard, will attract butterflies. I can attest that at least some do; there are often colorful butterflies flitting about while I till soil, plant vegetables, remove weeds, prune, and otherwise muddle about in my vegetable beds.

I enjoy the variety of butterflies that come and go, and I have two observations I want to share.

A Kitchen Gardener’s Deep Thought about Butterflies #1

Butterflies? Really? Whatever about butter made someone name these insects butterflies? I reviewed the Word Origin discussion at and found a silly explanation that mentioned witches, butter, milk, yellow wings, and excrement. Clearly, this is an effort to cover a more astonishing truth: No one ever named them Butterflies.

Trust me: there can be no doubt that the original name for these insects was Flutterflies. You can find hundreds of literary references to the fluttering of these colorful creatures. Anyone lacking even primitive imagination would have named them Flutterflies, and that they did.

Then, near the beginning of the Renaissance, a scribe was copying an authoritative manuscript about Flutterflies. This scribe was known for pushing the tolerances of his quill and he accidentally turned the “Fl” into a B on the nearly-finished cover panel. Rather than recreate the cover from scratch, the scribe copied the entire text of the book using “B” in place of “Fl” wherever the word Flutterfly appeared.

Sheep that we are, we continue to call Flutterflies by this silly dairy-related name. There’s no going back.

A Kitchen Gardener’s Deep Thought about Flutterflies #2

Marauding cabbage flutterflies puddle after I water my small kitchen garden. I love that they do this… especially if it keeps them away from my broccoli. Yes: broccoli worms are baby cabbage flutterflies.

Puddling. If you’re a gardener, you’ve probably seen puddling, but you might not have heard of it. Often after I water my small kitchen garden, a flock of flutterflies assembles on the moist soil. This, my dad used to tell me, is how flutterflies (though he called them butterflies) ingest essential minerals that simply don’t exist in nectar the flutterflies typically consume.

So, while my wife plants flowering ornamentals to attract those pretty insects, I do my share by watering the vegetable garden from time-to-time. Of course, my brassicas wouldn’t mind if someone would come to puddle besides the cabbage butterflies.


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