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Beauty is sometimes hidden or diguised.  The fact that we can see this beauty is something that we’ll cover later, but for now the main thing to understand is that the butterfly is a master of mimicry.  Everyone knows Nabokov’s passages about their brilliance.  If a butterfly was already perched on the flower in front of me, and I didn’t actually watch it land, I wouldn’t know that the quivering petals weren’t petals at all.

Here, I could say that after my laser correction, brilliantly performed by the Benjamin Eye Institute, I easily saw this butterfly hidden among the flowers, but that would be a lie…  Without the correction, though, I couldn’t have seen the landing, either.

At the time of this photograph, no matter how much I rubbed my artificial lenses, I couldn’t see this butterfly at point-blank range.  So I just brought the smart phone closer.  It’s still art.

And another thing:  I was so excited by its color that I rushed to publish it, not noticing it was a Sunday.  But then yesterday, Dr. Benjamin suddenly sends me a link to an article by Boris Shvanvich about how tanks model their camouflage after that of the butterfly.

I also came across a couple of posts yesterday about butterflies, reminding me how Carl Jung wrote about synchronistic events such as these.


I’m warning you:  I’m not a lepidopterist and this data isn’t peer-reviewed; I simply repeat what I’ve read.

Butterfly eyes are made up of many smaller eyes, which number up to 60,000 in the largest specimens.  Some of them have simple eyes behind their antennae, as well.

Butterflies, like cats, orient themselves with their feelers/whiskers, and if you remove them they will not be able to find their way around.

I think that in the future we’ll be able to view the world through butterfly-like eyes, but we won’t have to be transformed into one like Zhuangzi.  So in the meantime, we understand that they see the world laid out like a mosaic.  It must be beautiful.  Sure, they can’t see much at a distance, but up-close it must be something we’ve never even dreamed of.

Heliconius butterflies have a UV-yellow pigment on their wings that in turn allows them to see ultraviolet colors, unlike ourselves.  It helps them find potential mates.

The males try to attract lady-butterflies by fluttering their wings, and that pattern takes the shape of a beautiful mosaic in their eyes.  Thus, he casts a spell on her.

And it’s good to be aware of all variables before any Lasik procedure, such as the fact that butterflies are near-sighted.  But they are able to see in 360 degrees, through both vertical and horizontal planes, and that’s why it’s so difficult to sneak up on them…  after all, a butterfly  isn’t a Pokemon.

Text and photos: Sebastian Varo


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