Saturday, 7 September 2013

Curiosity Killed The Cat

It was time.  The conditions were perfect for the first time in over a million years.  This was going to work in this island and on this mossy part of the island.

She knew what time it was as the moon began rose from between the darkened spires of the rainforest trees.  Her wings quivering with excitement, Shea found the right angle for it to strike the rock so the sun would warm it perfectly and yet, it would also cool the eggs in the afternoon.

Not to hot – not too cold.  Perfect for her babies.

Her breed of butterfly was rare and yet, she had tried to lay eggs hundreds of times this year to see if they’d hatch.  Each time, she was saddened to find that her eggs were either eaten by some other animal, squashed or cooked by the sun.  But this time, she thought to see if this would work on the nice cool rock first, instead of a hot rock from the afternoon.

Hours passed by as the wide, round base of her eggs were laid gently side by side.  Each one was cushioned by webbing from her own silk she used when she was a caterpillar. 

By the time Shea was finished laying her eggs, the spire was tall, white and pointed.  It was beautiful – just like the others she had built – and she had yet to build the protective barrier around it to keep the ants from eating her young.  The moon had risen high above the trees and she didn’t have that long until sunrise; but she knew she’d make it.  So, stringing a nice thick line of silk from the main spire, Shea began building the fence a little bit at a time. 

She couldn’t rush the job or the fence would fail in keeping out the tiny predators.  And so, she started working hard on her protective little white fence.  The night sky moved overhead.  The moon passed as well, lighting up her little, mossy rock very well as Shea worked; her delicate tiny wings flickering every once in a while as she moved and felt for the next position; knowing exactly where she was – even though she couldn’t actually see where she was visually.  She could smell the heaviness of the damp moss beneath her ultra-sensitive feet and her antenna were forever sensing anything coming nearby to threaten her position on the rock.

Fortunately, nothing did. 

Nobody was stopping her in her work this time.

Then, something changed in the air.

The hair on the back of her body twitched and moved as the temperature suddenly dropped slightly; signalling the approaching of the dawn.

Shea moved around, feeling the distance of how far she had to go and found she wasn’t that far from finishing the fence.  There was one more picket to go and she took her time finishing it off as she felt the quick buzzing vibration of a dragonfly zip by.  The slow purposeful meander of a Praying Mantis; he paused and watched her but didn’t do anything.  His watch was of admiration, not to turn her eggs into his morning meal.  He was hungry for real food, not butterfly eggs.

As the sun’s heat broke the horizon and its heat touched the rock, Shea felt her little body take in the wonderful warmth of it.  She didn’t realised how cold she had become as her wings shivered, taking in the loveliness of the sun she had never seen before, but knew how pretty and warm it made her feel.

Then, she heard them. 

The foreign sound of them - humans. 

They had been nearby for a few weeks now, studying the area looking for what made her little lot of eggs on their tarp… well, she did of course, but she didn’t wish to be around to be captured by them.

She would never survive humans again, and so it was time to leave.  Humans never sounded like the other creatures of the island; they were noisy, abrupt and had awful ways of thinking what they did was right.  The one thing they didn’t know about her nests is that they could not touch them… the oil in their hands on anything they have on them kills her babies.

This is why none of them has ever seen her kind of butterfly for so long… the humans have been the biggest predators of all.