Monarch butterfly that is. On a nice breezy Saturday morning in late September 2010, I was attending the annual Fall Fishing Derby sponsored by Urban American Outdoors. Kids were fishing in the nearby pond and I was on hand to do some urban ecology and environmental science outreach.
When I caught something moving along...
I saw this butterfly in the grassy field of a neighborhood park in Kansas City, Kansas.
It really drew the attention of the nearby kids with which I was interacting.
Upon closer inspection we realized that it was an injured butterfly.
I told the kids that this Monarch Butterfly most likely encountered a bird like a robin or blue jay or starling that was hoping for a quick meal. The bird soon realized that this butterfly was bitter and awful tasting and spit the butterfly out. This chemical defense tactic against the butterfly's predators. It helps butterfly populations to survive; but it doesn't help the unfortunate individual who taught the bird a lesson. So there is a sacrifice of individuals that benefit the masses (altruism).
It was really struggling to get around, climbing up grass blades, fluttering that lone wing in vain and tipping over all of the while.
But it did make for an amazing outreach and learning moment and personal encounter that the kids (especially the girls) really enjoyed.
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
DNLee is a biologist and she studies animal behavior, mammalogy, and ecology . She uses social media, informal experiential science experiences, and draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups.