Today we have the Ringlet Butterfly. As you can see, there is nothing very remarkable about it. It’s just a butterfly.
It prefers the cool damp days to bright sunny ones and so is out and about when its other more gaudy associates are sheltering from the inclemency.
Many cartoon heroes and even the main dramatis personae in our espionage fiction are usually remarkable people. The truth of the matter is that these larger-than-life characters are truly fictional and in the real world spies are valued for their ordinariness, their ability to blend in and disappear into the wallpaper – to be invisible in plain sight. The Ringlet performs this sleight of hand with ease. They are one of our most common butterflies but barely get a mention. When the subject arises their more colourful cousins, the Red Admirals, the Painted Ladies, the Peacocks, the Fritillaries, claim the limelight.
Are our, so ordinary, Ringlet butterflies leading a secret life, we wonder? Are they taught Morse Code in their cradles? Do they emerge from the chrysalis as fully competent agents provocateur? Is their love of dull damp days a cover for their clandestine operations?
‘Oh Mimulus, you drive me mad,
You timid yellow bloom.
Your talk is always of the bad,
Your mind is full of doom.
Disaster fills each waking thought,
Your conversation palls.
This list of battles to be fought,
Just on my deaf ear falls.’
‘Impatiens, slow down and hear
The warnings that we bring.
Pink blossom, haste will cost you dear,
A doleful song you’ll sing.
Our future flies on fragile wings
This world’s a dangerous place.
These are not vague imaginings,
But real threats that we face.’
To bee or not to bee, a question I ask myself,
You might as well be asking, ‘When’s a fairy an elf?’
A witch is always a who, but a which is only a what,
Then again, here’s a thought, ‘Should I bee a wasp – or not?’
Do I look really fierce? I’m hoping you’d think I sting.
Would my yellow and black coat convince you – that’s the thing?
I’m trying not to get eaten by a bird looking for a quick bite.
Now my disguise is good – I just hope birds have good sight.
You’ll find me in the garden, I love to smell the flowers,
And buzz around among their dappled scented bowers.
I know that I look scary, but I don’t want to make you cry,
You see, I’m just a harmless, friendly, hoverfly.