Sunday, June 21, 2009

Being blue over Miami Blues

The reason we cannot spray for mosquitos is this little guy. Miami Blue Butterfly. They are beautiful, unique to the Florida Keys and ENDANGERED. The shimmery blue tint on their wings gives them their name. About the size of a dime, they are hard to identify and rare.  The one and only time I have seen them, they gave me a burst of serotonin, my thoughts went to; spring! Here comes summah! Fun! Preeettty! These guys are hard to see though, they never want to land on anything, sit still to show what they really have to offer visually.  More like insects with an attention disorder, they flitter around spastically, touching down and taking off in second long spurts. They use and depend on an annoying little plant called nickerbean to lay their eggs and make their cocoons. Nickerbean gets it's name because as you walk by it- it "nicks" you (more like tears your flesh. Lovely! Where can I get some you ask?) Many thorns from this plant conveniently stick out, shaped with a nice C-curve, so when it sticks you and you continue to walk forward it sinks deeper into your skin. It's not really pleasant. The result is offering protection for the various stages of the butterfly. It makes me realize that things that occur in nature that seem like a nuisance, inconvenient and annoying to us have a use in creating something beautiful like the miami blue butterfly and one may not even realize it. (Feel free to expand and observe how this could also relate to life, right?) The butterfly depends on the nickerbean for survival. It becomes a bit sweet, you know, the relationship of the beautiful butterfly and this hated plant....
Anyway, we had a couple that volunteered on the island for the winter. Nickerbean bothered their hikes through the woods, searching for washed up trash to treasure items.  They saw no good use for it, HATED it. For the time they were on Elliott they made it their job to cut down every nickerbean they could find, spending all day in the woods with their machete hacking at the nickerbean without realizing it's significance.
My one nuisance right now on my beautiful island is the bugs.  It's hard to describe the mosquito experience on Elliott. I like to use another image so people can maybe understand a bit better. Imagine walking out of your house and being swarmed, by let's say- a swarm of bees or maybe bats, they are in your face, in your hair and you can hear the buzzing of blood thirst- first instinct is to run, waving arms, screaming until you find sanctuary. This is me, I run from house to boat, boat to house, house to workout room, workout room to house. It can bring tears to my eyes I hate it so much. In the blazing hot florida summer, I wear a bug suit, covering my arms, face, head so I don't get eaten alive. (Is it a urban myth that you could die from swarming mosquitos?)  I try to be an organic person, I don't want to use chemicals all over the place, but I find myself being pulled while walking around in Lowe's or Target to buy the most toxic, poisonous items I can find to use to get rid of the mosquitos. I read the labels, the directions, picture myself hooking up the hose and where I would spray. What brand looks best, what picture on the front of the bottle looks most deadly, would the mosquitos make little sounds as the poison slowly sinked in their bodies, which poison would make them most suffer.... But then I think of the blue and what's right, what's fair, just because I can and get away with it, should I? If this is the small sacrifice I have to make for the Miami Blue, then why not? I could go on and on about why insects are so important, list amazing facts from my entomology class, how without honeybees we wouldn't last very long, blah blah. But when people scouff at what I am living with on Elliott Key in the summer, I say, it's not so bad, look what I do have- I share my island with a unique butterfly only found in the Florida Keys, a little bit of beauty I get to admire.

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