Question Mark Butterfly Tease

Question Mark butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

I’m 2/3 through my read of Butterfly People by William Leach and this book has exercised my thinking about so much that we encounter in the field. Photographing butterflies, as with this Polygonia interrogationis is never monotonous, alway the next minute offering up the definitely unexpected. This one (male? female? They are difficult to sex) zoomed up from the trail and set down on this leaf.

Do they have the ability to think? Does it revel in the knowledge that without net on long pole, slingshot or firearm, I had no way to harm it? Only some 10 feet above me, why does it tease me so? Does it know that I shoot macro- and that I can get no better image of it than this? The summer Question mark, basking ‘at poolside’ without concern of gawkers?

Back to Leach’s tome about butterfly collectors during the raging last 1/2 of the 19th century. Experiences like this one so exasperated Edwards, Scudder, Doherty, Strecker, Holland, Staudinger, et al. Whether it be in Raccoon Creek State Park, or India, or New Guinea or Brazil. Do they do it to tease us? Do they have the ability to think?

I say Nah! It is of course attractive to think otherwise.