By Sally Holland
A frog and a bird watched a butterfly as she went from flower to flower in search of a bit of nectar. The frog sat in the mud beside the pond. The bird stood on a stick that sat on top of the mud. The bird kept an eye out for small bugs in the water while the frog studied the butterfly.
“If she didn’t have wings, you could call her a bug,” said the frog.
“If she didn’t have wings, you could eat her,” said the bird. “But as it is, her wings are too big for your mouth.”
“I don’t know about that,” said the frog. “There is plenty of space in my mouth when I stretch it out.”
He filled his neck with air and blew it out like a balloon just to prove the bird wrong.
Spotting the drool coming from the corner of the frog’s wide mouth, the butterfly flew away. She did not want to be eaten before she ate some milkweed. And she did not want to eat milkweed until she laid her eggs.
She needed to lay her eggs soon. The weather had begun to cool. Her eggs would need to become caterpillars and the caterpillars would need to become chrysalis before the weather turned cold. Her children could only survive the winter if they wrapped themselves up in the silk cocoon of chrysalis to stay warm.
The butterfly’s wings were orange and black with the black acting as lines around lopsided patches of orange. She had a fat, black body with spindly legs. Coming from the top of her head, she had a set of skinny antennae.
She fluttered from bush to tree and then from tree to bush until she settled on the healthy green leaf of a milkweed plant. Her children would be able to use the leaf for hiding from birds and, if they got hungry, the leaf could be supper. She thought it important to leave a fine supper for her children since once they were born, she wouldn’t be around to feed them herself.
The butterfly laid her eggs and ate her fill of milkweed then she returned to the frog and the bird. She sat on a stick right near where the bird was hopping around on the ground in search of seeds.
“I am ready,” she said.
“Ready for what?” said the bird.
“To be eaten, of course,” she said.
“I’m not hungry, right now,” said the bird.
“Oh,” She said. She didn’t understand why the bird was being so difficult when he was clearly hungry as he was looking for seeds to eat.
The frog chimed in. “I’m hungry,” he said.
In a flash, he whipped out his tongue and caught the butterfly around her body. His tongue with the butterfly disappeared back into his mouth as quickly as it had appeared. She was gone…wings and all.
“You snooze, you lose,” said the frog to the bird.
He started to hop away but stumbled on the landing and rolled to his side.
“Blech!” the frog groaned. He struggled to get to his feet. “Blech! Blech!”
He then heaved and heaved and barfed up the butterfly.
“Blech!” he repeated over and over.
The bird hopped over to where the frog was rolling in the mud.
“Are you okay?” he asked poking the frog with his beak.
“That butterfly tasted horrible,” moaned the frog. “How could something so pretty taste so bad?”
The bird hopped over to the butterfly where she was slowly recovering from her recent visit to the frog’s stomach.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“I’ve been better,” she said. One-by-one she stretched out all six of her legs to make sure they would work. Then she fluffed her wings.
The bird returned to the frog.
“You knew,” said the frog to the bird. “You knew that the butterfly would taste bad. That’s why you didn’t eat her yourself.”
“The orange ones usually do,” said the bird.
Having finished checking herself for injuries, the butterfly flitted away.
“You could have warned me,” said the frog.
“Now where is the fun in that?” said the bird. His beak didn’t allow for smiling so he flicked his tail to show the frog that he was laughing.
Although the butterfly survived the incident with the frog, she died soon after. She was never meant to live through the winter for she had already passed the chrysalis stage of her life. She could make no silk cocoon to keep her warm.
Besides, her type of butterfly normally lives for less than two months. Her children lived for less than two months, as did her children’s children, and their children.
Thanks to her, none of them had to worry about being eaten by the frog. Milkweed tastes bad to frogs and birds. By eating milkweed, she had made herself taste bad.
She taught the frog a lesson he would never forget.