Brimstone Butterfly

2002, Oil on Canvas, Size: 32 x 24

I am so captivated by the tale of the Brimstone Butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni), that I am compelled to share her story in a dictionary-like fashion. There is a popular myth that it is this butterfly which gave us the word BUTTERFLY, a corruption of butter-colored fly. Very rare, these bright yellow insects often hold record life spans of over a year. Conspicuous in flight due to their vibrant color, these butterflies are remarkably leaf-like at rest and can become very well camouflaged. They emerge in spring and sip on nectar sources, while focusing their main attention on reproduction. The females are much paler than the males and from a distance, are often mistaken for Large Whites. You can have the good fortune of viewing a Brimstone Butterfly’s open wings during only two occasions: in flight and during courtship behavior. The progress from egg to adult is rapid and the next generation of adults feed ravenously prior to hibernating in late summer. When my son, Constantin, was a child, he chased these butterflies for two days at our house in the countryside, before finally catching several with his bare hands.