Note: This is a reposting of the autumn article with the spring dates. It is still entirely relevant. Butterflies are truly a great indicator of environmental health.
Every year in spring and autumn South Africa conducts a butterfly census. Counting populations of specific butterflies and recording them with the Lepidopera Society of South Africa (http://www.lepsoc.org.za).
Lepidoptera (pron.: /ˌlɛpɨˈdɒptərə/ lep-i-DOP-tər-ə) refers to the order of insects that includes moths and butterflies. The word means “scaly wings” and is derived from classical Greek origins.
In Afrikaans a butterfly is referred to as a ‘skoenlapper’ or a ‘shoe patcher’. Not sure how it got that name. Another Afrikaans name is vlinder. Elsewhere in the world, butterflies are known by other various other, often onomatopaeic names. In Spanish speaking countries they are called mariposas. In Portugal they are borbolettas. To the French they are papillons. Remember the book “Papillon”? In Russia they are babochka and in Armenia teeternig. My favourites however are the Romanian flutturi ( because butterflies are fluttery! ) and the Nigerian olookolombooka (ooh look! – a lombooka!)
I encourage people to participate in the butterfly census if they are able to. The next one will be held from October 19 – October 27, 2013. It’s a great way of measuring the health of our ecosystems. The rest of us can simply adopt awareness regarding butterflies and the need to garden without pesticides wherever we can.