Linda Powell: Ruddy Copper Butterfly
Linda K. Powell
Few American butterflies rival the brilliant beauty of the male Ruddy Copper. His wings are a bold, fiery copper hue, unlike the muted purple and bronze shades of some of his relatives. As he flies through the meadows and fields that are his home, the Ruddy Copper looks like a prized jewel that has sprouted wings. There can be little doubt that poet Mary Butts had the Ruddy Copper in mind when she wrote, "Atoms of color thou hast called to life / (We name them butterflies) float lazily / On clover swings, their drop of honey made / By thee, dear queen, already for their need." This vivid butterfly which has inspired memorable poetic verse, is well known in areas where the sagebrush is plentiful such as open prairie. But, despite his large numbers in areas of the Northwest United States ... and his well-known beauty ... the Ruddy Copper's life cycle remains a great mystery. In fact, even though the Ruddy Copper's brilliant beauty has dazzled eyes for decades, the butterfly remains an intriguing enigma that has thus far eluded the understanding of modern science. Perhaps it is the mystery of his early life ... or maybe it is merely his extraordinary beauty ... but the Ruddy Copper is a favorite wherever he makes his home in the countryside.
This painting was originally published on the Fleetwood® Commemorative Cover for the "Butterflies of the 50 States", postmarked July 10, 1982.
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