Tiger Swallowtail Funeral

by Carlbiker
(Minnesota, USA)

I was bicycling near the St. Croix River in Minnesota on a country road when I saw a flock of several tiger swallowtails fluttering near the roadside. I paused to take in the sight, never seeing more than one swallowtail at a time before, when I noticed a fallen swallowtail on the pavement near me. With a touch of sadness & a sense of gratitude for seeing a flock of swallowtails, I pedaled off down the road about another mile, then decided to turn around & head back. When I arrived at the spot of the swallowtails, still fluttering, I stopped in my tracks; there, on the pavement, were two swallowtails who had apparently lifted their dead comrade onto their wings, side-by-side, and were walking across the road with it to the mown grass. They continued walking carefully across the grass (all the while the others were still fluttering around the area, as if watching for traffic, or perhaps, mourning), then into the safety of the tall weeds, where they gently separated & lowered their comrade to the ground. The two then walked back to the mown grass, fluttered their wings & took flight, joining the others in an intricate flight pattern of ever-widening spirals. Finally, they all dissipated into the countryside on their own journeys.
It was as if I'd witnessed a sort of funeral procession, or ritual.
Has anyone else had a similar experience?

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Saw something similar
by: Anonymous

Yesterday I was walking and I saw a monarch carrying a motionless monarch by the top of its wings. It was fluttering around from flower to flower in the brush of the seagrass and wildflowers by the shore like all the other butterflies but he was carrying that dead butterfly with him the whole time.

I stopped and watched him for the longest time. Occasionally another monarch would flutter around him and circle him as if looking at him and his comrade curiously. I went on my way and when I came back at the end of my walk, he was still there, carrying the dead butterfly. I took it as he was carrying his friend out of respect, like perhaps this is a spiritual ritual done out of respect and mourning. It was really beautiful and sad at the same time because I could feel that butterfly's mourning over his loss.

I saw a similar experience not long ago: a cabbage white butterfly was resting in the grass and another cabbage white butterfly came up to him and "pecked" him a couple of times, hovering around him as if concerned. The butterfly finally flew up into the air and they circled each other a few times and then went their separate ways, joyfully fluttering in my garden. It was as if he was making sure the resting butterfly was ok! It was a beautiful thing to witness.

Butterfly funeral

Thank you for your post I have 2 Red Admirals that I wondered whether they were in some sort of hibernation but they are dead. I now know what to do with them. They are so graceful aren't they?

Butterfly funeral
by: Julie

I have seen a similar event twice. A long time ago a friend witnessed several Monarch butterflies carrying a fallen comrade into the air, along w/ other butterflies flying alongside. Today I witnessed 1 lone butterfly carrying it's fallen comrade into the air from a tree branch. I don't know what kind of butterfly they were. At first I thought they might be mating, until I realized that the other was completely motionless.

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