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Friday, August 6, 2021

Gatty - The Butterfly - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Even as the nearby state park remains closed due to tree damage from last week's storm, I was delighted to receive this hopeful nature-related email this week -- I've a butterfly story and resource following it : 

We have exciting news! Bayer, the manufacturer of the pesticide Roundup, has announced that it will be removing glyphosate, the pesticide's main active ingredient, from all its lawn and garden products as early as 2023.1

Thank you

This announcement is a much-needed victory for our monarchs.

The widespread application of glyphosate has decimated the milkweed plant -- the only plant monarch caterpillars will eat. The loss of this crucial food source has contributed to an 80 percent decline in eastern monarch populations and a shocking 99 percent decline of western monarchs.2,3,4

Glyphosate harms more than monarchs, too. A study demonstrated that glyphosate poses a threat to 93 percent of all endangered species, and the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer has labeled the chemical "probably carcinogenic to humans."5,6

Bayer's announcement represents an important first step toward protecting human health and our pollinators -- and it would not have been possible without supporters like you. You've stood with us as we've organized for years to ban glyphosate. In the last year alone, you've sent more than 30,000 messages to the Environmental Protection Agency and your state legislators calling for a ban on this harmful pesticide.

Your dedication has led to real change that can help turn the tide for our country's embattled monarch butterflies -- but our fight isn't over yet.

  • Next, we'll work to make sure Bayer doesn't just replace one toxic chemical with another, and actually reformulates Roundup in a way that's proven safe by independent research.
  • We'll continue working to remove glyphosate from agricultural pesticides to build a more sustainable food system.
  • We're still calling to ban the worst uses of neonicotinoids, another class of pesticides that has been linked to pollinator die-offs.

Thank you for making this all possible -- now let's look forward to what else we can accomplish together.

The Environmental Action team

P.S. We'll keep organizing until our pollinators, and our planet, are safe, but we need your help to keep our campaigns running. Will you donate today to keep our campaigns for monarchs, bees and more going strong?

1. "Bayer takes additional $4.5 billion charge for Roundup suits," Associated Press, July 29, 2021.
2. Claire Fahy, "California's Monarch Butterflies Are Down 99%. Can This Plant Help?," New York Times, June 1, 2021.
3. Warren Cornwall, "The Missing Monarchs," Slate, January 29, 2014.
4. Olga R. Rodriguez, "Monarch butterfly population moves closer to extinction," Associated Press, January 19, 2021.
5. Sam Bloch, "New EPA finding: Glyphosate harms 93 percent of endangered species," The Counter, December 2, 2020.
6. "IARC Monograph on Glyphosate," International Agency for Research on Cancer, last accessed December 22, 2020.

Your donation will be used to stand up for wildlife and the wild places they call home, and to support all of our campaigns to protect our environment. The generosity of people just like you is what makes all of our work possible.

On a personal level I will always wonder if my Lymphoma back in 2013 was caused by groundwater contaminated by years of living next to a farmer's cornfield.

I also want to sound the alarm on that final bullet point about neonicotinoids killing off our pollinators.  Often called "neonics", their use is banned in the European Union because the EU recognized their threat to bees.  Our pollinators are critical to our agriculture, affecting not only plants, but those who eat plants, be they cattle or people.  A concise explanation of this information comes from the American Chemical Society's Chemical & Engineering News.  Exposure to neonics poisons a bees' central nervous system, causing a 45.5% loss this past year -- the second highest loss of honeybees on record.  The good news is neonics aren't needed and its sale is now banned in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, and Massachusetts.  To find out how your state is doing and send a request to your governor about this you can write your own email or use the link at

All right, I'll get off my online soapbox now and present the story.  Following it, I direct you to a really great resource, useful beyond just the topic of butterflies.

This butterfly story comes from Ada Skinner's The Emerald Story Book.   It's written by Margaret Gatty, an English naturalist, marine biologist, and author of children's literature.  Like many women authors in the 19th century, she wrote using her husband's married name, writing as Mrs. Alfred Gatty.  Since her husband was a minister, this probably was needed at that time.  By all means read the linked article on her, especially about her personal life.  You may also recognize her daughter, Julia Horatia Ewing, if you're familiar with 19th century children's literature.  She followed her mother's writing path and was well regarded by such authors as Rudyard Kipling and E. Nesbit and additionally influenced the Baden-Powells.  I'm uncertain which of Gatty's books contained this story.  What I could find online didn't include it.  I'm grateful it's in The Emerald Story Book.


                                Mrs. Alfred Gatty

“Let me hire you as a nurse for my poor children,” said a Butterfly to a quiet Caterpillar, who was strolling along a cabbage-leaf in her odd lumbering way. “See these little eggs,” continued the Butterfly; “I don’t know how long it will be before they come to life, and I feel very sick and poorly, and if I should die, who will take care of my baby butterflies when I am gone? Will you, kind, mild, green Caterpillar? But you must mind what you give them to eat, Caterpillar!—they cannot, of course, live on your rough food. You must give them early dew, and honey from the flowers; and you must let them fly about only a little way at first; for, of course, one can’t expect them to use their wings properly all at once. Dear me, it is a sad pity you cannot fly yourself! But I have no time to look for another nurse now, so you will do your best, I hope. Dear, dear! I cannot think what made me come and lay my eggs on a cabbage-leaf! What a place for young butterflies to be born upon! Still you will be kind, will you not, to the poor little ones? Here, take this gold-dust from my wings as a reward. Oh, how dizzy I am! Caterpillar, you will remember about the food—”

And with these words the Butterfly drooped her wings and was gone; and the green Caterpillar, who had not had the opportunity of even saying Yes or No to the request, was left standing alone by the side of the Butterfly’s eggs.

“A pretty nurse she has chosen, indeed, poor lady!” exclaimed she, “and a pretty business I have in hand! Why, her senses must have left her, or she never would have asked a poor crawling creature like me to bring up her dainty little ones! Much they’ll mind me, truly, when they feel the gay wings on their backs, and can fly away out of my sight whenever they choose! Ah! how silly some people are, in spite of their painted clothes and the gold-dust on their wings!”

However, the poor Butterfly was gone, and there lay the eggs on the cabbage-leaf; and the green Caterpillar had a kind heart, so she resolved to do her best. But she got no sleep that night, she was so very anxious. She made her back quite ache with walking all night round her young charges, for fear any harm should happen to them; and in the morning says she to herself—

“Two heads are better than one. I will consult some wise animal upon the matter, and get advice. How should a poor crawling creature like me know what to do without asking my betters?”

But still there was difficulty—whom should the Caterpillar consult? There was the shaggy Dog who sometimes came into the garden. But he was so rough!—he would most likely whisk all the eggs off the cabbage-leaf with one brush of his tail, if she called him near to talk to her, and then she should never forgive herself. There was the Tom Cat, to be sure, who would sometimes sit at the foot of the apple-tree, basking himself and warming his fur in the sunshine; but he was so selfish and indifferent!—there was no hope of his giving himself the trouble to think about butterflies’ eggs. “I wonder which is the wisest of all the animals I know,” sighed the Caterpillar, in great distress; and then she thought, and thought, till at last she thought of the Lark; and she fancied that because he went up so high, and nobody knew where he went to, he must be very clever, and know a great deal; for to go up very high (which she could never do) was the Caterpillar’s idea of perfect glory.

Now in the neighbouring corn-field there lived a Lark, and the Caterpillar sent a message to him, to beg him to come and talk to her, and when he came she told him all her difficulties, and asked him what she was to do to feed and rear the little creatures so different from herself.

“Perhaps you will be able to inquire and hear something about it the next time you go up high,” observed the Caterpillar, timidly.

The Lark said, “Perhaps he should;” but he did not satisfy her curiosity any further. Soon afterwards, however, he went singing upwards into the bright blue sky. By degrees his voice died away in the distance till the green Caterpillar could not hear a sound. It is nothing to say she could not see him, for, poor thing, she never could see far at any time, and had a difficulty in looking upwards at all, even when she reared herself up most carefully, which she did now; but it was of no use, so she dropped upon her legs again, and resumed her walk round the Butterfly’s eggs, nibbling a bit of the cabbage-leaf now and then as she moved along.

“What a time the Lark has been gone!” she cried, at last. “I wonder where he is just now! I would give all my legs to know! He must have flown up higher than usual this time, I do think! How I should like to know where it is that he goes to, and what he hears in that curious blue sky! He always sings going up and coming down, but he never lets any secret out. He is very close!”

And the green Caterpillar took another turn round the Butterfly’s eggs.

At last the Lark’s voice began to be heard again. The Caterpillar almost jumped for joy, and it was not long before she saw her friend descend with hushed note to the cabbage bed.

“News, news, glorious news, friend Caterpillar!” sang the Lark; “but the worst of it is, you won’t believe me!”

“I believe everything I am told,” observed the Caterpillar, hastily.

“Well, then, first of all, I will tell you what these little creatures are to eat”—and the Lark nodded his beak towards the eggs. “What do you think it is to be? Guess!”

“Dew, and the honey out of flowers, I am afraid,” sighed the Caterpillar.

“No such thing! Something simpler than that. Something you can get at quite easily.”

“I can get at nothing quite easily but the cabbage-leaves,” murmured the Caterpillar, in distress.

“Excellent! my good friend,” cried the Lark, exultingly; “you have found it out. You are to feed them with cabbage-leaves.”

Never!” cried the Caterpillar, indignantly. “It was their mother’s last request that I should do no such thing.”

“Their mother knew nothing about the matter,” persisted the Lark; “but why do you ask me, and then disbelieve what I say? You have neither faith nor trust.”

“Oh, I believe everything I am told,” said the Caterpillar.

“Nay, but you do not,” replied the Lark; “you won’t believe me even about the food, and yet that is but a beginning of what I have to tell you. Why, Caterpillar, what do you think those little eggs will turn out to be?”

“Butterflies, to be sure,” said the Caterpillar.

Caterpillars!” sang the Lark; “and you’ll find it out in time;” and the Lark flew away, for he did not want to stay and contest the point with his friend.

“I thought the Lark had been wise and kind,” observed the mild green Caterpillar, once more beginning to walk round the eggs, “but I find that he is foolish and saucy instead. Perhaps he went up too high this time. Ah, it’s a pity when people who soar so high are silly and rude nevertheless! Dear! I still wonder whom he sees, and what he does up yonder.”

“I would tell you if you would believe me,” sang the Lark, descending once more.

“I believe everything I am told,” reiterated the Caterpillar, with as grave a face as if it were a fact.

“Then I’ll tell you something else,” cried the Lark; “for the best of my news remains behind. You will one day be a Butterfly yourself.

“Wretched bird!” exclaimed the Caterpillar, “you jest with my inferiority—now you are cruel as well as foolish. Go away! I will ask your advice no more.”

“I told you you would not believe me,” cried the Lark.

“I believe everything that I am told,” persisted the Caterpillar; “that is”—and she hesitated—“everything that is reasonable to believe. But to tell me that butterflies’ eggs are caterpillars, and that caterpillars leave off crawling and get wings, and become butterflies!—Lark! you are too wise to believe such nonsense yourself, for you know it is impossible.”

“I know no such thing,” said the Lark, warmly. “Whether I hover over the cornfields of earth, or go up into the depths of the sky, I see so many wonderful things, I know no reason why there should not be more. Oh, Caterpillar! it is because you crawl, because you never get beyond your cabbage-leaf, that you call any thing impossible.”

“Nonsense!” shouted the Caterpillar, “I know what’s possible, and what’s not possible, according to my experience and capacity, as well as you do. Look at my long green body and these endless legs, and then talk to me about having wings and a painted feathery coat.”

“You would-be-wise Caterpillar!” cried the indignant Lark. “Do you not hear how my song swells with rejoicing as I soar upwards to the mysterious wonder-world above? Oh, Caterpillar; what comes to you from thence, receive, as I do, upon trust.”

“That is what you call—”

“Faith,” interrupted the Lark.

“How am I to learn Faith?” asked the Caterpillar.

At that moment she felt something at her side. She looked round—eight or ten little green caterpillars were moving about, and had already made a show of a hole in the cabbage-leaf. They had broken from the Butterfly’s eggs!

Shame and amazement filled our green friend’s heart, but joy soon followed; for, as the first wonder was possible, the second might be so too. “Teach me your lesson, Lark!” she would say; and the Lark sang to her of the wonders of the earth below and of the heaven above. And the Caterpillar talked all the rest of her life to her relations of the time when she should be a Butterfly.

But none of them believed her. She nevertheless had learnt the Lark’s lesson of faith, and when she was going into her chrysalis, she said—

“I shall be a Butterfly some day!”

But her relations thought her head was wandering, and they said, “Poor thing!”

And when she was a Butterfly, and was going to die again, she said—

“I have known many wonders—I have faith—I can trust even now for what shall come next!”


I don't have a week to wait for permission to print here, but you can go to free coloring sheets where you can find a Butterfly mask, Butterfly clip on a clothes pin, a very challenging Butterfly mandala, an appropriate page with both Butterfly and Caterpillar, and a few more pictures.  While there you can also find lesson plans and crafts.  The Butterfly crafts include two types of Butterfly puppets which can be used to help tell this story.  If you're able to take the story outside, there's a Butterfly kite.  Clicking "All" shows coloring sheets, lesson plans, crafts, and creations submitted by young artists.  Don't stop with the Butterfly topic, similarly they have a wide variety of themes.  Their site constantly adds to their resources, so it's an excellent resource to know and use.

One quick note here: I discovered a typo on the label of past posts about butterflies making it "butterfllies."  I corrected it for this post.  Now I am going to have to see if there's a way I can correct the label on the earlier posts so they can stay together.


This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

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