Photo: A kaleidoscope of butterflies gathers for winter

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Lucky SMK Photo to have encountered this bevy of beauties gathering for the winter at Ardenwood Park, in Fremont, California. And it begs the question, what is a group of butterflies called? Collective nouns for animals are a curious quirk of linguistics; more folksy than scientific, they are nonetheless evocative and poetic – why should all animals be relegated to a world of flocks and herds?

Butterflies seem to have inspired a whole host of group names, including the following:

  • A kaleidoscope of butterflies
  • A swarm of butterflies
  • A flutter of butterflies
  • A wing of butterflies
  • A flight of butterflies
  • A rabble of butterflies
  • A rainbow of butterflies
  • Although Shakespeare might argue that a name is irrelevant ... "What's in a name? that which we call a rose/By any other word would smell as sweet" ... I'd say that when nature is disappearing before our very eyes, it can and should be elevated by twists of language and a dash of poetry. And so a kaleidoscope of butterflies it is.

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