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Observations placeholder

Watson, Lyall - Vanessa Butterfly migration



Type of Spiritual Experience


So let me ask the questions.  Why do they migrate at just that time?  How do they know when to migrate?  How do they all know to migrate together [after all they can’t talk or ring one another up]?  How does a butterfly fly at all [according to some scientists it is aerodynamically unstable]?  How does it know where to go?  How does it navigate?

Aaah says our clever biologist, all in the genes.  Well no, it can’t be, I’m afraid.  Genes are hardware, nothing this complex can work through genes.  So let’s try again.  Here we have our robot butterfly.  Our small inanimate piece of hardware.  We’ve given it ‘life software’, we’ve given it ‘feeding software’, now it needs to migrate to avoid the winters and lack of food.  It is unstable in flight just like the planes used in the military and only capable of keeping to the air using special software, so it’s software is highly specialised.  Some answers….

Why do they migrate at just that time?   Because the software that is their ‘migration program’ interacts with the software that is the ‘weather or seasons’ software and triggers the migration software to start operating.

 How do they all know to migrate together?  Because they have software that enable them to intercommunicate without needing to talk much as we may use a wireless network, they have their own butterfly wireless network - all software with its own telecommunications software

 How does a butterfly fly at all?  Butterfly flying software as complex as a jet fighter’s.

How does it know where to go?  How does it navigate? Navigation software [probably common to a number of species such as birds, fish, whales, and so on] linked in to the systems/software  for magnetic polarity, earth currents, moon, sun and stars and so on.  As we need to imagine that all these things – sun, moon, stars, earth’s core, are all controlled by software too, I hope you will start to see that there is a giant interlinked system that enables the software which controls migration to inter-communicate with the software that operates these objects.  Just like our navigation systems.

A description of the experience

Lyall Watson – Heaven’s Breath

W H Hudson watched Vanessa butterfly migrate across the pampas in Argentina and calculated that 65,000 insects passed over every 100 metres during the flight, ‘which lasted from nine o’clock in the morning to a little after five in the afternoon.  The breadth of the column was about three miles.  On the following day they continued for about seven or eight hours passing in the same number, then the numbers began to decline and on the third day the whole migration finished’.  He decided that he had watched the passage of 75 million individuals.

William Beebe, in a break from bathysphering stood in the narrow Portachuelo Pass in Venezuela and tried to count the butterflies pouring through it from the coastal plain.  He estimated a minimum of ‘a thousand a second going past in the face of a gentle breeze.  In the narrow trail above the gorge it was necessary to put on glasses so dense were the crowds impinging on our faces .. for many days this continued, millions upon  millions coming from some unknown source, travelling due south to an equally mysterious destination’.  He found that there were at least 245 species of butterflies involved, along with another 52 kinds of day flying moths.

The source of the experience

Watson, Lyall

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps