Color Swarm

a swarm of neon butterflies

Timothy had read the websites, watched the videos, and heard his cousin Marcus tell him all about the colorbugs, but it was still hard to see the brown, lumpy cocoons as anything more than dirt. According to the guides, his brood should have begun to hatch as soon as a few days ago, but it could be another whole week before the window closed for the season. The anticipation was eating him up inside. Sometimes he'd stare at the terrarium for so long he'd think he saw a cocoon wiggle a little bit, but he wasn't convinced his mind wasn't just making things up out of boredom.

He almost didn't notice the soft scratching noises as he lie in bed one morning. A flash of color in the corner of his sleepy eyes sent a thrilling jolt through his system, and he was out of bed before he knew it. The brood was hatching! There was a blue one, and two yellows already, and over there was an orange and a green poking out. It was finally happening. Months of waiting, checking humidity and temperature, and preparing for disappointment all gave way to a flood of excitement, color, and vindication. Wanting to fully immerse himself in the moment, Timothy opened the terrarium and let the colorbugs spill out into the room. More and more cocoons were splitting open, and soon the air was full of fluttering, colorful wings.

One blissful moment later, the advice he'd read came ringing back in his ears. After months of growing and changing, these colorbugs were ready to eat, and Timothy couldn't let them get accustomed to eating indoors or they'd never survive. With a bittersweet, responsible sigh, Timothy opened the window and let his new flock take to the wind. He tried his best to look at each and every one, while wishing them all good luck and telling them to stay safe. The flying confetti of colorbugs caught the attention of neighbors, and apparently Timothy's mom who appeared in the doorway to his room. "Sweetie, your colorbugs hatched. How wonderful! They are so pretty, and I bet they were happy to have someone like you take care of them while they got ready for the world." Timothy nodded, but his gaze remained locked on the sky out his window. "Are you OK, Timothy? Letting them go was hard, but it was the right thing to do. I'm proud of you."

Timothy turned with a hopeful smile. "Oh, I know mom. The whole point was to let them live. But if I can talk Charlie and Tabitha into nursing a brood, and we all do another one next year too, soon there will be enough colorbugs for a wild population. Then the whole neighborhood gets to watch them hatch every year. Can you imagine, all that color fluttering up from the fields and the trees?"