The Butterfly People, or the Butterfly People of Joplin are enigmatic creatures reportedly appearing during the events of the EF5 tornado that befell on Joplin, Missouri, on May 22, 2011.
On May 22, 2011, a devastating tornado hit the town of Joplin, Missouri, leveling the buildings and killing around 158 people. To those that survived, the children of the families would share stories about humanoid creatures that they nicknamed the Butterfly People. While many children shared their story, one recurrent element is that as they were in the brink of death, the Butterfly People manifested before them, protecting them from the falling debris of the tornado. Some have also accredited seeing the Butterfly People carry off any of those close to death to the afterlife.
Many theories have circulated as a result of this phenomenon. Most skeptics believe that the stories are a result of mass hysteria, where stress from the near-death experience would cause people to believe that they are seeing something supernatural before their eyes. This can also explain many other instances of people sharing their stories of supernatural encounters such as seeing angels during tragedies such as the destruction of the Twin Towers in the September 11, 2001 attacks. It should also go without saying that the town exists within the religious belt. As such, the idea of there being a miraculous explanation behind many of the near-death experiences could be explained away as a result of predetermined belief.
Believers of the unnatural phenomenon believe that the Butterfly People are in truth angels, but because the children were still developing, many believe that they instead perceive them as Butterfly People because they couldn't visualize what they would perceive an angel to be. Prior to the tornado, a mural artist visited the town to start a new project. After the storm, he arrived to a town meeting to find some volunteers. Thousands of volunteers offered to lend a hand, a majority of them being children who drew several pictures depicting the Butterfly People. Despite some skepticism, the artist saw that the Butterfly People represented a rebirth of sorts to the town.
- Some believe that the Butterfly People are related to some degree to the Mothman.