and thank you for your interest in helping to fix a broken butterfly
you can restore flight
it is "relatively" easy
you do not need a medical degree.
Read this page at least twice...then, get to work!
- Take a deep breath and remember this is a delicate butterfly
and it may not realize that you are helping. Your first time may prove a challenge.
- Carefully capture your patient and place it in a suitable
container free from sharp edges. I use a glass as pictured.
- Place glass in refrigerator (10 minutes maximum). This will
slow down the butterfly to enable you to better position it
so as to do a perfect job. Emphasis on perfect! (Glass also
stays cool in transit to work area.) Butterflies are cold blooded so when chilled they are more relaxed or at least much slower.
- Prepare your work area and tools.
- Dim the lights or work in the evening when the
patient is naturally resting. In dim light they are naturally calmed.
- Have on hand two pairs of tweezers one to hold
patient still and one to manipulate small objects. Very important! without tweezers this is much too difficult for most.
- Have fresh contact adhesive,<Contact adhesive
is the kind of glue that you separately paint each surface
then join both together for permanent bond after
each has dried. Found at most auto part stores.>
- tooth picks
- good quality scissors
- Q-tip and powder
<Any type powder is fine>
- An assistant is
advised on your first case.
- Place patient carefully on a flat towel and place first
pair of tweezers over wings as pictured to hold butterfly
down and imobolize wings. (No Flapping)
- Gently reposition broken wing if availiable so that veins
match original configuration. (If original wing is severly
damaged or missing all that is needed is a suitable replacement
and to cut off old wing near base being careful to leave sufficient
portion to reattach new wing) This is the only reason I keep
dead butterflies in my home.
- Match all new wing components and ensure there is a perfect
fit. You may substitute slightly different butterfly wings
if necessary...size is important. Spread a very thin layer
of adhesive on the different matched sides using the tooth
pick. Be very careful not to slop or let the butterfly flap
its wings or it will fuse them together. Contact adhesive
is permanent. (It works by attaching to itself when dry on
each glued surface...a one shot deal!...but the best method
I have found.)
- You may need a reinforcement strip as pictured (small strip
of index card) Do not use too big a piece! Overlap repair
by one eighth inch. Too much weight on one side will cause
problems in flight, remember balance keeps them in the air.
- Ever so slowly line up the veins and touch the pieces together.
Then press all pieces firmly with your finger and dust repair
with Q-tip and powder to eliminate the possibility of sticking
if more than one wing was fixed or any stray adhesive is on
- Check range of motion carefully...make sure you did not
glue any back hairs to the wings. Use tweezers and scissors to check for
and remove any mistakes.
- If you used other wings or have a slightly damaged butterfly
with up to 30% of one wing tip gone you may simply snip the
other tip to match and flight should be restored. Else you
need to take the few minutes to repair the damage as described
above. Most butterflies can fly with large portions of wing missing or damaged so cutting both wings to match will fix many grounded butterflies without the need to glue on new pieces. Even if you can not restore flight to a healivy cripmled butterfly the removal of the nuisance wings will be a great help.
- Thank patient for cooperation and give suitable nectar source
to help give them a much needed energy boost. Many damaged
butterflies are unable to get food but once able to fly are
back to normal.
- Give your self a big Thank You, You just saved a butterfly
from certain starvation and have allowed it to once again
flutterby and continue its circle of life.
Tips: Go Slow and be certain you have restrained your
patients wings or portions thereof. A large Monarch can lift
a tweezers with no problem so use a weight to hold tweezers
and wings in place.
The smaller the piece of wing attached to the butterfly the
stronger it can flap that piece. It is like a lever and on a
big Monarch you will be surprised how strong they really are.
Some butterflies have very delicate wings and extreme care
must be taken to be gentle and not add undue weight to their
wings. Especially the swallowtails...hold the viens as they
are the support for the large wing area. A frantic butterfly if held incorrectly may tear its wings so always stay relaxed and keep your little friend cool and calm.
Practice on a dead butterfly first if you are concerned about
your skill level. This is not an easy task if you do not have
good hand control or clear eyesight. Some butterflies do not
have enough wing left to even attempt a fix and in cases like
this a wingless living butterfly is still a living creature
and should be assisted to find food. We have had such a butterfly
mate successfully and even walk around our enclosure to feed
itself and lay many eggs.
If you dont have matching replacement wings most will work,
just be as symetrical as possible.
True Story: It is not every day that I fix a wing and
sometimes only one a month. But one Monarch had me particularly
busy. Butterflies remember. One morning as I was tending the
garden, I was attacked, well not really, but this broken winged
monarch kept charging my leg. I put my arm to the ground and
it fluttered gently to my hand. Well this butterfly knew who
to ask for help. (I usually place the newly emerged butterflies
on their first flower.) If you are nice to them they can imprint
on you and seek you out. 10 minutes later he was fixed with
bright new wings and off he went zooming around the flight house
like Evil Kineval. The next morning he was back...at the kitchen
door knocking into it...getting my attention. Ok new wings again
and a warning! Off he flew again like a bat out of hades crashing
into every butterfly in the aviary. We found him buzzing outside the
screened enclosure in our lawn two days later, when they severly shorten their wings you can hear them flapping much faster. How did he get
out? You guessed it broken wings again. My first repairs intact however.
This was a crazy butterfly! But he had personality!!! He was
again repaired and given a huge pair of wings. He seemed particularly
impressed and decided to use my shoulder as his perch for the
next two hours. He flew off gracefully and we saw him often
for weeks. To this day every time a butterfly zooms around in
a wild manner we think of our "Lucky" and know his
children are well taken care of.
Experience of Founder Live Monarch - Christopher
Caterpillar raising- Click here for common questions and our
answers to your problems.
to you heroes who have read this page and helped their butterflies
regain flight. We applaud your efforts. We also hold in very high esteem all the dedicated people that care for all sorts of Natural wildlife. Thank You. LMF
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