How to Repair a Broken Butterfly Wing

November 24, 2008 · Print This Article · Email This Post

Mike Parwana of New York Holding a Splinted Monarch Butterfly Which Had a Broken WingWe’re fortunate to live along a monarch butterfly migration path. Every fall, thousands of them flutter through our backyard, headed south for the winter. We always thought that a butterfly with a broken wing was a sad sight, but one which we could do nothing about. We were wrong! Jeannette Brandt was bike riding near Hadley, in the southern Adirondacks of New York, a few weeks ago when she spotted an injured monarch butterfly and took it home in an empty water bottle. Brandt and her partner, Mike Parwana, fed the butterfly rotting pears and water sweetened with honey. The butterfly survived, and fattened up. But what to do about the broken wing? The butterfly needed to complete its migration to Mexico for the winter.

Female Monarch Butterfly Feasts on MilkweedThe couple found a video demonstrating butterfly wing repair which was posted by the nonprofit Live Monarch Foundation website of Boca Raton, Florida. Contact cement and tiny cardboard splints did the trick. In another week, the butterfly was flying at the couple’s home. But by then, it was too cold in upstate New York to release the monarch into the wild. Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) are known for their 3,000 mile migration from Central Canada to the Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve in the Mexican state of Michoacan Mexico. But this migration is usually finished by the end of October, and it was mid-November (Butterflies west of the Rockies overwinter in central coastal and southern California, especially in the towns of Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz.).

About a week ago, the resourceful couple put the monarch in a shoebox and went to Scotty’s, a truck stop north of Albany, NY. Eventually, a good-natured trucker from Alabama, who was headed to Florida, volunteered to chauffeur the monarch to the Sunshine State. Last Tuesday, the trucker called. The butterfly with the mended wing had been released in Florida, now free to join the millions of other monarch butterflies migrating south to the mountains of central Mexico.

Monarch ButterflyAccording to CNN, there are about 100 million less overwintering butterflies this year as compared to last year. Milkweed, on which the monarch lay eggs, is in short supply in many locations. And monarchs can’t survive their long journey without milkweed. The Live Monarch Foundation offers milkweed seeds and plants for sale, and provides many other tips on providing a butterfly-friendly environment.
Live Monarch Foundation
Or, read about another random act of kindness

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