This artist is setting a new expectation for the phrase “save the butterflies”.
Romy McCloskey is a costume designer who put her needleworking abilities to the test when she rescued a 3-day-old monarch butterfly from certain death by fixing its shredded wing.
McCloskey, who is the proud mother to a garden full of monarchs, first found the baby bug in her backyard last week. While monarch butterflies usually have a lifespan of 2 to 6 weeks, this newborn insect had suffered a deformity while it was pupating in the chrysalis.
Upon determining that the mutation wasn’t due to a parasite, McCloskey took the injured baby into her “operating room” and grabbed her surgical supplies: a towel, a coat hanger, contact cement, a toothpick, tweezers, a cotton swab, scissors, talc powder, and an extra butterfly wing from one of her other recently deceased backyard bugs.
The designer used the coat hanger to secure the body of the butterfly against the towel so it would not struggle while she was attaching the wing. She then cut away the ragged part of its wing to make way for the replacement – and if you’re worried about the butterfly at this point, McCloskey assures her reader that cutting butterfly wings is the equivalent of trimming hair or fingernails.
She then attached the extra butterfly wing to her young patient so that it was virtually good as new.
McCloskey posted photos of the healthy butterfly to Facebook with the caption reading: “You can see that the black lines on his upper right wing don’t match up 100%, and if you look at his lower right wing, [it] is missing the black dot that indicates male gender. Oh, and the white on his wing is the talc used to make sure any stray glue doesn’t make the wings stick together.”
Just to make sure that her patient had made a healthy recovery, she let it rest for a day before giving it some homemade nectar and taking it into the backyard for a little joy ride on its new wing – and judging by the butterfly’s exuberant first flight, the surgery was a huge success.
“A quick spin around the backyard, then a little rest on one of the bushes… then… like the down of a thistle… off he flew! My heart soared with him, for sure!” said McCloskey.
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Reprint (Photos by Romy McCloskey)