Tech & Science

Photos: Woman Helps Injured Butterfly By Repairing Its Torn Wings With Glue So It Can Fly Again

butterfly 1
The butterfly wing was damaged as a result of injury, not a genetic defect or deformity. Photo Courtesy of Romy McCloskey

A costume designer in Texas saved the life of a young butterfly by repairing his damaged wing and allowing the creature to fly for the first time. The woman replaced the injured wing with the intact wing of another butterfly that had recently died, and has wowed the internet with her impressive DIY skills.

Costume designer Romy McCloskey began nurturing caterpillars last fall when she noticed a few in a bush in her garden. Over several months she fed and looked after the caterpillars with the hopes of releasing them as full-grown butterflies when they finished their eventual metamorphosis.

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Earlier this month the butterflies began to emerge from their cocoons. One of the butterflies injured its wing while pupating, rendering it unable to fly. Without repairing the wing, the creature would surely die. Here’s where McCloskey stepped in.

"Using very small needles, thread, beads and delicate fabrics, I felt very comfortable doing this,” McCloskey told Newsweek. “It was right up my alley! The act of fitting a butterfly with a new wing was like making a couture garment.”

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butterfly 2 The butterfly operation was very delicate, but did not cause the creature any harm. Photo Courtesy of Romy McCloskey

McCloskey operates out of Faden Design Studio in The Woodlands, Texas, and was able to use her skills as a costume designer to carefully replace the damaged wing with an undamaged wing from a butterfly that had died a few days earlier. McCloskey held down the three-day-old butterfly with a clothespin and trimmed away the edges of his damaged wings, explaining that clipping the wing did not hurt the butterfly and was similar to getting a haircut or clipping your fingernails.

She then carefully applied the wing from the dead butterfly to the one which had been born with a damaged wing. The operation was a success. Although McCloskey explained that the wings do not match 100 percent, and also the wing from the female donor is missing the black dot marking that males have, it was enough of a match to allow the insect to fly again.

butterfly 3 The wings may not match up perfectly, but they still allowed the little fellow to fly. Photo Courtesy of Romy McCloskey

According to McCloskey, helping the butterfly to fly had an even deeper sentimental meaning to her.

“Before my mother died, almost 20 years ago, she said to me, ‘Romy, whenever you see a butterfly, know that I'm there with you, and that I love you,'” McCloskey told Newsweek. “It was this late summer when I found a few caterpillars on a bush I had in the garden, I took them in and cared for them. When it was time to let them free, I could certainly feel my mom with me.”

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