Woman Helps Broken Wing Butterfly in First Flight


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Butterflies are among nature’s most adorable creations, but not the most. Romy McCloskey, though, has a strong reason to value them more than other people.

Credit: ROMY MCCLOSKEY

Sadly, Romy lost her mother to cancer several years ago. Before she passed, however, her mom reassured her that her spirit would linger on after.

“She told me, ‘Romy, don’t worry. Whenever you see butterflies, just know it’s me checking in on you to let you know I’m OK, and that I love you,’” Romy told The Dodo.

But rather than merely depend on encounters with butterflies, Romy has since taken it upon herself to make sure the world has more of them. Whenever she finds caterpillars in her garden, Romy brings them inside to grow and metamorphosize safe from predators and other threats.

Then she lets them go.

Credit: ROMY MCCLOSKEY

Romy has successfully raised and set free dozens of butterflies. But recently, one emerged from his cocoon needing an extra helping hand.

This butterfly’s upper and lower wings on one side had come out torn. Although he was otherwise healthy, that malady meant he could never fly or survive on his own.

Credit: ROMY MCCLOSKEY

Romy stated, “I couldn’t bring myself to put him down.” “I decided I’d feed him till he died and keep him inside,” the writer said.

But afterwards, she had another thought.

When Romy’s friend heard about the predicament, she mailed her a repair manual for butterfly wings. In order to prepare, she gathered the tools she would require: a towel, a wire hanger, contact cement, a toothpick, cotton swabs, scissors, tweezers, and talcum powder.

Romy had preserved the remains of another butterfly that had perished. She would create a transplant wing from this.

Credit: ROMY MCCLOSKEY

Gently securing her delicate patient between a loop in the wire hanger, Romy then carefully cut away the damaged portion of his wings.

Credit: ROMY MCCLOSKEY

Though this might seem like a painful procedure, it’s actually not. Trimming damaged wings to make repairs is rather like getting a haircut.

Credit: ROMY MCCLOSKEY

Next, using as much care and precision as possible, Romy glued pieces from the transplant wing into place with the contact cement. Once secured, a few sprinkles of talcum ensured that any unwanted stickiness around the edges would be lessened as it dried.

With that, the butterfly was looking almost good as new.

Credit: ROMY MCCLOSKEY

The butterfly’s big moment came after a day of post-op recuperation and a substantial breakfast of nectar given by Romy. He got to utilize his new wings for the first time outside.

I was worried about him, but I supported him much like any parent would a youngster learning to ride a bike, Romy recalled. “When I saw him complete his first circuit around the yard, I was thrilled and relieved.”

Credit: ROMY MCCLOSKEY

After that initial lap, the butterfly then alit on a branch.

Credit: ROMY MCCLOSKEY

Romy said, “When he landed, I feared I’d have to take him back in. But just as I was ready to grab him, he took off running. I was quite joyful. And “happy” doesn’t quite capture it. I am at a loss for words. Without a doubt, I flew with him.

Because of the solace they provide for her, butterflies will always have a particular place in Romy’s heart. It is only appropriate that she reciprocate the favor by giving them something in return. And as a result, the world becomes more lovely.

Credit: ROMY MCCLOSKEY

I tell them I love them and wish them luck on their trip with every one I release, Romy added. It’s very amazing to witness something develop and change before your eyes.


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