Presented by: Chimacum Middle School

Live monarch butterfly Hospital

Butterfly Hospital +We care!

This page is a step by step lesson in helping to fix a damaged wing. Watch a video or read.

Patient in Glass Waiting Room. Doctor is in. As usual patient has no insurance.

Patient is cooling down in highly specialized refrigerated room. Note milk in background.

Proper restraint and imobilization of the squirming patient. STAY CALM this can be tricky!

Patient with reinforced wing. Note veins are aligned!

The patient regains flight and will use you as its flight pad. That is my hairy arm it is clinging to. It is at this point the butterfly realizes you have really done a good service and thanks you. It knows-trust me.

Our patient two weeks later. Notice our repair is intact. This butterfly successfully mated and never slowed down a bit.

This Monarch was also restored during the same session. It had damaged enough of its wings to merit a whole new set. Notice the powder near its head. This butterfly also has quite a life with its new wings. Both he and his fellow repairee are still flying around our gardens as of this writing.

Mending a butterfly may not make you rich...or will it?

Take a moment to appreciate Nature so that Nature may appreciate you.

Hello and thank you for your interest in helping to fix a broken butterfly wing!

  • Yes, you can restore flight
  • Yes, it is "relatively" easy
  • No, you do not need a medical degree.

Read this page at least twice...then, get to work!

  1. 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.
  2. Carefully capture your patient and place it in a suitable container free from sharp edges. I use a glass as pictured.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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)
  6. 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.
  7. 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.)
  8. 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.
  9. 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 the butterfly.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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 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

Advanced Caterpillar raising- Click here for common questions and our answers to your problems.

Congratulations 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 Staff

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