Call me a wimp, but it breaks my heart to see a butterfly, lethargic and struggling, on its last wings, so to speak. It makes me feel beyond helpless. So I was surprised to learn recently that there are things one can actually do to help out a butterfly in distress. Who knew? I have to say, this made me very happy, if not a little guilty about the butterflies I’ve unwittingly left in the lurch in the past.
If you find a butterfly with a torn wing, you can tape it! I kid you not. You can try to carefully use a small bit of lightweight transparent tape to mend the wing. This may allow the butterfly to fly again and to live long enough to reproduce–it may even let it live out its normal lifespan.
Another good trick, according to my butterfly bible, The Family Butterfly Book, written by Rick Mikula (whom I like to call the Butterfly Whisperer): You can feed a weak or injured butterfly a diluted sugar water; sometimes just plain water can be enough.
Follow these steps:
1. First of all, learn how to handle a butterfly. (Rubbing the powder off the wings will not prevent it from flying.) Be sure that your hands are dry. With your thumb and index finger, grasp the butterfly by the wings just above the body and as close to the butterfly’s shoulders as possible. Very light pressure is needed. If the butterfly seems agitated, turn it upside down. This will immediately calm it down.
2. Place the patient’s feet on a moistened pad that has been saturated with feeding solution (mix one teaspoon of sugar in one cup of filtered water).