Depending what time of year they’re born, Monarch butterflies can live from 2 weeks to about 5 months, but this guy’s time was threatened to be cut even shorter. Luckily, Romy McCloskey was there to help. “I fell into raising butterflies by accident when I found 3 caterpillars on a bush in my front yard,” she told Bored Panda. So after one of her darlings got injured, Romy knew she had to help. McCloskey turned her home into an operating room and used common household items to perform a wing transplant.
“I have always had a love for butterflies,” she said. “They have a very personal meaning to me. 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.'”
Romy McCloskey is a professional costume designer and master hand embroiderer, so this was right up her alley. Her supplies included a towel, a wire hanger, contact cement, a toothpick, a cotton swab, scissors, tweezers, talc powder, and an extra butterfly wing from one of her little girls that died a few days before.
According to McCloskey, there’s no need to drug the butterflies when performing such a procedure. She compared their wings to human nails or hair: “They do not have pain receptors.”
“[P.S.] I feel it is important to note that the butterfly sustained his injury during pupating into his chrysalis. It was not a genetic defect or deformity due to the Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) parasite that fatally infect Monarchs. I did have a lot of people asking why I would ever introduce inferior or defective genes into the butterfly gene pool. I had to explain to many that I did not. In fact, any caterpillars or butterflies that are infected with OE or Tachinid fly (T-fly) larva must be euthanized to stop any further contamination in the Monarch population.”
Scroll down to check out how the surgery went!