Thursday, 3 May 2018

Tweezers and talcum powder: butterfly wing transplants take flight in New Zealand

Insect lovers are going to extraordinary lengths to give injured butterflies an extra few weeks of life

Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin
Tue 1 May 2018 03.51 BST Last modified on Tue 1 May 2018 06.17 BST

New Zealand’s love affair with the monarch butterfly has reached bizarre new heights, with some devotees performing wing transplants on the insects to give them a few extra weeks of life.

Although the butterflies are not classified as threatened or endangered, some lepidopterists have carried out the unusual surgery using techniques picked up from YouTube.

The operations involve removing the deformed or injured wings and repairing or fitting a new one from a dead monarch using tweezers, superglue and talcum powder.

On average monarchs live for between two to six weeks.

The operation is not painful for the butterfly, but experts and conservationists say the outcome for the animal is unknown, and efforts would be better directed towards cultivating flowers and plants that would attract and aid the wider population.

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