Rescue
Outdoorsy fisherman grabs for his bottle of superglue to help save a butterfly’s life
Meet Cole, lover of the outdoors and self-taught butterfly surgeon.
Luis Gaskell
10.13.21

You’ve probably seen a few videos of people operating on wild animals by now.

It’s not easy for veterinarians – let alone any average Joe.

Yet the internet is loaded with adorable rescue videos of people saving animals like cats, dogs, iguanas, and birds. But insects?

Insects are another story.

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Meet Cole and Jay.

Cole and Jay are an outdoors-loving couple with over 195,000 subscribers on YouTube. The pair seem to be animal lovers and are pretty experienced with handling fishes, reptiles, and invertebrates. It’s ta large them on their YouTube channel. But this particular video garnered the couple a lot of attention.

In the video, Cole holds up a Monarch butterfly with a torn wing.

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Its left wing bears a nasty torn edge, leaving the butterfly unable to fly. Somehow, it was lucky enough to have met Cole. Cole informs the audience that his family had raised Monarch butterflies in the past.

First, Cole sets the butterfly down and safely restrains it with a special tool.

Then he goes to get a replacement wing from a donor.

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Luckily, Cole’s got plenty. And he definitely knows what he’s doing.

From a young age, Cole learned about butterflies from his mother.

Everything from their particular species to how to ID them in the wild. He recalls being outdoors with his mom searching for butterflies, often coming across specimens that were deceased.

Whenever they came across butterflies who had reached the end of their lives, Cole would collect them for future purposes. In particular, this purpose: wing transplanting. As a college student, he’d seen a video of someone replacing a live butterfly’s wing and later researched the topic himself.

First, the donor wing.

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After safely restraining the butterfly, Cole grabs the rest of his equipment: super glue and a toothpick.

The donor wing he is using is roughly 6 years old – which is way longer than a Monarch’s typical lifespan.

Generally, these butterflies only live for two to six weeks.

Monarch butterflies, in particular, have rapidly declined in number during the past two decades or so. This is why people like Cole are doing their best to help save the species.

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Climate change is a major factor in the Monarch’s population decline. The best we can do to help them is to combat climate change by limiting warming as much as possible and increasing protected areas for species like the Monarch. You don’t have to play Dr. Insect Surgeon on every single butterfly to help. Not that it’d be necessary anyway.

“I’m going to trim off this delicate, jagged edge here and make it a clean cut,” Cole explains in the video.

With the replacement wing in hand and the superglue ready, it’s time for the magic to happen.

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With surgical precision, Cole gently applies the superglue with a toothpick.

He lightly lines the broken wing’s edge and prepares to glue on the replacement wing.

It’s not a perfect fit since the donor butterfly was a wee-bit larger than this one, but it should still work okay.

The final touch is some baby powder.

That’ll really help the glue set in and acts as a sort of “seal” for the few millimeters of wet superglue.

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The video then shows what looks like a humble clothes hamper. Really, it is a special kind of insect “hotel.” These temporary insect homes are usually made with wood, but repurposed net hampers work just as well. The butterfly hangs in the hotel while the glue dries.

Now, for the moment of truth.

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Cole brings the butterfly outside after the wing transplant is complete. It is now time to let it back into the wild.

Cole helps it get its confidence back with a little hand launch.

And up it goes! Bye-bye, little buddy!

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Seeing it fly, you’d never have known that it had ripped a wing only a few days ago. That says a lot about Cole’s skills – and the resiliency of Monarchs.

See Cole’s amazing rescue in the video below!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

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By Luis Gaskell
hi@sbly.com
Luis Gaskell is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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