Butterfly found, not harmed but won't fly

by Zoe
( Sunshine Coast, Australia)

My daughter found a butterfly. It will not fly, although the wings look fine. It stays on her hand but when she tries to attach it to a leaf or branch it topples off. It won't walk either. What could be wrong with it and how can we help it. Thanks for your time.

Karen says:
If she found it right after it emerged from its chrysalis, the wings maybe weren't dry. It takes a while for the wings to dry and the butterfly to fly. If this isn't the case, it could possibly have some kind of virus or disease that affected the wing formation. In that case you could try and feed the butterfly Gaterade, Juicy Juice or sugar-water nectar (1 part sugar, 10 parts water - boil water and add sugar to dissolve).

Comments for Butterfly found, not harmed but won't fly

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Butterfly Found Can't fly
by: Melissa

Hi! I too found a butterfly on my patio 2 days ago, going around in circles with it's wings open. I assumed it had a hurt leg, but couldn't understand why it couldn't fly. I got out our "Butterfly" house from a kit we did a couple years back with our girls. I mixed up some sugar/honey with spring water, placed her on the wet paper towel and when she wouldn't eat, I used a toothpick and gently unrolled her proboscis to the nectar. She ate, rolled up her proboscis, and closed her wings. It seems she stayed just like that overnight. The next day I let her out to see if she could fly, to no avail, but her 4 legs look fine, as do her wings. She crawled onto my hands, I again placed her on her fresh nectar soaked towel, added some Lantana and fresh fruit, but she just doesn't move around a lot. Is there anymore I can do to help this beautiful creature? I just can't determine what the problem is, but I want to keep her safe, hydrated, and happy even if she can't fly. What are your expert thoughts?

Karen says:
I think you did all you could to try and help this butterfly. Thanks for caring!

Thnx, but sad news.
by: Zoe

Thnx for getting back to us. We did research more through your site yesterday and found that mix to try and give the butterfly. We used the sugar and water mix. It seemed to try and drink, and flapped its wings a lot. Unfortunately when Zoe woke up this morning the butterfly had passed away. Her and her twin are very upset but have had a lovely couple of days trying their hardest to make it better and keeping it safe and comfy. Sad lesson but also I'm very proud of their kind hearts towards all living things. Thanks again for your help.

Karen says:
Thanks for sharing your story and yes, there are many lessons for kids (and adults!) to learn through the hobby of raising butterflies - the beauty and wonder of God's creation, experience of life and death, responsibility in caring for a creature and so many more. Also it's just plain fun :)

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