two tailed swallowtail butterfly

by Mattie

My husband just came home from a walk with a very beautiful but injured two tailed swallowtail butterfly. It can't fly, it's wings looked crumpled as they won't open completely. From what I've found so far on the internet this happens to some butterfly's before their wings dry. Does this sound correct?
Please let me know if you have any suggestions on how I can help this butterfly. It is absolutely beautiful and I would love to help it however I can. Please let me know any suggestions of food, surroundings, temperature etc.
My sincere thanks!

Karen says:
I have heard of newly emerged swallowtails whose wings do not seem to fully open, but have not found a specific reason (monarchs often have OE, a virus, which causes this but as far as I know swallowtails don't get this). You can feed the butterfly Juicy Juice, Gaterade or a sugar/water mixture (8 to 1 - boil water and add sugar until dissolves then cool). Here is what one of my visitors did with her butterflies that couldn't fly.

"I just have to say it's so nice to see other people such as you that genuinely care about the life of these creatures.

I too had a large number of Monarchs that looked fine but didn't fly. Sad because I could tell some of them really wanted to and would flutter and try so hard. Breaks my heart...

Since I couldn't kill them, I ended up feeding them as you.....I used sugar water, liquefied banana etc. and fed them by a cotton swab soaked in the mixture, then tickling their proboscis until they would unroll their proboscis Due to their balance problem I also had to support and tip their bodies forward. Once 'contact' and interest had been shown, I had to very slowly pull the swab away with the proboscis staying connected until their proboscis was fully extended. I'm certainly no authority and not sure this is a good thing to do or not. I just know I had to do something rather than just watch them dehydrate and starve.

Now's the really corny part------I'm such a softie I had these 'special needs' butterflies ride around on my shoulder as I'd go about my gardening, walks with my dog,or even driving and going shopping. Seems to me that any living creature requires some variety in experience and environment . They were free to leave anytime. if I sensed they wanted to, I helped them perch on a plant, but most seemed content as they didn't leave their 'perch' throughout a whole day.

At nightfall, I placed them on plants safely inside the house. It was surprising that they would always cooperate, grab the perch and rarely move the whole nite through...sleeping.? And the next morning they'd be ready to go again. Nursing home residents loved my visits at this time.
Actually these served as perfect messengers of
their plight! I had many opportunities to tell people all about their struggles and the cause of these.

Sadly, most lived only 3-5 days. I'd like to think I somehow helped them enjoy their short time among us a little bit more than would have otherwise occurred. Who knows."

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Swallowtail Butterfly Unable to Fly
by: Anonymous

We just found the most beautiful bright yellow swallowtail butterfly on our driveway yesterday. It was a nice day so we thought perhaps he was just hatched and drying his wings. But he stayed there all day. We moved him onto a flower bush. When evening came, he was still there. We felt so bad so I researched about what to feed him. we brought him in and put him in our daughter's butterfly habitat that we had. I fed him sugar water drenched on a white papertowel. Today he is up and moving but he still can't fly. He had some damage to his wings but no too bad. I am not sure why he can't fly. I was going to take him out again today and see if I could release him. Any ideas why he can't fly? We felt so sorry for the poor little guy, didn't want him to starve. For now, he lives with us and we will continue to allow him opportunity to fly away. If not, he will just be a very loved pet in our home until his life is done. We hope he knows we tried!

Karen says:
It seems I have had a lot of questions about swallowtails not being able to fly. I have not been able to find out a specific reason why that happens, though. It could be that it just didn't form properly inside the chrysalis or has a virus of some kind. I have noticed in raising black swallowtails that it seems to take longer than a monarch for the swallowtail butterfly wings to dry. I usually just put them out on a flower anyway after a few hours. You could do that or just continue to keep the butterfly inside, feed it and enjoy it until it dies. Hope this helps.

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