This costume designer has a special affinity for butterflies. She takes in caterpillars to care for, then sets them free after they become butterflies. One day, she found a young monarch with a broken wing. To help it survive, the designer decided to perform “surgery” on it.
Romy McCloskey, a professional costume designer from Texas, has a special reason for her love and care for butterflies. Before her mother succumbed to cancer, she told McCloskey something she wouldn’t forget.
“I have always had a love for butterflies,” McCloskey told Bored Panda. “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.’”
McCloskey, also a master of embroidery, started to take care of caterpillars from last fall when she found some in her yard. She brought them inside to make sure they could be safe from predators and other natural dangers. After they grew into butterflies, she then let them fly away.
“I fell into raising butterflies by accident when I found 3 caterpillars on a bush in my front yard,” she said.
And thus was her hobby born—to raise caterpillars and release them when they have wings.
Recently, she found a 3-day-old monarch with a severely damaged wing, which was injured in the pupating phase, the final stage before an adult butterfly hatches from its chrysalis.
McCloskey brought the butterfly in, intending to raise it until it died. Before long, she learned from one of her friends that butterfly wings could be repaired.
Being a master of embroidery, McCloskey believed she could do a good job on “operating” on the little life. She prepared all she needed to repair the butterfly’s wings: a towel, wire hanger, contact cement, toothpick, cotton swabs, scissors, tweezers, talcum powder, and an extra butterfly wing from one that died a few days before.
She then put the injured butterfly between a loop in the wire hanger and cut away the damaged part of its wings. The cut is not painful because there are no pain receptors in the wings. McCloskey said it’s like getting a haircut or trimming fingernails.
Then she “transplanted” the other wing pieces onto the trimmed wings, using the contact cement and a bit of glue. After the procedure was done, the monarch looked just like a complete and healthy butterfly. McCloskey fed it with nectar and let it rest for one day.
The next day, she brought the butterfly outside to see if the “operation” was successful.
“I was nervous for him, but encouraged him as one would their child learning to ride a bicycle,” McCloskey told the Dodo. “I was amazed and relieved to see him make his first lap around the yard.”
It rested on one of the bushes once but then flew away again. McCloskey’s heart was filled with joy.
“I felt really happy. And happy doesn’t adequately describe it. I have no other words. I soared with him for sure,” she said.