Monday a friend left a strange message for me. She said that she found a Monarch at the park with a broken wing and could I help her fix it. She said to call her at the hospital. What? She went to the hospital to get a butterfly wing fixed. Well no, she was visiting her step son and wanted me to call right away. I arranged to meet her on Tuesday and told her to keep the butterfly quiet so she wouldn't break her wing further--place her in a dark, cool room.
Tuesday finally arrives and she came over. My friend Denise Gibbs (a Naturalist at Black Hill Regional Park and also an incredible Monarch butterfly person) taught me to use the extra white and orange tags on the tagging kits that Monarch Watchs sends out to fix wings. They work great and don't weight the butterfly down too much. The butterfly had a problem with one of her upper wing in the middle on the edge. It was breaking. Over half the wing was beginning to break. It is almost like an elbow joint in that section. But, an elbow that doesn't bend.
Okay, got one tag on and the butterfly takes off in my house. We capture her without further damage and apply a second tag. One tag on the top part of the wing and one on the bottom. The wing is fixed. We go out to see if she can fly. She flew up into a tree and stayed there the whole time my friend was visiting. We decided to release her at my house because I have a lot less European Hornets. At the park in the butterfly garden, European Hornets are attacking the large butterflies that are nectaring there. Some are killed and the others have damaged wings. My friend leaves, that is after I find my binoculars and she makes sure the Monarch and its wing are still okay.
The next day, I look around for the Monarch with the two tags on its wing, but I don't see it. Later in the afternoon a male carrying a female whizzes by. Two other males are after him. They must want the female, too. He evades them with some incredible flying. The female hangs below and then I see it. The flash of orange and white tags. It's her. He carries her off. Later, he flies down with her and he is nectaring. During mating, he does give her nutrients. I note that she is balancing herself as he nectars, so the female isn't just being carried, she is also helping.
Wonder how long the wing fix will last with all that rough housing.
Maybe she'll get to lay some eggs soon.