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Butterfly gets a helping hand -- and a repaired wing

November 21, 2008 |  3:56 pm

Monarch butterflies

From the Associated Press:

LAKE LUZERNE, N.Y. — A monarch butterfly has a chance at completing its species’ famed migration to central Mexico thanks to some tiny cardboard splints, a bit of contact cement and a trucker from Alabama.

The insect’s broken wing was painstakingly splinted by an upstate New York couple who then helped it hitch a ride south after the weather in the southern Adirondacks turned cold.

About three weeks ago, Jeannette Brandt was out for a bike ride in rural Hadley when she spied the injured butterfly and took it home in her emptied water bottle. She and her partner, Mike Parwana, fed it rotting pears and water mixed with honey from bees they keep. The butterfly fattened but the question remained: What about the broken wing?

A search of the Internet turned up a nine-minute video demonstration posted by the Live Monarch Foundation, a nonprofit group from Boca Raton, Fla., on how to fix a broken butterfly wing. A little contact cement on the wing, some tiny cardboard splints, and the bruised butterfly was back in business. [The monarchs pictured here were photographed after making it back to Mexico.]

"It was still weak. It was another week or so before it would fly," Parwana told the Post-Star newspaper of Glens Falls. On Sunday, the couple took the healed monarch in a shoebox to Scotty’s, a popular and busy truck stop about 35 miles north of Albany.

Anybody looking for company on the trip south? "And all these truckers looked down at their shoes," Parwana told the newspaper. "If you ever want to feel strange, walk into Scotty’s and just put it out there that you want them to take a box south." Eventually, a trucker from Alabama, on his way to Florida, raised his hand. On Tuesday, the trucker called: The butterfly was loose in Florida with its mended wing.

File photo: AFP/Getty Images

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