There are millions of different ways we can choose to improve the world we live in. A woman who makes jewelry from real insects, helped a Monarch butterfly fly again by repairing its wings.
She is an expert at repairing butterfly wings, doing wing transplants, and making sure that these beautiful insects are restored to glory. The entire process requires patience, dexterity, and a real passion for butterflies.
Katie Van Blaricum is from Topeka, Kansas. She is the founder of Insect Art, an online store that specializes in the aesthetic mounting and display of insects for wall art, as well as custom insect-centered jewelry.
She explains that she finds it easy to repair the wings as she mostly works with passed away insects for a living. She adds that it usually takes her less than 5 min to undergo a repair.
She has to work fast to avoid stressing the butterfly more than necessary.
Katie explained that she has a friend who works at a butterfly conservatory, so as she has seen his “Frankenstein” butterflies, she knew it was possible. Yet, she asked him for advice, and also browsed the internet.
Monarch butterflies are also known as milkweed, the common tiger, the wanderer, and the black veined brown. They have a wingspan between 3.5 and 4 inches (8.9 to 10.2 centimeters).
Katie stated that she has always been interested in insects and wildlife, and her business has been around for about 14 years now. She buys and sells insect specimens for art and science, and all of them come from sustainably farmed sources.
She makes jewelry from insects by rehydrating them and making them look natural. Each piece of jewelry takes her several days, but the end result is unique.
She added that she took some entomology classes in college, but her degree was in Anthropology. She maintains that her favorite thing about insects is their diversity.
Katie also said that she is inspired by people like Steve Irwin “whose passion it was to make the world love the underappreciated animals.”
Helping animals and helping people understand animals is a long-term passion of this woman. She has volunteered for wildlife rehab for more than ten years, and she is a docent at the local zoo. She has also volunteered at animal shelters, and volunteering at public monarch butterfly tagging events exposed her to “butterfly surgery.”
She posted photos of the way she helped the insect in need, and she got more than 35,000 likes, 33,000 shares, and 4,00 comments. She wrote:
“I don’t usually do live butterflies, but now the zoo found out that I can and they’re bringing me patients. This one was deformed out of the chrysalis, so I did a wing transplant. Hoping he can fly tomorrow.”
The process involves cutting off the damaged part of the wing and then supergluing on a replacement. Since her first “patient” in 2013, Katie estimates she has saved five butterflies with her surgeries.
Luckily, the Monarch butterfly had regained its strength and was able to fly again!
“The most important message I try to convey is: insects are more important than you realize. You don’t have to love insects to respect their place in nature.”
Moreover, “if we don’t conserve them, then many other animals will go down with them.”
Katie Van Blaricum, The Founder Of Insect Art, Has Helped A Monarch Butterfly By Repairing Its Wings
The Transplant Was Successful
The Butterfly Regained Its Strength After The Transplant
Butterfly update: it’s storming here today, so no release planned. He can fly a bit, but not as much as I’d like to see. Perhaps he just needs to get his strength up. Here he is, eating. You can see the proboscis collecting nectar from this sponge. His proboscis is like a straw. Fun fact: Monarchs taste with their feet!
Posted by Insect Art on Saturday, September 21, 2019
It Flew Into The Sky!
Butterfly update: the repaired Monarch got away from me today! Flew up high in an oak tree, so he’s off. Godspeed! (I had been taking him to some flower gardens outside, to see what he could do. Until now, I had always re-captured him and brought him back home.)
Posted by Insect Art on Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Katie Has Been Assisting Butterflies For Years
Step-To-Step Guide On How To Assist A Butterfly!
Watch The Video Here:
Butterfly Wing repair video, at your request. Honestly, this is probably the worst job I have ever done on a live butterfly (new wing isn’t perfectly straight), but it will show you how the process is done, so you can try it yourself if you ever have to.
Posted by Insect Art on Thursday, September 26, 2019
People’s Reactions To The Transplant