We’ve seen the incredible difference prosthetics and transplants can make for people in need, but it seems impossible for them to help something as small as an insect.
That’s where Katie Van Blaricum comes in. She’s made a career of turning bugs into works of art — and saving their lives.
While the Kansas-based artist mostly works with dead insects, she makes an exception for butterflies with damaged wings. Their situations may sound hopeless, but Katie has the ability to patch them right up.
Using superglue and donor wings, Katie carefully replaces their injured parts, making it possible for them to fly again!
The “butterfly surgeon” performed her first successful transplant on a monarch years ago. “I have a friend who works at a butterfly conservatory, and I have seen his ‘Frankenstein’ butterflies flying around there, so I knew it was possible,” Katie told Bored Panda. So she consulted him (and the Internet) and developed this amazing new skill!
A local zoo eventually learned about Katie’s unique area of expertise and began sending her injured butterflies to doctor. Thankfully for us, Katie recently posted a video of one of her “patients” to demonstrate her process.
These mini transplants take just a few minutes! “This one was deformed out of the chrysalis, so I did a wing transplant,” she wrote. “Hoping he can fly tomorrow.”
You can see where Katie cut off part of the original wing and glued on the donor piece. She said the butterflies aren’t hurt at all, though “you have to work fast to avoid stressing the butterfly out any more than necessary.”
This particular butterfly spent a few days recuperating before Katie released it. Thanks to her efforts, it had no trouble flying on its way!
Katie hopes her story will encourage people to have compassion for all living creatures. “I am very much inspired by people like Steve Irwin whose passion it was to make the world love the underappreciated animals,” she said. “Once they come to know and understand them, most people can find something to love about insects!”
Katie is making such a difference with her unique talents and teaching us more is possible than we imagined! If you’re curious to see other facets of her work, check out her creations on Etsy and Insect Art.
Watch one of Katie’s transplants in the video below, and be sure to share with others! You never know who might need help saving a butterfly.
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