Some people rescue kittens or dogs or horses, other people rescue butterflies. One woman is using the most unlikely measures to save butterflies, and she never expected to be doing so.
The founder of Insect Art began her career making jewelry from real insects, only to realize she’s an expert at repairing butterfly wings on live specimens.
The process is incredibly meticulous and takes a good deal of patience but taking a butterfly that cannot fly and giving it back its wings makes it all worthwhile.
Meet Katie VanBlaricum, the founder of Insect Art, from Topeka, Kansas. Her craft never involved live butterflies until her local zoo discovered she had a special talent and they started sending her patients.
“It is not difficult for me to repair the wings since I work with dead insects for a living. It takes me less than 5 minutes to do the repair. You have to work fast, to avoid stressing the butterfly out any more than necessary,” she explained in an interview with Bored Panda.
“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. I asked him for advice, as well as consulting the internet,” Katie elaborated.
Shortly after she conducted the transplant, the butterfly began showing signs of regaining strength. Within a day he was already flying around a little and eating.
A succesfull transplant!
“I have always been interested in insects and wildlife,” Katie shared. That’s what inspired her to start her Insect Art business around fourteen years ago.
The talented artist, and part-time butterfly surgeon, makes a living buying and selling insect specimens for art and science. “They always come from sustainably farmed sources,” she adds.
In college, Katie took her fair share of entomology classes, although her degree was in Anthropology.
“My favorite thing about insects is their diversity. Any shape or color or behavior you can dream up, there’s an insect for that! I am very much inspired by people like Steve Irwin whose passion it was to make the world love the underappreciated animals.”
Katie admits that many people don’t like insects, but she thinks that’s because they haven’t taken the time to get to know them. “Once they come to know and understand them, most people can find something to love about insects!”
Eventually her sweet little patient flew off, off and away!
Katie has volunteered at wildlife rehabilitation centers for over ten years. In addition, she’s a docent at her local zoo. She shares, “helping animals and helping people understand animals is a long-term passion of mine.”
Katie shared that insects aren’t the only creatures she’s adamant about helping. She’s also saved kittens who wandered onto the road, as well as many other cute and cuddly furballs.
A few years back, Katie successfully completed her first wing transplant.
Her original patient was born struggling to fly due to a deformity.
“This one was deformed out of the chrysalis, so I did a wing transplant. Hoping he can fly tomorrow,” Katie posted to her Facebook page.
Her post received more than 34,000 likes and 32,000 shares, along with 3,800 comments.
Even better, the insect recovered quickly and was able to fly perfectly.
As for Katie’s jewelry, she uses deceased insects by rehydrating them so that they look lifelike again. It takes her several days to make each piece of unique jewelry.
You can see her step-by-step guide on how to repair a broken butterfly wing in the photos below:
The Monarch butterfly goes by several different names including milkweed, the common tiger, the wanderer, and the black veined brown.
The Monarch butterfly generally has a wingspan that measures between 3.5 and 4 inches. Often mistaken as a Viceroy butterfly, Monarchs are distinctly different. Viceroys come in similar patterns and colors but that are much smaller with an extra black stripe that stretches across each hindwing.