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How do you help a butterfly with wet wings?, Publiek Park, Friends of S.M.A.K. museum, Ghent


Gent SMAK Kristaps Ancāns

“That’s specific to all parks. The [gay] scene is always there. Otherwise it isn’t a park.” Els De Vos, The Citadelpark. A specific node in a network for (queer) desire," in D.Ferens, ed-,

Out Here: Local and International Perspectives in Queer Studies (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge

Scholars Press, 2008)

Wing Development

When butterflies first emerge from their chrysalis, their wings are wet and wrinkled. This occurs due to the tight space of the chrysalis when the caterpillar is metamorphosing. After hatching, the butterfly hangs upside down, flapping its wings to straighten and dry them. The pumping action helps blood flow through the wings, too. It takes about a day for the wings to fully harden, though the butterflies may be flying within an hour or two.

Causes of Wrinkling

Any number of things can lead to deformed wings or prevent the wings from opening up properly. A butterfly's wings are very soft when it first emerges from the chrysalis. If the butterfly falls to the ground, it runs the risk of damaging its wings, causing them to become malformed. If a butterfly chrysalis that's being stored for release at a wedding or butterfly house and hatches early, it may not have enough room to fully expand its wings in the storage container. Additionally, the butterfly may have a defect, such as poor blood circulation to the wings, preventing their opening.


When the butterfly first emerges you can help it by providing a safe area with plenty of room to move around. Some like to create butterfly houses with netting for the butterflies to cling to when they land. Should a butterfly fall to the ground and have trouble turning over, hover a piece of paper towel over its legs. The butterfly should cling to the paper towel and pull itself upright. Once the wing are completely dry, they are set and nothing can be done to straighten them. You can, however, provide the butterfly with a home and food for the rest of its life.


When you have a butterfly with crinkled wings, it's best to take it in and provide a home for it. A large clear container or cage with mesh screen will keep the butterfly out of trouble. Place plenty of leaves, flowers and twigs in the cage for the butterfly to cling to and crawl over. Feed the butterfly with a solution of 2 parts honey and 8 parts water. Soak a sponge in the solution and place it in the cage. The butterfly should find it and start drinking the fluid.

(Information from )

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