Common Jay butterfly rescue project!

Found a common Jay lying on the mud with crumpled wings last night, in our backyard in Hyderabad, India. One wing is completely folded back on itself. My young daughter got it home and the weekend is going to be spent trying to make it comfortable. It’s now been placed on a wishbone flower plant, where it is just hanging on and not moving much. Earlier we had put it on the flowers of a miniature exora bush for the night but it fell off and was crawling on the mud in the morning.

Have placed a small sponge dipped in sugar water close to it, not sure if it will explore and find it. From what I have read up it seems like an eclosion defect. Would be great if someone can share any similar experience and tips to help it!

looks like someone stepped on it, my guess is that a surgery can be performed which take some technical mind to recreate that wing and replace the folded one. Well all you can do is take a nice are of this butterfly till the day it die, then give it a small funeral and bury in ground, I know it will be hard for your daughter but nothing else is possible, I am sorry :(

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It looks like it didn’t molt correctly with wings hardened in this position.


yeah that can also be the case

Yes doesn’t seem to be much that can be done. Thank you!

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Looks like an eclosion issue, and possibly /also/ someone stepped on it.

More than likely, you can’t fix the wings. The deformities near the base aren’t really reparable. If it was just the tip that was deformed, you could replace that (or just cut it off, butterflies can function very well missing a bit of a wing), but not so much this.

However, you can keep it an enclosure with a sugar water sponge and some branches to climb on, and it should be reasonably comfortable. I personally euthanize butterflies with wings this deformed, since they can’t function as an animal and will probably be eaten or starve shortly, but keeping one until it lives out its natural lifespan is doable.


Thanks! Yes sugar water and honey water sponges, and some flowers and twigs till it dies I guess. I did not know about eclosion defects prior to finding this butterfly but apparently they seem to be unfortunately common

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If you want to help it by unfurling the wings, don’t bother. It probably suffered an accident during the eclosion process, and once the wings have hardened there’s no changing it.

So, you can either keep it as a temporary pet, or just leave it outside and let itself be an advert for a free meal.

EDIT: If you do want to keep it as a pet, you can try hand feeding it by gently (too hard and you may temporarily paralyse it) holding the thorax so the wings dont flap about and then using a thin stick to unfurl its proboscis into a shallow dish of sugar water (from personal experience).


Yeah, at this point it’s not fixable. A butterfly with wrinkled still-soft wings can be moved to a better place to hopefully expand its wings properly on its own, but this is stuck.

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sugar water is fine but I don’t think honey water is fine because in nature they do not eat honey so it can have sideffects. I was reading how to attarct sunbirds in the house they make flower like container and put cotton thread inside connecting to sugary water source, they clearly stated that honey water is not fine for them

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Noted, thanks!

Does anyone know about the frequency of such eclosion effects in general and in Jays in particular?

Thanks @robotpie and @fishkeeper. Will try if the sponge does not work out for the sugar water.

If nursing the butterfly is not working well, possibly consider releasing it to the wild. You may find this is an opportunity to tell the kids about the beauty of the circle of life and how the butterfly may supply another (say, a bird) with a much needed meal to help that bird survive and/or feed it’s babies.


Update! It sipped successfully from the sponge!!



It’s the 8th day today and the common Jay is doing better than we ever expected. Can’t fly of course and can’t right itself if it falls on its back, but otherwise comes for its daily sugar water sponge feed and generally walks around the flowers, twigs and leaves we keep spread around. Have given it an inverted sieve basket cover for the night and it just climbs up along the inside of that every evening and hangs from the top till the morning.

It climbs up my daughter’s finger as soon as she offers it now, and gets a ride and some supervised sessions on different plants. It’s still not very stable by itself when put on top of plants/flowers, and seems to prefer to get back onto the finger!!

I feel - hope - that it is reasonably comfy and doing ok for as long as it can manage to live. Many thanks for the thoughts and suggestions offered on this thread!



Final update: The butterfly died after 3 weeks with us. I am not sure exactly how long Common Jays survive in the wild, but this seems to be about the average lifespan of the adult.

It was a transformative, learning experience for all of us, and I am so glad my daughter brought it in and nursed it through!


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