Broken and Tattered Butterfly Wings

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How fragile are butterflies?
Gulf Fritillary butterfly with broken wings
A Zebra Swallowtail butterfly with worn wings
A Zebra Swallowtail butterfly with transparent wings
Gulf Fritillary butterfly
Zebra Swallowtail butterfly
Zebra Swallowtail butterfly
Transparent wings
Spicebush swallowtail butterfly with tattered wings in Florida
Spicebush swallowtail butterfly with tattered wings in Florida
Palamedes Laurel swallowtail butterfly with tattered wings in Florida
Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly
with broken wings
Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly
with tattered wings
Palamedes Swallowtail butterfly
worn with age
The butterflies above were photographed in the wild. They were all flying without problem when they were photographed. The Zebra Swallowtail flew 26 feet into the air to land on the side of a three story house whe it flew from my hand. The Spicebush Swallowtail was flying in the garden for three days after these photos were taken.

Butterflies are NOT as fragile and dainty as we believe.

Wings break and scales come off their wings. Their wings do not grow back. Their scales do not grow back. But relax! We have watched butterflies fly with 75% of their wings missing.

The good news is that butterfly wings will and do break. If they did not break, they would often be eaten for lunch instead of flying away from a predator leaving a piece of their wings in its beak, mouth, or claws.