We always think of butterflies as delicate insects. But they are not the fragile and dainty creatures we imagine, but are much stronger and resilient than we believe. Butterflies are real survivors.
Butterflies’ wings wear and their scales come off as they brush against objects while foraging. Courting often causes bits and pieces of a butterfly’s wing to chip off. And when attacked by a predator, a butterfly’s wing will break off allowing the butterfly to escape. Better a broken wing than serving as someone’s lunch.
I was amazed to learn that a tattered butterfly can fly and function with two thirds of its wings missing, although they are not as swift and graceful as an undamaged butterfly.
The pictured buckeye (Junonia coenia) from Eagle Lake CA and the mylitta crescent (Phyciodes mylitta) from Burney Falls Park CA both show damage to their wings.