FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show An ‘Endangered Starry Butterfly’?
An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows an “endangered starry butterfly.”
No such butterfly exists, according to experts. The image is the work of an artist.
The May 10 Facebook post features an image of a butterfly that appears to have translucent, sparkling wings perched on a piece of vegetation. Text above the image identifies the creature as an “Endangered Starry Butterfly.”
No such butterfly appears to actually exist, however. Check Your Fact found no information regarding the “starry butterfly” online, except other news outlets debunking its existence. The butterfly does not appear in the butterfly catalogs of the Smithsonian or butterfly-conservation.org.
A spokesperson for the Lepidopterists’ Society, a group that “promotes the study and appreciation of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)” confirmed to Check Your Fact in an email that the “starry butterfly” is not real.
“Nothing exists similar to that in nature,” the spokesperson said. “That is either a bad photoshop job or a model of some sort.” (RELATED: Does This Image Show Real A 7-Headed Snake?)
Leslie Ries, an associate professor of biology at Georgetown University who studies butterflies, said in an email: “There are 20000 species of butterflies – but I have definitely never heard of this or seen anything like this.”
The wings of the butterfly appear to have been digitally manipulated. Through a reverse image search, Check Your Fact found the image of the butterfly without sparkling wings in a 2012 blog post from nature photographer Stephen Powell. That image shows the butterfly with partially translucent, white wings and no sparkles. Powell identifies the butterfly as a “Black-veined White,” a butterfly which is listed on the Butterfly Conservation website.
The altered image appears to be the work of Instagram “crystal artist” Sara Shakeel. The image of the butterfly was posted on her Instagram account in March 2019 with the caption, “Nothing Lasts Forever.” Shakeel credits Powell as being the original photographer of the butterfly in her caption, and calls the post “artwork.”