it won’t be able to fly any longer? I lightly googled this, but would rather ask you guys. I mean, afterall, I did pay to become a member today. lol
No, they can usually still fly. You will often rub off the tiny scales that give the wing its color, but as long as you don’t actually damage the wing membrane they will still be able to fly (and can sometimes still fly even with quite badly damaged wings).
I read today that the scales on a butterfly’s wings are an extremely old adaption to allow them to escape from spiders’ webs (here). See the last paragraph.
I had an extensive insect collection when I was a kid. Sometimes I’d catch a butterfly or moth that turned out to be damaged (by birds, etc.), and I’d let it go, after carefully removing it from the net. I don’t recall one that was unable to fly, so long as most of the wing was intact.
Twice as a child, I’ve rescued butterflies by touching their wings. One was sitting directly in the hot sun, trying to fly, and was obviously too hot. I picked it up and moved it to the shade-seconds later, it flew off.
Another time one got in our house and our cat was going nuts over it. I managed to get it and take it outside.
The wings are easily damaged by human fingers. Parents just tell kids not to touch the wings, because most people will damage the wings.