Nuclear Butterflies Spotted In Japan After Fukushima Fallout

Over the last year, scientists in Japan have spotted several butterflies sporting “abnormalities.” These nuclear butterflies are believed to be a result of the radioactive fallout that occurred at the Fukushima nuclear plant last year.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, reads:

“We conclude that artificial radionuclides from the Fukushima (No. 1) nuclear power plant caused physiological and genetic damage.”

According to Japan Times, a research team near the plant began collecting common butterflies shortly after the nuclear leak was contained. The team collected over 121 insects and found that 12 percent of the butterflies around the plant had small wings. Researchers collected more butterflies about six months after the disaster and found that the percent of nuclear butterflies jumped to 28 percent.

According to the study, several of the butterflies collected were larvae during the nuclear accident. Others were possibly contaminated when they ate leaves surrounding the plant.

The study reads:

“At the time of the accident, the populations of this species were overwintering as larvae and were externally exposed to artificial radiation. It is possible that they ate contaminated leaves during the spring and were thus also exposed to internal radiation.”


Joji Otaki, an associate professor at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa who was involved with the study, said that the study does not indicate any increased damage to humans in the area.

Otaki said:

“Sensitivity (to irradiation) varies between species, so research should be conducted on other animals…. Humans are totally different from butterflies and they should be far more resistant”

ABC reports that it has been 17 months since the disaster and no radiation-related deaths have been reported so far.