Flying Mechanism of Butterflies

When it comes to maneuvering their flight, butterflies are one of the best among insects. They have an erratic twisting-turning fluttering pattern for shaking off predators. Thanks to their incredibly large wings, they can manipulate their flight more easily than some of the other insects. This flight pattern makes it difficult for predators to predict the direction in which they will fly.

How do Butterflies fly

In addition to their big wings, butterflies make use of their extremely slow wingbeats – about 10 per second as compared to 200 in bees. To soar upward, they maintain a vertical body posture and combine it with a rotation of the body that is timed with each wing beat. As they contract their bodies, the motion helps in pushing the air underneath their wings, thereby propelling the butterfly forward through the air.

Video: Butterfly in Flight

Interesting Facts

  • Butterflies can fly at great heights, with some migrating species like the Monarch having their overwintering grounds at altitudes of 3,000 m.
  • Although the speed of butterflies has not been measured, some fast-flying species, such as the Skippers, can fly at 30 mi/h. Slow-flying butterfly species probably have a speed of about 5 mi/h.