Living With Migration

Painted Lady

Painted Lady Feeding on Thistle

The Painted Lady Butterfly, Vanessa cardui, is one of the great migrators of the insect world.  Populations migrate from Africa, as far south as 10 degrees N (Ghana) and as far north as 71 degrees in Norway, a distance of 6500 km.  Similar migrations in North America travel from Mexico to northern Canada.  These butterflies use a combination of high altitude flight (560 meters;  150 – 1150 meters above ground level) and low ground level flight to complete their migration.   On May 25 and 29 of 2009, an estimated 2.3 million and 1.7 million high flying butterflies were detected by radar crossing the English coast.  Peaks of high level flight correlate with favorable winds.  The butterflies were traveling at a average ground speed of 13 m/s with a 7 m/s tail wind plus 6/s supplied by the butterflies.  At that rate of speed, the butterflies could travel the entire distance in less than 1 week.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

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