By David Coppedge

Painted lady butterflies make an even more spectacular migration than the famous Monarchs, observers just found.

The Monarch butterfly travels about 6,000 miles round trip in its migration from Canada to Mexico.  That record has been bested by painted ladies, which fly 9,000 miles, it has just been discovered.  This amazing feat was just reported today on the BBC News and Science Now.  Richard Fox, the survey manager of Butterfly Conservation said,

“This tiny creature weighing less than a gram, with a brain the size of a pin head, and no opportunity to learn from older, experienced individuals, undertake [sic] an epic intercontinental migration.”

Why wasn’t this discovered before now?  Brits thought the colorful insects just died off at the end of summer.  It turns out, rather, that they land in the British Isles as a feeding stop on their intercontinental migration from tropical Africa to the edge of the Arctic Circle and back.  While in the UK, they increase their numbers till they leave in two waves, one in August and one in October.  They were not seen migrating because they fly super-high: average 500 meters, but as high as 1,000 meters.  It took radar to spot them….

 

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