How a group of butterflies flew 2,600 miles across the Atlantic Ocean without stopping

by | Jul 1, 2024 | Science

Sign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news on fascinating discoveries, scientific advancements and more.Painted lady butterflies venture far and wide with their impressive migratory patterns that stretch for thousands of miles — but they often travel across land, so they can stop to rest.Scientists have now found evidence that a group of the winged travelers flew over 2,600 miles (about 4,200 kilometers) across the Atlantic Ocean without stopping, according to a new study published June 25 in the journal Nature Communications.The finding ends a decade-long mystery that began when entomologist and lead study author Dr. Gerard Talavera came across around 10 painted lady butterflies, known by the scientific name Vanessa cardui, on a beach in French Guiana in October 2013. The insects, which are not usually found in South America, were worn out with holes and tears in their wings.“They looked exhausted. They even couldn’t fly very much — they kind of jumped instead of flying,” said Talavera, a Spanish National Research Council senior researcher at the Botanical Institute of Barcelona. “The only explanation that came to my mind was that these were long-distance migrants.”But crossing an entire ocean was unheard of for butterflies, even ones as worldly as the painted ladies. Talavera, along with his colleagues, had to rule out a few factors before concluding that these butterflies accomplished what was previously thought impossible.How far a butterfly can flyAn October 2016 study that Talavera coauthored found that painted ladies from Europe migrate in great distances of around 2,500 miles (about 4,000 kilometers) to sub-Saharan Africa, facing obstacles such as the Mediterranean Sea and Sahara Desert. But even so, the butterflies remain mostly over land where they can “stop and refuel, feed on flowers and then get energy to keep going,” Talavera said.Crossing the Atlantic would take a painted lady butterfly five to eight days, depending on different variables, according to the new study.Based on analyses of the energy constraints, researchers concluded that the butterflies could fly a maximum of 485 miles (780 kilometers) or so without stopping, but favorable wind conditions are wh …

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[mwai_chat context=”Let’s have a discussion about this article:nnSign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news on fascinating discoveries, scientific advancements and more.Painted lady butterflies venture far and wide with their impressive migratory patterns that stretch for thousands of miles — but they often travel across land, so they can stop to rest.Scientists have now found evidence that a group of the winged travelers flew over 2,600 miles (about 4,200 kilometers) across the Atlantic Ocean without stopping, according to a new study published June 25 in the journal Nature Communications.The finding ends a decade-long mystery that began when entomologist and lead study author Dr. Gerard Talavera came across around 10 painted lady butterflies, known by the scientific name Vanessa cardui, on a beach in French Guiana in October 2013. The insects, which are not usually found in South America, were worn out with holes and tears in their wings.“They looked exhausted. They even couldn’t fly very much — they kind of jumped instead of flying,” said Talavera, a Spanish National Research Council senior researcher at the Botanical Institute of Barcelona. “The only explanation that came to my mind was that these were long-distance migrants.”But crossing an entire ocean was unheard of for butterflies, even ones as worldly as the painted ladies. Talavera, along with his colleagues, had to rule out a few factors before concluding that these butterflies accomplished what was previously thought impossible.How far a butterfly can flyAn October 2016 study that Talavera coauthored found that painted ladies from Europe migrate in great distances of around 2,500 miles (about 4,000 kilometers) to sub-Saharan Africa, facing obstacles such as the Mediterranean Sea and Sahara Desert. But even so, the butterflies remain mostly over land where they can “stop and refuel, feed on flowers and then get energy to keep going,” Talavera said.Crossing the Atlantic would take a painted lady butterfly five to eight days, depending on different variables, according to the new study.Based on analyses of the energy constraints, researchers concluded that the butterflies could fly a maximum of 485 miles (780 kilometers) or so without stopping, but favorable wind conditions are wh …nnDiscussion:nn” ai_name=”RocketNews AI: ” start_sentence=”Can I tell you more about this article?” text_input_placeholder=”Type ‘Yes'”]
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