How can butterflies fly?

Butterflies fly high

At the end of August, the first butterflies fly from Europe to Africa, "Die Zeit" reads. I didn't even know butterflies fly that far. Did you know that?

Yes and no, I only knew the monarch butterflies as migratory birds among the butterflies that fly from the Rocky Mountains to northern Mexico. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that butterflies can really cover such great distances.

Because you can't see them, they fly very high.

Some types. And that up to 1000 meters. And some are fast too, up to 100 kilometers per hour.

And they are also flying back to Europe, so they are getting older than expected.

It is known from the monarch butterflies that they need several generations for one tour. It is probably similar with the European painted ladies. They make their stopovers, lay eggs, let their caterpillars eat themselves fat, pupate and become butterflies again and then fly on.

What are they eating?

The caterpillars mainly plant parts. Because of this, some species are unpopular with farmers. The adult butterflies essentially live on nectar, like bees. However, some have such a stable proboscis that they are even able to pierce honeycombs and steal honey. There are also butterflies that are the size of small birds.

Isn't there the theory that a single flap of a butterfly's wing could trigger hurricanes far away?

This is this common shorthand interpretation of chaos theory, which describes non-equilibrium systems. Whether a butterfly actually triggers a typhoon somewhere, I would be very careful. But of course it is true that a largely stable system such as a human society can become unstable due to circumstances such as climate change or famine, so that even relatively small impulses are enough to overturn it. In a huge empire like Russia, under normal circumstances, a small group like the Bolsheviks could never have taken power. This was only possible because the whole system was extremely unstable at the time, when the Bolsheviks, by chance or through deep thought, as the old ML teachers in the GDR would have said, were able to take the lead in the movement to overthrow the Tsar .

Steffen, we have to keep an eye on the butterflies.

That’s definitely a good thing. You just have to see some again. I've seen two of them this year.

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