How Does a Butterfly Fly?
A butterfly’s wings act as both “propellers” and “lifters.” The veins that form the framework of the wings help stiffen and support them. The rear edge of the wings bends easily when the butterfly beats its wings in flight. This bending action pushes against the air, and moves the butterfly forward.
The thick front margins of the wings serve as airfoils, like the wings of an airplane. They give the butterfly “lift” as it flies forward. Some butterflies, such as the monarch, have large wings. They are good gliders and can fly great distances.
Butterflies can only fly if their body temperature is above 86 degrees. Butterflies sun themselves to warm up in cool weather. As butterflies age, the color of the wings fades and the wings become ragged.
The speed varies among butterfly species (the poisonous varieties are slower than non-poisonous varieties). The fastest butterflies (some skippers) can fly at about 30 mile per hour or faster. Slow flying butterflies fly about 5 mph.