How Do Butterflies Navigate ?

14 July 2002
Posted by Chris Smith.

Every autumn Monarch butterflies make their way from the northern US to Mexico where they spend the winter. But how do they know which direction to fly ? To find out researchers Henrik Mouritsen and Barrie Frost from Queen's University Ontario found that in the sunshine the butterflies headed southwest. But if the butterflies were 'jet-lagged' for 6 hours first they headed off 90 degrees off-course. The researchers suggest that they must be using some kind of Sun-compass linked to their body clock. Butterflies developing larger muscles as changing weather forces them to fly further.

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