Darker wings for monarch butterflies mean better flight

Jul 25, 2012

For monarch butterflies, redder wings are correlated with better flight performance, according to research published July 25 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

Previous work has shown that monarch coloring is intended to warn their predators about their bitter taste and toxicity, and that migratory butterflies are darker colored than non-migratory ones, suggesting an association between darker color and increased fitness. The current work, led by Andrew Davis of the University of Georgia, provides further evidence for this association. The researchers tested 121 captive monarchs in an apparatus called a tethered flight mill, where they can quantify butterfly flight speed, duration, and distance, and found that those with darker orange wings overall flew longer distances than those with lighter wings.

"Butterfly researchers don't often look closely at between individuals of the same species. The results of this project will pave the way for a new line of inquiry into the significance of butterfly wing color."

Explore further: The influence of the Isthmus of Panama in the evolution of freshwater shrimps in America

More information: Davis AK, Chi J, Bradley C, Altizer S (2012) The Redder the Better: Wing Color Predicts Flight Performance in Monarch Butterflies. PLoS ONE 7(7): e41323. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041323

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Artificial butterfly in flight and filmed (w/ Video)

May 20, 2010

A group of Japanese researchers, who publish their findings today in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, have succeeded in building a fully functional replica model - an ornithopter - of a swallowtail butterfly, and they have f ...

An eye gene colors butterfly wings red

Jul 21, 2011

Red may mean STOP or I LOVE YOU! A red splash on a toxic butterfly's wing screams DON'T EAT ME! In nature, one toxic butterfly species may mimic the wing pattern of another toxic species in the area. By ...

Butterfly study sheds light on convergent evolution

Jul 21, 2011

For 150 years scientists have been trying to explain convergent evolution. One of the best-known examples of this is how poisonous butterflies from different species evolve to mimic each other's color patterns – in effect ...

Recommended for you

Dogs hear our words and how we say them

9 hours ago

When people hear another person talking to them, they respond not only to what is being said—those consonants and vowels strung together into words and sentences—but also to other features of that speech—the ...

Amazonian shrimps: An underwater world still unknown

10 hours ago

A study reveals how little we know about the Amazonian diversity. Aiming to resolve a scientific debate about the validity of two species of freshwater shrimp described in the first half of the last century, ...

Factors that drive sexual traits

11 hours ago

Many male animals have multiple displays and behaviours to attract females; and often the larger or greater the better.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.