Can Butterflies Fly At 17000 Feet?

Flying several thousand feet higher from the ground is possible for many living creatures, and butterflies can also fly at higher altitudes. Also, it seems a great distance when you hear about 17000 feet, but a few species of butterflies can reach almost half of Mount Everest. They can also hover around the tallest buildings in the world.

Can Butterflies Fly At 17000 Feet? Butterflies can fly at 17,000 feet, and a few of their species are recorded to fly up to 19,685 feet, but they mostly reach 10,000 to 11,000 feet. Typically, they fly at 300 to 350 feet but take higher flights when migrating long distances. Rain and strong wind cause hindrances in their flight and keep them close to the ground. The small species can move higher than large butterflies.

The abilities of butterflies to fly at higher altitudes vary among different species having different body size and weight. Their size primarily determines flying potential, as smaller insects can move higher than larger ones due to more muscular mass. Accordingly, Apollo butterflies can cover more miles than the other larger species.

Is it possible for butterflies to fly at 17000 feet?

Butterflies are lightweight and small insects usually seen flying a few hundred feet above ground level. They have to deal with air pressure to maintain a stable position.

In addition, moving higher from the ground requires more effort than moving parallel to the ground after achieving a certain height. They fly fast and move higher, but up to a certain limit.

Generally, they prefer to move almost 300 to 350 feet (91 to 107m) higher in the sky, which is considered a suitable height for them. However, few can maneuver the flights and reach 3,000 feet.

It is challenging for them to reach 19,685 feet (3.72 miles) on Mount Everest, which is 29,029 feet higher. The level of oxygen and temperature is lower at higher altitudes.

However, it is reported that these butterflies are seen roaming at great heights, almost 9000 feet lower than Everest. They can reach 17,000 feet (3.21 miles), but avoid doing so frequently.

Their large wings support flying behavior to several miles distance and thousands of feet higher above the ground surface. They can even move higher than Burj Khalifa, which is 2720 feet tall.

What type of butterflies can fly higher?

Different types of butterflies exist in nature with varying abilities to move higher in the air. Their bodies have different mass and muscular strength according to their diet.

Few can reach 10,000 feet, while most navigate surroundings at 3,000 to 4,000 feet. Monarch butterflies can attain 4000 feet (2.48 miles) height from the ground.

Moreover, they can tolerate extreme temperatures and roam around rocky mountain peaks or those covered with vegetation and ice.

Their migratory nature allows them to move long distances by flying several thousand feet higher. They usually cross the Statue of Liberty and move around it, which is 305 feet (93m) tall.

Piercolias forsteri is a species of butterfly that reaches almost 4,200 meters (13,779 feet) above sea level. It is known to be one of the highest-flying butterflies.

In addition, Painted lady butterflies are known for their behavioral characteristics, but they can also cover almost 10,000 feet (3050m) distance vertically.

Low air density and oxygen pose challenges to flying butterflies and restrict them from getting higher than their usual limits.

However, the swallowtail butterflies prefer to move at lower altitudes as they find it easy to stay close to the ground surface instead of attaining several thousand feet height.

Which butterflies stay close to the ground?

Some of their species choose low-land habitats and prefer to stay close to the ground. They feel comfortable moving where they can easily find shelter and hiding spots.

The swallowtail butterflies fly at 500 feet (152.4m), which seems slightly higher than most fellow butterflies’. It occurs because their food or nectar is available on the ground.

Accordingly, they have to reach the ground after flying for several hours to get their food, so they are usually seen close to the ground.

The cabbage white butterfly moves close to the land and flies at only a few hundred feet higher in the air. This behavior allows them to stay warm as the temperature lowers at higher altitudes.

In addition, they can also avoid predators by remaining close to the ground because there are many places to hide and blend with the background.

Their visibility reduces after blending with the background environment and helps avoid birds or predatory insects. The general tendency and nature of butterflies is to fly at lower altitudes.

Furthermore, the blue morpho butterflies also prefer to fly close to the ground and move within the canopies of rainforests. These lower canopies are around 80 to 100 feet higher from the ground.

Why do butterflies fly so high?

Many people feel astonished to see butterflies flying higher than the tallest building in the world. It raises curiosity to know the reasons for such distinguishing behavior in a few species of these insects.

They reach a few thousand feet higher in the air when migrating a long distance. This behavior of being at higher altitudes supports their migration as air currents push them forward.

Moreover, there are fewer obstacles when they reach several miles above the ground. They can also move across bodies of water like rivers, seas, and oceans to reach islands and coastal areas.

They can’t move across the ocean without attaining a height of several thousand feet from the ground. Also, it requires more effort to travel long distances by staying close to the ground.

They go higher if the ground predators try to swallow them several times. Flying at higher altitudes also helps these insects lower body temperature in warm conditions.

In contrast, they get closer to the ground in winter when the temperature at lower altitudes is warmer than the higher altitudes. However, higher altitudes are suitable for dispersal to far areas.

When do butterflies avoid flying high?

External environmental conditions affect the flying speed of butterflies, but a few factors stop them from engaging in flight to higher altitudes.

They cannot move higher in the sky when it rains as raindrops push their bodies downward after touching them. They are so light in weight that they cannot maintain flight against rain.

Accordingly, they avoid flying during rain and prefer to remain in a safe spot because raindrops are relatively heavier. They perch on tree branches or leaves and wait for the rain to stop.

In addition, they also avoid engaging in higher flight during strong wind because their small bodies cannot resist the air pressure. They are easy to be carried away by the wind.

They can’t maintain flight in the desired direction when a strong wind is blowing. Accordingly, they seek shelter to avoid the physical damage and loss of habitat.

Furthermore, locating suitable spots for egg-laying during rain, wind, and thunderstorms is difficult. It is also energy-consuming to fly in windy and rainy conditions.

How do butterflies fly so high?

Some physical adaptations and behavioral changes of butterflies allow them to fly so high. Their aerodynamic and lightweight wings allow them to gain altitudes.

Moreover, they are small and have lower body mass, favoring flight at higher altitudes. They can also adjust the frequency of wingbeats according to the weather and external environment.

It is possible to generate more lift when their wings beat at a higher frequency because they have to move against the direction of air. Thermal drifts in hot weather also allow them to move higher.

They need less oxygen to survive, but a few species adapt to survive in low-oxygen conditions because they do not get enough oxygen at higher altitudes.

In addition, they can also exploit wind patterns and move across the oceans and other large water bodies after attaining a height of several thousand feet.