Imagine how Much Energy Goes into Flapping Butterfly Wings for 20 Minutes at a Time

American Lady Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

June 18th and our American Lady is patiently sipping moisture from the trail at the period farmhouse in Raccoon Creek State Park.

Fresh, healthy and probably a male. Our approach was as it had to be, robotic, staged and uniform.

Vanessa virginiensis males, like those of other species that we’ve posted, spend much of the day flying. They search for suitable females, and their flight is relentless.

Why then is he taking up the water and its minerals? Water is essential for all of the work that flying non-stop requires. Minerals are critical for replenishing spent iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium and other metal elements. Imagine how much effort goes into flapping those wings for 20 minutes at a time…most of the morning and late afternoon. The muscles of the 4 wings experience degradation of the molecules that produce energy and of the proteins that power those magnificent wings. So our flying marvel busily synthesizes new energy coenzymes and new muscle proteins on the wing. Pretty impressive, no?

Before you leave this post, take a second look at those left wings. Pretty, pretty, pretty.