The Largest, Smallest, Fastest ... Butterflies
Which butterfly has a wingspan of 12 inches (30 cm)? Are there butterflies that can fly distances of up to 2,880 miles (4,635 km)? Which butterfly is the fastest flyer? You will find answers to all these questions right here! Below the chart there are more information on butterflies, photos, exciting background infos on the records and a list of butterfly zoos in Germany.
Here, you find all the records sorted by category:
|Brazilian giant owl *||11.8 inches (30 cm)|
|Queen Alexandra’s birdwing||11 inches (28 cm)|
|Goliath Birdwing **||11 inches (28 cm)|
|Hercules Moth ***||10.6 inches (27 cm)|
|Atlas moth||9.8-10.2 inches (25-26 cm)|
|Afr. giant swallow tail||9 inches (23 cm)|
Largest Wing Surface
|Atlas moth||62 inches2 (400 cm2)|
|Hercules moth||46.5 inches2300 cm2|
|Western Pygmy Blue||0.47 inches (12 mm)|
|Pygmy moth||0.11 inches (3 mm)|
|Monarch butterfly||1,999 miles (3,218 km)|
|Convolvulus hawk-moth||62.1 mph (100 km/h) (short distances)|
|Skipper||37.2 mph (60 km/h)|
|Hawk moth (general)||31 mph (50 km/h) (long distances)|
Slowest Wing Beat
|Mourning cloak||11-12 months|
|Common brimstone||12 months|
|Xanthopan morganii||25 cm ****|
* Thysania agrippina
** Ornithoptera goliath
*** Coscinocera hercules
**** longer than the body
The Fastest Butterfly
Most butterflies fly through the air at speeds of about 4.9-12.4 mph (8-20 km/h). This is faster than a walking person or someone driving a bicycle. But they can be even faster than this. Some butterflies can even keep up with a car in town traffic: The skipper and the hawk moth reach speeds between 31 and 37.2 mph (50 and 60 km/h) – not only for a short while, but also when traveling longer distances.
The Biggest Butterfly
The Guinness Book of Records lists Queen Alexandra’s birdwing as the world’s biggest butterfly, with a wingspan of 11 inches (28 cm) and a weight of 0.98 oz (28 grams). Meanwhile this record has been surpassed by the Brazilian giant owl with a wingspan of 11.8 inches (30 cm).
The Largest Wing Surface of a Butterfly
The Atlas moth does not have the largest wingspan, but the largest wings. It has been named after Atlas, a hero from Greek mythology, who had to carry the entire world on his shoulders.
The Longest Migration of a Butterfly
In September 1988, a male monarch butterfly was armed in Ontario, Canada, and re-discovered in Texas, USA, in 1989. Due to the icy temperatures, it would not have survived the winter in Texas. Therefore, scientists reckon, that the butterfly flew 2,880 miles (4,635 km) to Mexico at the minimum to spend the winter there. Yet, it might even be possible that the monarch butterfly covered twice this distance.
The Highest-Flying Butterfly
There are also butterflies that are able to fly particularly high. The painted lady butterfly has already been sighted at a height of 1,895 miles (3,050 meters).
The Most Unusual Proboscis
The owlet moth Calyptra does not have its proboscis to suck nectar from plants but to sting animals and humans. Is it up to 0.2 inch (7 mm) long. The insect sucks blood just like a mosquito and thus can also transmit diseases. Yet, the butterfly does not live in Europe and can only be found in Southeast Asia. Don't panic!
The Largest Butterfly Zoo
Since 1986, there is a butterfly zoo on the Malaysian island Penang. Currently, about 4,000 animals are living there in an area covering 86,111 ft² (8,000 m²), which is larger than an official World Championship football pitch. There are several butterfly zoos in Germany as well, for instance in:
|Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania||Klütz, Sassnitz, Trassenheide|
|Lower Saxony||Bad Rothenfelde, Buchholz, Steinhude, Uslar|
There are about 150,000 species of butterflies, and about 700 new species are being newly discovered every year. The flying insects live everywhere – with the exception of the Antarctic region as this habitat is too cold and does not yield enough food for them – there is only ice anyway. Most butterflies can be found in warm and tropical regions; In Germany there are “only” 3,700 species. Before the beautiful and colorful insects are able to glide through the air, they spend their lives as caterpillars or chrysalis. It can take up to seven years until a butterfly finally hatches. After this, its lifespan is rather short and lasts from a few days to a year at most.