There is something very whimsical about butterflies during the summertime, flitting about from flower to flower. But do you ever wonder where they go when the weather turns sour? Scientific American answers that question (and more) with an excellent article titled "What do butterflies do when it rains?". Some tidbits:
An average monarch weighs roughly 500 milligrams; large raindrops have a mass of 70 milligrams or more. A raindrop this size striking a monarch would be equivalent to you or I being pelted by water balloons with twice the mass of bowling balls.
Not only does rain pose a direct threat of injury or death, but the cool air associated with storms may also reduce temperatures below the thermal threshold for butterfly flight. In preparation for flight, these aerial acrobats expose their wings to direct sunlight, which rapidly warms their flight muscles.
Wow - this explains what butterflies are doing when they sit in the sun flexing their wings, and why we tend to only see butterflies in flight on sunny days. Fascinating!
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