Ask an Explainer


How does a butterfly fly?


Butterflies may look very small and fragile, but they're actually very strong for their size. The strong muscles in their thorax allow them to flap their wings very fast. But they don't go straight up and down: their wings flap in a figure 8.  This manages to create lower pressure above the wing, with the correct angle of attack to allow the high pressure air beneath to push the small butterfly up: this is lift! Butterflies are also very light, which limits their weight and helps them fly for long periods of time. 

Categories: Aerodynamics