Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Monarch butterfly uses magnetic, Sun compasses, study finds

The North American monarch butterfly uses the Sun as well as Earth's magnetic field as navigational tools for its famous long-distance migration, scientists said Tuesday.

The insects with their characteristic orange-and-black wings flutter thousands of kilometres each year from the United States and southern Canada to the Michoacan mountains in central Mexico, where they overwinter.

The butterflies, whose Latin name is Danaus plexippus, have long been known to use a type of solar compass in the brain.

Yet, curiously, they are also able to migrate when skies are heavily overcast, which suggested co-reliance on a magnetic compass.

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