Butterflies can soar at extraordinary heights of up to 19,000 Ft or just over 3.5 miles high.
Scientists find it hard to pinpoint exactly how high a butterfly can fly because they use the thermal air currents to lift them up and glide.
Only migratory butterflies tend to be able to fly at maximum height, however all butterflies typically prefer to stay at much lower levels most of the time.
Why Does a Butterflies Fly That High?
Butterflies fly strive for maximum height mainly during migration. Flying hundreds or thousands of miles can be challenging. Catching the thermal air currents to carry them along makes their journey much easier.
Why Don’t Butterflies Always Fly That High?
Even though butterflies have been spotted at 19,000 Ft during migration it is a bit unusual for them to go and stay that high up for very long. Higher altitudes mean fewer hiding places, colder air temperatures, and less oxygen.
Most butterflies prefer lower altitudes even for migration. Butterflies tend to stay in the 800 ft-1200 feet for a good migration day.
How High Do Butterflies Normally Fly?
Butterflies typically stay with in 0-300 feet range. Butterflies have a wide range of heights they fly on a daily basis. From roosting in the tall trees at night to sipping sweet nectar from the dandelion on the ground.
Butterflies typically are looking for food, laying eggs, or looking for a mating partner. It would be pretty hard to see food or find a partner so high in the sky.
Can Butterflies Fly Above The Clouds?
Yes, butterflies can fly higher than most clouds.
- Low-level clouds are around 6500 ft,
- Medium level clouds are between 6500 ft and 15000 ft
- High clouds like thunderheads extend higher than 15000 ft according to https://www.weather.gov/key/cloudchart#:~:text=Low%20level%20clouds%20are%20generally,than%2015%2C000%20feet%20above%20ground.
A butterfly could easily make it above low and medium-level clouds but may have trouble getting past some of the higher-level clouds. Butterflies would not need to go much higher and would generally stay far away from clouds like thunderhead.
Can a Butterfly Fly at 1700 Feet?
Yes, In fact, Jet passenger planes have even reported seeing butterflies at 19,000 ft during migration.
Gliders have regularly reported monarch butterfly sightings at 3,500 meters or around 11,400 feet during migration.
Can a Butterfly Fly High as a Bird?
Yes, migrating birds and butterflies tend to fly between 5,000 ft and 20,000 Feet which is the height Butterflies migrate at too.
What Butterfly Lives At The Highest Altitude?
Piercolias forsteri butterfly lives in Andies mountains in Bolivia at about 4,200 meters or almost 14,000 feet above sea level. This tiny but mighty Butterfly braves the extreme weather and high altitudes and yet survives.
Can a Butterfly Fly In The Wind?
Butterflies can fly in light breezes fairly easily especially when the wind is at their back, infact it can make traveling easier if the right breeze is blowing. Butterflies need to be able to fly faster than the wind if they are going into the wind.
Butterflies are unable and normally unwilling to fly in high windspeeds because it makes it hard for them to land safely. Most of the time butterflies will seek shelter and wait for better conditions.
Can a Butterfly Fly in Rain?
No, butterflies stay out of the rain at all costs for a few reasons.
Butterflies are cold-blooded and require temperatures above 55 F. When it rains the air typically gets cooler and the raindrops themselves are also cooler which lowers their body temp.
Raindrops are huge compared to a butterfly’s small stature a single raindrop can be a brutal blow and injure the butterfly or most insects for that matter.