Butterflies in space

Published: 14 December 2009

On 16th November 2009, four larvae of the Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) blasted off from Florida on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis on their way to the International Space Station. The butterflies have now been in space for almost a month and have successfully pupated and emerged as adults.

The Painted Lady is well known for its ability to fly long distances. Each year these butterflies recolonise England and Ireland by flying from North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Of course, this migration is shorter than the 6.49 million miles per day the four 'butterflynauts' are currently doing on the International Space Station but the migration to Europe is accomplished by the butterflies themselves.

The progress of the four butterflynauts can be followed online:

Return to the main news page.

This information is available as an RSS newsfeed. Information on how you can use our newsfeeds is available.