How do butterflies find their way?

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In the temperate zone, there are few areas with flowers for butterflies to feed on, so these delicate little insects must migrate to reach their best feeding grounds. They will fly in a straight line to a flowery meadow, but on arriving they change their behavior and act as though they live there. They feed from the flowers, mate, and the females lay their eggs. But their idyllic meadow life lasts only a short time. Within a few minutes or several days, the butterflies leave the field.

Butterflies migrate only at the hottest times of the day and then only when the Sun is shining. When the Sun is at its brightest, they line themselves up at an angle to the horizon. As the angle of the Sun changes, they maintain the same angle to the horizon. Since this angle stays constant, the direction they’re moving in changes by approximately 15 degrees an hour. But unlike the temperate species, tropical butterflies do not change their migrational direction throughout the day.

An individual butterfly heading east in the morning will still be flying east when evening falls. At the start of the journey, it takes its direction from the Sun, but does not subsequently alter its course as the Sun’s position changes. Consequently, the butterfly must know that the Sun changes its position, and that if it changes its own course accordingly, it will arrive at the wrong place. It must also know the right and the wrong destinations for itself, and what direction will take it to the correct one. Each butterfly possesses all this knowledge, but by itself, this knowledge is not enough. Each butterfly must evaluate this in relation to its location and make a decision. Of course it is not rational to think that all of this depends on a little butterfly’s ability to judge. The reality is that Allah has created all the characteristics they need to carry on with their lives.
Even the most durable pocket compass loses its sensitivity over time due to electromagnetic effect. However, the direction finding ability of these little butterflies, which is such an important aspect of their lives, is not damaged by external influences and does not let them down in the midst of their journey. Allah has created all life forms perfectly. In a verse of the Qur’an, Allah reveals the following about His creation of creatures:

Allah created every animal from water. Some of them go on their bellies, some of them on two legs, and some on four. Allah creates whatever He wills. Allah has power over all things. (Surat an-Nur, 45)

2010-01-17 18:33:06

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