Wednesday, September 4, 2019

IBE: New model predicts Painted Lady butterfly migrations based on breeding sites data

News from IBE (CSIC-UPF)

Researchers from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE) and from the University of Grenoble-Alpes in France, have developed a method that allows predicting where the populations of the migratory Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) distribute along the year and across their Europe-Africa migratory range. This new approach could be used to study potential effects of climate change in migratory insects.

In a previously published study, the researchers demonstrated that Painted Lady butterflies migrate from Europe to tropical Africa by the end of summer, crossing the Mediterranean Sea and Sahara Desert. In a follow-up study, the researchers showed that the offspring of these migrants reverse their migration towards Europe in spring. Thus, the Painted Lady butterfly travels 15,000 km between Africa and Europe through multiple generations to seasonally exploit resources and favourable climates in both continents. “The challenge now is to understand how migratory species are able to optimize time and space as to properly find the environmental requirements that each generation need for their survival” states Gerard Talavera, the leading author, postdoctoral researcher at IBE and a National Geographic Explorer.


Menchetti, M.; Guéguen, M.; Talavera, G. (2018) Spatio-temporal niche modelling of multigenerational insect migrations Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  DOI:

More information: 
IBE website