101223-Cape Town - A butterfly pauses on a flower, enjoying a summers day in the Tsitsikamma region. Picture: Candice Chaplin.

London - Butterflies with darker wings are better flyers, according to a study.

Researchers from the University of Georgia in the US tested 121 captive monarch butterflies in an apparatus called a tethered flight mill, where they can quantify butterfly flight speed, duration and distance.

They found that those with darker orange wings overall flew longer distances than those with lighter wings.

Doctor Andrew Davis, who led the study, told the journal PLoS ONE: “Butterfly researchers don’t often look closely at colour variation between individuals of the same species.

“The results of this project will pave the way for a new line of inquiry into the significance of butterfly wing colour.” Previous research has shown that migratory butterflies are darker coloured than non-migratory ones, suggesting an association between darker colour and increased fitness. - Daily Mail