painted lady
Painted Lady butterfly BBC Four

News of this documentary gave nature lovers a flutter of excitement. After many years of wondering how on earth the majestically elegant Painted Lady butterfly travels for thousands of miles from Africa to the UK, answers will finally be revealed in BBC Four's highly anticipated The Great Butterfly Adventure.

The programme will observe butterfly fan Martha Kearney and entomologist James Loan examine the migration of painted lady butterflies from Africa to the UK – which has long-fascinated scientists, artists and nature lovers.

Kearney will adventure around Morocco with a butterfly net – quite literally – full of beans as she attempts to bag a Painted Lady for herself. The insects are at the beginning of an epic migration that sees them fly an astonishing 2,000 miles from the Atlas mountains to Britain – proving that you should never underestimate the stamina of a delicate butterfly.

The vivid, beautiful creatures are the subject of close scrutiny at the Rothamsted insect research centre in Hertfordshire. Scientists track their movements via tiny antennae fitted to the Painted Ladies while members of the British public send in photographs and film as they spot the butterflies once they arrive in the UK in July.

The doc isn't short of drama, however, as the Painted Ladies' journey was interrupted by torrential storms in northern Europe – making flight impossible. The lack of sun is also damaging, as Painted Ladies must languish in its rays to ensure they absorb the energy needed for flight.

A fascinating watch that'll no doubt give you wings.

The Great Butterfly Adventure: Africa to Britain with the Painted Lady airs on BBC Four at 9pm tonight (10 October).