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High speed flash photography (flash duration 0.1 ms) was used to analyse wing movements in over 30 species of butterfly. With few exceptions, the insects showed a clap and peel mechanism of lift production at the start of the downstroke. Early in the upstroke the wings showed pronounced ventral flexure which, combined with inertial lag in the posterior parts of both wing pairs and delayed supination in the hind wing, led to the formation of a funnel-like space between the wings. These movements, and the resultant airflow patterns, appear to be an axi-symmetric equivalent of the ‘near’ clap and peel (here referred to as the funnel). Hind wing movements throughout the stroke are hinged upon the claval furrow. The expanded anal lobes of the hind wing lying medially to the claval furrow help to provide an air-tight seal around the abdomen between the upper and lower wing surfaces, which increases the efficiency of the peel and funnel mechanisms. The role of the intercalary flexion lines in controlling changes in wing surface corrugation during the cycle is also investigated.