How to use an object with shape keys as particles

Imagine something like butterfly wings moving up and down, then using them as particle objects so they appear to be flying with wings moving. I can do this, BUT all of the wings are up or down at the same time. I tried to add a particle info node to make the wing position random, based on age, but I don’t see how to tie in the age (or lifetime, etc. ) to the shape keys. Is this even possible?

The simplest way I can think of (since I don’t like writing drivers) is to use more than one particle system. Each could have essentially identical particle objects (your butterfly) but the shape key animation could be offset in each of the different systems. Overall system load would not increase if the particle population is shared among the systems used, plus you would have more control over the apparent randomness of other particle system aspects like velocities, etc.

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That’s a thought. Now I’m also wondering if one particle system can have multiple objects, although I guess that wouldn’t be much different than just adding a second or third system. Good idea. Thanks.