The Monarch Butterfly (Danus plexippus) is an insect in the Nymphalidae family of milkweed butterfies. It is also known as the Milkweed Butterfly, Common Tiger Butterfly, Wanderer Butterfly, and the Black-Veined Brown Butterfly.
The Monarch Butterfly has black, orange, and white wings. The undersides of its wings are orange-brown. It has black veins and small white spots in the margins at the edge of its wings. The male has a black spot on each hind (back) wing. Its body and its six legs are black.
Its wingspan is 9-10 centimetres (3-4 inches) across. The male is slightly larger than the female.
It is common in North America and Canada. It is also found in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and the Pacific Islands. It prefers dry or damp forests. It also likes parks and gardens.
It is a strong flier, but it never flies rapidly nor high.
It is a migratory butterfly. En masse, with hundreds of butterflies, it flies south during winter to spend time in the warmer locations of Florida and Mexico.
It is a pollinator species. It collects pollen from flowers. The adult butterfly has a long proboscis which it inserts into flowers to sip nectar.
The adult female butterfly lays eggs on the underside of a milkweed plant. She lays 300-1,000 eggs, which take 3-8 days to hatch. They hatch into larvae called caterpillars. The caterpillars eat leaves as they grow. They pupate into a chrysalis. After 8-15 days in the chrysalis, it emerges as an adult butterfly. This is called metamorphosis.
The adult Monarch Butterfly lives for 2-5 weeks.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM