The monarch butterfly, or "Danaus plexippus," is a common butterfly with a large habitat due to its migration from North America to central Mexico. However, this migration pattern is considered a threatened phenomenon, and both the US and Mexican government are taking steps to make sure that these butterflies are protected during migration. Monarchs are also found in the Caribbean, Pacific Islands, Canary Islands and Western Europe.Continue Reading
The monarch butterfly begins its life cycle as a caterpillar, eating various plants of the milkweed family. Compounds in these plants make the monarch poisonous to predators. The larval stage in which the butterflies live as caterpillars lasts only two weeks. After this period, the caterpillar forms a chrysalis around itself and transforms into a butterfly after nine to 15 days. The adult monarch's distinctive orange color is a way to warn predators that the insect is poisonous.
Adult butterflies mate in the spring before migrating and lay their eggs once the migration is complete. Monarch courtship is unique because it is less dependant on chemical pheromones than the courtship of other butterflies of the genus. Males can be distinguished from females by the thickness of the black veins on their wings; females have thicker veins than males.Learn more about Butterflies & Moths