Monarch Butterfly Facts
- This breathtaking creation of Nature and evolution most frequently goes by the well deserved name of the Monarch Butterfly. It has other less often used titles, though. These include such terms as common tiger, wanderer, and black-veined brown.
- Inside of scientific communities, however, it’s better known by its official moniker. Fortunately for the layperson, that’s a comparatively simple title, as such things go. That’s because this marvelous Lepidoptera bears the official name of Danaus plexippus.
- The invertebrate received that name due to the efforts of the esteemed Swedish zoologist, Carl Linnaeus. He recorded the first recognition of the creature as a separate and distinct species. The researcher accomplished this feat in the year 1758.
- A total of three species actually bear the same general appellation. The specific one referred to in this article, though, is the best known and most commonly referred to. A total of six acknowledged subspecies of the insect also exist across the globe.
- The gorgeous Monarch Butterfly inhabits a moderately large range. It also engages in impressive seasonal migrations. Sadly, the amazing beauty now finds itself in danger. Accordingly, the IUCN thus lists it as Endangered on its Red List of Threatened Species.
- It now faces many threats to its existence. That’s true in both short and long term. Most of these, though, stem from human activities. Human herbicide use has killed much of its food source. It also now faces the same threat of climate change as we all do.
Monarch Butterfly Physical Description
The captivating Monarch Butterfly fully merits appreciation by those who encounter it. Unlike some of its many relatives, though, it does so for several reasons. Its sheer beauty certainly qualifies as one factor. Yet it also boasts some impressive statistics in terms of size.
It does follow one pattern that’s common among its kind, as well. That’s due to the fact that the insect displays a degree of sexual dimorphism. In its case, this physiological trait manifests itself in terms of both size and appearance. As the name implies, its regal.
Physically, males of the species attain a slightly greater wingspan than their female counterparts. But they also display a small difference in terms of appearance. It’s a very minor one, though. On one vein on each hindwing of the males, a tiny black spot displays.
Otherwise, the two genders of the Arthropod present a very similar structure. The wings of both sexes reach an average width of approximately 3.5 – 4 in (8.9 – 10.2 cm). The body, meanwhile, develops as elongated, mostly black, except for a few white spots on the head.
It’s the wings of the aptly-named Monarch Butterfly that garner the most attention, however. The uppersides typically present a tawny orange hue. The many veins of the wings also show black, along with their margins. Two series of small white spots also line those edges.
The forewings additionally show small orange spots near the tips. The undersides displays similar, but not identical patterns. Their hindwings are yellowish brown, with larger white spots. Its forewings also manifest the same yellowish-brown color on their tips.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arhropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Lepidoptera
- Family: Nymphalidae
- Genus: Danaua
- Species: D. plexippus
Monarch Butterfly Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The stunning Monarch Butterly evolved as native to a relatively broad swathe of the world. The sheer scope of that range might surprise some people, though. That’s true since this insect marvel appears in parts of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
Part of that extends from southern Canada, in North America, to southern South America. It’s also found in Hawaii, Bermuda, the Cook Islands, and other islands in the Caribbean. From there, it also appears from Australia to the Philippines, and as far as Morocco.
This wonder of evolution developed as primarily present in several specific habitat types. Yet it does display some versatility and adaptability. Most individuals, however, make their home in regions consisting of either meadows, grasslands, praries, and along roadsides.
Most further display a strong preference for the presence of other determining factors. These include such things as proximity to smaller streams, and areas of sufficient sunlight. The awesome creature additionally prefers the presence of sufficient roosting plant life.
The magnificent Monarch Butterfly is also famous for its massive migrations. A majority of the population migrates to a singly location in Mexico for the winter. Following this, the female lays her eggs during the return trip. These she places on the underside of leaves.
Those eggs most commonly appear on the foliage of milkweed. Despite their toxicity to most species, the larvae consume them vorcaciously. Adults typically live 2 -5 weeks. During that time, they too consume vast quantities of nectar from a wide variety of flora.