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16 Incredibly Marvelous Facts About Monarch Butterflies

Facts about Monarch Butterflies
Known as the wanderers, Monarch butterflies can migrate long distances due to their excellent sense of direction. This article lists many more interesting facts about Monarch butterflies.
Kashmira Lad
Last Updated: Mar 2, 2018
Monarch butterflies are one of the most well-known butterflies in North America. This species of butterflies was known in Australia since 1871. They were discovered in New Zealand in the 19th century. They can also be considered as one of the most easily-recognizable insects in North America.
Interesting Facts
  • Monarch butterflies are known as the wanderer butterflies in Australia. They are scientifically known as Danaus plexippus. They are also called Milkweed butterflies because their larvae are known to eat only the milkweed plant.
  • These butterflies are easily distinguishable due to the pattern seen on their wings. They have a very distinct orange and black pattern; females have darker veins on their wings and males have a spot on the center of each hindwing.
  • A few of the characteristics of these butterflies are similar to some other species of butterflies such as the Jamaican monarch and the southern monarch.
  • Yet another interesting fact about the Monarch butterflies is that they can migrate over 3,100 kilometers.
  • There have been many theories about the origins of the name of this species. Samuel H. Scudder published the term Monarch in 1874. It was used as these were the largest species of butterflies. Others feel that the name Monarch may be given in honor of the Prince of Orange, King William.
  • It is a known fact that around 5 million butterflies from different areas of North America travel to smaller sites that are scattered along the coast of California. These beautiful butterflies also follow the same migration pattern every year.
  • Amongst all the insects, Monarch Butterflies are known for their capacity of making transatlantic crossings.
  • The female Monarch butterfly can lay hundreds of eggs on a single plant.
  • When in the stage of migration, these butterflies use drafts of warm air to help them glide. This process in turn helps them conserve energy required for longer flights.
  • It is also believed that they use the magnetic field of the earth to migrate. They depend on the position of the sun as well.
  • The adult Monarch butterflies drink nectar from a variety of species of flowers. This nectar proves to be the vital source of energy for them.
  • The mating period of these butterflies occurs in spring. The courtship period is fairly simple.
  • Monarch butterflies are foul-tasting and poisonous as well. This is due to the presence of certain cardenolide aglycones in their body, which are ingested when the larvae feed on milkweed.
  • As caterpillars, these butterflies feed on milkweed but on turning into adults, nectar is their main source of food.
  • These butterflies are known to live in prairies, meadows, grasslands etc.
  • In Mexico, there have been observations that suggest that they sleep in winter in the branches and trunks of fir trees. Sometimes, due to a large group of Monarch butterflies, a branch may tend to get heavy with the weight, which results in it breaking off.
Monarch Butterfly feeding
Monarch Butterfly on Lantana
Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on Lavender Anise Hyssop Blossom
Monarch caterpillar on milkweed
Monarch Butterflies on tree branch in Michoacan, Mexico
Coneflower Monarch