Monarch Butterfly

Scientific Name:

Danaus plexippus

Type:

Invertebrate

Habitat:

Forest, mountains, and prairies

Range:

North and South America

Status:

No listed status

This species is

NATIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

Monarch butterflies are well-known butterflies, with the characteristic orange-and-black wings with white spots of the adults easily recognizable. These butterflies usually have wingspans between 3 and 4 inches wide. Monarch caterpillars are also easily recognized thanks to their alternating yellow, black, and white patterns.

Fast Facts:

  • Monarch butterflies' coloration warns predators such as birds to back off and find food elsewhere, as these butterflies are slightly toxic to predators.

  • Monarchs gain their toxicity from eating the milkweed plant as caterpillars. Milkweed is the only plant that monarch eggs are laid on and the only food source for their caterpillars.

  • Monarch butterflies are widely known for their massive migration that can take place over 2,000 miles from as far north as Canada to as far south as Mexico.

  • Scientists are still trying to figure out how monarchs intuitively know where to go to make it back to the exact same spots each year, especially since multiple monarch generations are needed to complete the full migration.

  • 3 to 4 generations of monarchs live and die during the summer that will simply breed and live in their summer location. The last generation, however, is physically and behaviorally different from the previous generations, allowing this last generation to make the long migration south for the winter. This last generation also lives the longest, ensuring that they can make the journey.

  • Monarch numbers are reducing drastically from loss of habitat and loss of milkweed needed for their eggs/caterpillars to feed on.

Sources:

Contributor(s):

Haley McGuire (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

April 19, 2021, 6:15:43 PM