Monday, July 25, 2011

Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a milk weed butterfly. It is perhaps the best known of all North American butterflies. Since the 19th century, it has been found in New Zealand, and in Australia since 1871 where it is called the Wanderer. In Europe it is resident in the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Maderia and is found as an occasional migrant in Western Europe. Its wings feature an easily recognizable orange and black pattern, with a wing span of 3 1/2-4 inchs. The Viceroy butterfly has a similar size, color and pattern, but has a extra black stripe across the hind wing. Female Monarch s have a darker veins on their wing, the male Monardhs have a spot in the center of each hind wing and are larger.

The Monarch is famous for its southward migration and northward return in summer from Canada to Mexico and Baja California, which spans the life of three to four generations of this butterfly. The Monarch is the only butterfly that migrates both north and south. Like all insects the Monarch has six legs, however it uses only four of them as it carries its two front legs against its body. The eggs are creamy white and later turn pale yellow. Female Monarch deposit eggs for the next generation during these migrations.

It is sad to know that the Monarchs we see each summer are not the ones that come back. It is the third and fourth generations. How the species manage to return to the same overwintering spots over a gap of several generations ,it is still a subject of research, the flight pattern must be inherited The life span of most Monarchs is two months. Research has also shown that Monarch butterflies can use earth's nagnetic field for orentation. Also Monarch butterflies are one of the few insects capable of making the trans-Atlantic crossings.

Monarch butterflies are poisonous or distasteful to birds and mammals because of the presence of cardiac glycosides that are contained in milkweed consumed by the larva. In the pupa or chyrsalis stage, the caterpillar spins a silk pad on a twig. leaf and etc., and hangs from this pad by its last pair of prolegs. It hangs upside down in the shape of a J and then molts, leaving itself encased in an articulated green exoskeleton. At this stage his hormonal changes occur, leading to the development of a butterfly. It takes two weeks and he comes out and hangs several hours until his wings dry, then off he goes to find food.

Sorry this is so long, but I enjoyed also learning something about my favorite butterfly. I am also sorry to say I have not seen one in my yard this year (have you?).

13 comments:

GARAGE SALE GAL ~ Deb's Earthly Delights said...

Hi maragret,
I do dream in color, sometimes I can fly in my dreams and I remember most of my dreams.
I have seen a few butterflies. We have milkweed for them too.
Take care!
Warmly,
deb :)

kavita said...

Trans Atlantic crossings ...wow ,that is very impressive.Thanks a lot for sharing in details about Monarch butterfly.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

A wonderful informative post Margaret, I love butterflies but can't always distinguish one from another,

Thanks for ccalling by, much appreciated.

Yvonne.

Denise said...

Lovely informative post about the Monarch Margaret, thank you. I found it very interesting. I have a butterfly post too, a photo I took at one of our favorite parks. The last time I saw that a butterfly garden had been planted and wanted to check its progress. I was not disappointed, there were dozens of butterflies to enjoy. Enjoy the rest of your week.

Linda said...

Ahhh - the "Dena" butterflies. You might recall I wrote a story about them before. When I was a little girl, I called all Monarchs by the name of "Dena" and I still think of them as that today. I think perhaps I've seen one in the garden this year, but nothing like last year. I have seen a lot of yellow Swallowtail butterflies though my heart will always be fondest for Dena. :)

Patty said...

That's one thing we haven't seen many of this year. Any kind of butterflies. Our butterfly bushes are blooming now, so perhaps we'll be seeing a few more. They do seem to attract them. Interesting article.

Merle said...

Dear Margaret ~~ Good article about the Monarch butterfly. I have seen lots of these, but not his year as I am not outside much.
I will be glad when I now what is going on with me and my heart. A medication would be
terrific. Glad you liked the pictures and the jokes. Also Regina's list of 45.
Take care my friend, LOve, Merle.

mylifeaintalwaysbeautifulblog said...

WOw I really had no idea. Thanks for sharing. I really liked your post on dreams as well. I have had nightmares for years. Hope you have a great day ;)

Islay said...

Just have to say I stop by occasionally and I always love your posts - keep it up!

romance-of-roses said...

Margaret, love to check in on you cause I never know what you will be posting and it's always so interesting. This post on the butterfly is wonderful.
Blessings go your way...Lu

*Honest Abe said...

Yes, the Monarch we see this summer (and so far we have only seen one) will migrate south and it or its children will end up in Mexico all together. Then they begin the northern journey when the time comes and their great grandchildren will visit my yard once again. I don't know how they know who goes where and when but they do.

Yes, I did a couple of years of research on French MS decoration and wrote a book about it but could not get anyone interested in publishing it.

Kay said...

We used to have Monarch butterflies everywhere, but no more. I don't see any. Someone told me there are some on the other side of the island, but I haven't seen them. It's such a shame. They used to live on all of the crown flower bushes. Not anymore. I wonder if it's because of the non-indigenous birds that have been let loose in Hawaii.

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

I have two butterfly bushes Margaret and we were blessed with two more....total volunteers and one of those came up in a flower box on the deck....fabulous! They are all covered with blooms and butterflies now. Seeing butterflies sure puts a smile on my face. Sometimes when I am out dead heading the butterfly flowers the butterflies will alight on my arm. :) A wonderful thought to carry through the cold winter. xo

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