Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Danaus plexippus (Linnaeus)
Orig. Comb: Papilio plexippus Linnaeus 1758
ADULT: large, with conspicuous black veins on orange wings.
Monarchs often show a distinctive gliding flight with their wings held tilted upward in a dihedral (V shape).
Males have scent-scale patches on hindwings, prominent when wings are open, and just possible to see when wings are folded.
LARVA: entire length has alternating black, white, and yellow bands; front and hind ends have a pair of long black filaments projecting diagonally upward
Much of temperate North America into tropics and northern South America. Also some islands in Pacific, Australia (introduced). Highly migratory.
Open areas with flowers, hostplants
March through fall in North America; all year in tropics.
Adults take nectar from a variety of flowers.
The caterpillars feed on plants in the Milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae [or Apocynaceae in part]), primarily Milkweeds (Asclepias), but also other genera including Calotropis, Cynanchum, Gonolobus, Sarcostemma, etc.
egg to 1st instar:
development of the pupa:
female vs male:
chrysalis to adult:
pupae that failed to develop properly:
- Zelus renardii
- so. US to OR
- Stiretrus anchorago
(F.) - Range: e US;
- Picromerus bidens
(L.) - ne NA
The monarch butterfly has been placed on the IUCN Red List as an endangered species, as reported on 21 July 2022
Members of the public often mistake the unrelated Viceroy
(below) for a Monarch, but the Viceroy is much smaller and has a black band across the hindwing.
comparison of Monarch(1) and Viceroy(2) hindwings:
The related Queen
lacks black veins on the forewing and has darker/browner wings, and the Soldier
has darker/browner wings.
Ba, R., K. Oberhauser, M.A. Quinn. 2003. 2010. Milkweed, Monarchs and More: A Field Guide to the Invertebrate Community in the Milkweed Patch. Bas Relief Publishing Group, 96 pp. (1)
Koch, R.L., R.C. Venette, and W.D. Hutchison. 2005. Influence of alternate prey on predation of monarch butterfly (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) larvae by the multicolored Asian lady beetle (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) Environmental Entomology. 34(2): 410-416.
Oberhauser, K.S., and M.J. Solensky (Editors). 2004. The Monarch Butterfly: Biology and Conservation. Cornell University Press, Ithaca. 256 pp.
Texas Monarch Watch
- Mike Quinn, 2017
Southwest Monarch Study
(map & data for some AZ recoveries)