Monarch Butterfly – (Danaus plexippus)
The Monarch Butterfly may be the most recognizable butterfly in North Amerca. There are over 700 species of butterflies and between 10,000 to 20,000 species of butterflies worldwide. The Monarch has an easily recognizable pattern of orange and black pattern and has a wing span of 3-4 inches. The Monarch is the only butterfly known to migrate thousands of miles from the northern U.S. to the south during spring and fall seasons. There are four generations of monarch butterflies born each year and only the ones born in the migrating seasons of Spring and Fall actually make the long migration during the year. The four stages of butterfly development include 1. Egg, which hatch after 4 days 2, Caterpillar stage during which the Monarch feeds exclusively on milkweed plants. 3. Pupa or Chrysalis stage in which the caterpillar makes a silk casing and hangs upside down on a leaf or twig for about two weeks. 4. Emergence from casing and maturity into adult butterfly. The Monarch has a unique defense mechanism from predators to other insects and birds because their body chemistry is toxic or very distasteful from the milkweed it has eaten during its caterpillar stage. The picture of these two butterflies actually shows a Monarch butterfly with its 4 wings spread next to the side profile of a Queen butterfly. This picture was taken at the butterfly aviary at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.
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