Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) The Monarch butterfly is a colorful butterfly with orange and black wings with white spots on the end of its’ wings. I saw and photographed this Monarch in a group of wild flowers on a bush in my neighborhood. The Monarch feeds exclusively in it’s larval stage on the milkweed plant. The milkweed plant gives the butterfly its distinctive colors and also a poisonous chemical mixture in its body that protects it from predators. The Monarchs can be seen all over the United States and Mexico and the ones living in the western part of  the U.S. are famous for their 3,000 mile journey from the northern part of the U.S. to Mexico and Southern California during winter. It will not be able to fly if it’s body temperature drops below 86 degrees and will find a warm sunny place to warm up before they continue flying. The Monarch can produce 4 generations of offspring during their lives. The first three generations live only 2-6 weeks and they mate producing a fourth generation which can live up to 9 months. These insects and other species of wildlife are threatened by the loss of habitat caused by human and natural disruptions of their living areas. The Mexican government has stepped up to protect the Monarch by establishing a 217 square mile reserve in the Sierra Madres Mountains to protect their habitat, called the Monarch Biosphere Reserve.  I found some useful information about the Monarch Butterfly  at the Defenders of Wildlife website and the National Geographic website. click on image for larger picture

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