monarch

(Danaus plexippus)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

monarch

NatureServe

N5B - Secure Breeding, N2N3N - Imperiled to Vulnerable Nonbreeding

S5B - Secure Breeding

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common and widespread

Flight/Season

Three or four overlapping gennerations:
Mid-May to late October

Habitat

Fields, meadows, weedy areas, marshes, roadsides, and other open areas.

Size

3 to 4¼ wingspan

Photo by Bill Reynolds

Identification

This is a large, widely recognized, migratory butterfly. It has a wingspan of 3 to 4¼. The male is slightly larger than the female.

The upperside of both wings is orange with heavy black veins. The veins of the male are thinner and well defined and, while those of the female are thicker blurred.

The subapical area of the forewing has four small, pale orange spots and a small white or pale orange spot. They are arranged as two short lines of spots. The outer margin has a broad, black border with two submarginal rows of white spots. The leading edge (costal) margin has a broad, black border with five white spots near the middle. The inner margin has a broad black border on with no spots. There is no V-shaped indentation on the leading edge of the forewing cell.

The upper side of the hindwing has a broad, black border on the outer margin with two rows of white spots. There is no curved, black postmedian line. On males there is a small, black, oval, scent patch on a vein near the center of the hindwing.

The underside of both wings is similarly marked but the hindwing and the tip of the forewing are pale orange.

Seen from above, the body is black with four white spots and a short, thin, white vertical stripe on the thorax; and a thin, interrupted, white band separating each abdominal segment. The head, seen from above, is black, with a band of four white spots near the “neck” and a single white spot between the antennae bases. The spots on the thorax, with three of the head spots, form an inverted V shape. The eyes and legs are black.

The caterpillar is up to 2 long, uniquely colored, and easily recognized. The thorax and abdomen are boldly banded in yellow, black, and white. The head is banded in yellow and black. There is a pair of long, black, fleshy, whip-like tentacles (filaments) extending from the upper (dorsal) surface of the second thoracic segment and a a similar but shorter pair extending from the eighth abdominal segment. The prolegs are black with a single, large, white spot.

Mature caterpillars are found from about June 20th to the end of August.

 
Similar
Species

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) is smaller, with a wingspan of no more than 3¼. There is a single row of white spots in the black border on the outer margin and a single row of 2 to 4 white spots in the subapical area. There is a curved, black, postmedian line on the hindwing.


Larval Food

Leaves and flowers of milkweed (Asclepias spp.). The caterpillar stores cardiac glycosides, present in all milkweeds, in its body. This makes the caterpillar and adult poisonous and unpalatable to potential predators.

 
Adult Food

Flower nectar

 
Life Cycle

The male patrols in search of receptive females. After mating, the female lays green eggs singly on the underside of host plant leaves. The larva molts four times before pupating. Mature caterpillars of the first brood are found beginning about June 20th. They pupate by July. Mature caterpillars of the second brood appear by August 15th. They pupate by the end of August.

 
Behavior

Adults have a powerful flight and often sail with their wings held in a V-formation.

 
Migration

In September, adults of the third or fourth generation of the eastern population of Monarchs begin congregating in large numbers on the foliage of trees and shrubs near water. By the end of October they have left the state in a mass migration to their winter grounds. They arrive at one of thirteen small overwintering sites in the Sierra Madre mountains between 43 and 105 miles west of Mexico City, Mexico. The following spring the same butterflies begin a northward migration. They lay eggs that will become the first generation in northern Mexico and southern United States between late March and late April. First generation monarchs begin to arrive in Minnesota around mid-May.

Northward migrating butterflies arrive in Minnesota around mid-May. They are of a more recent (first) generation, rarely if ever the same individuals (third or fourth generation) that migrated south.


Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 7, 20, 21, 24, 29, 71.

Comments

Subspecies
There are several subspecies of Monarch in Central America that do not migrate. Danaus plexippus plexippus is the only subspecies found outside of Central America.

 
Phenology

First sighting of season

       
 

 

5/29/2016, Kasota Prairie

5/31/2015, Cedar Mountain SNA

5/24/2014, Lost Valley Prairie SNA

6/10/2013, Des Moines River SNA

5/9/2012, Avon Hills Forest SNA

6/1/2011, Cannon Wilderness Area

6/9/2010, Lebanon Hills Regional Park


Links

The University of Minnesota Monarch Lab


Taxonomy

Order:

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)

 

Suborder:

Glossata

 

Infraorder:

Neolepidoptera

 

Parvorder:

Heteroneura

 

No Rank:

Ditrysia

 

No Rank:

Obtectomera

 

Superfamily:

Papilionoidea (butterflies [excluding skippers])

 

Family:

Nymphalidae (brush-foots)

 

Subfamily:

Danainae (monarchs)

 

Tribe:

Danaini (milkweed butterflies)

 

Subtribe:

Danaina

 

Genus:

Danaus

 

Subgenus:

Danaus

 
Subordinate Taxa

monarch (Danaus plexippus leucogyne)

monarch (Danaus plexippus megalippe)

monarch (Danaus plexippus nigrippus)

monarch (Danaus plexippus plexippus)

monarch (Danaus plexippus portoricensis)

monarch (Danaus plexippus tobagi)

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

monarch

monarch butterfly


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

filament

On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.

 

proleg

A fleshy structure on the abdomen of some insect larvae that functions as a leg, but lacks the five segments of a true insect leg.

 

pupa

The life stage of some insects undergoing transformation. In caterpillars, the chrysalis.

       

Visitor Photos

   
Share your photo of this insect.

Trisha


Monarch Butterfly

  monarch   monarch

Robert Briggs


Monarch butterfly at Spring Lake Park Reserve on October 29th. It seems awfully late in the season to be seeing these.

  monarch    

Wayne Rasmussen


  monarch    
       

Joy Park summer wildflowers and insects are available for viewing

  monarch    
       

Monarchs can be found all over Minnesota. The first was found in rural Dodge County and the other in Maplewood on the Bruentrop Historical Site. Our home and Maplewood Hts Park was once part of the Bruentrop farm.

  monarch   monarch

Bill Reynolds


There is a pretty good sized Bull Thistle patch near where I live that the bees and butterflies are working pretty hard.

  monarch    
       

This is a Monarch caterpillar on Common Milkweed.

  monarch    

Tom Baker


  monarch   monarch
       
  monarch   monarch

       
       

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos

   

Adult

  monarch   monarch
       
  monarch   monarch
       
  monarch   monarch
       

Caterpillar

  monarch   monarch
       

 

Camera

     

Slideshows

   
  Monarch Metamorphosis
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Monarch Metamorphosis  
     
  Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
Bill Keim
 
  Monarch (Danaus plexippus)  
     
  Danaus plexippus (Monarch)
Allen Chartier
 
  Danaus plexippus (Monarch)  
     
  Monarch Butterfly Emerges
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
 
  Monarch Butterfly Emerges  
 
About

Chrissy found a Monarch butterfly chrysalis in our backyard on 10/17/14. We took it into our home for a better chance at survival. A male Monarch butterfly emerged from this chrysalis and was released by us on 10/28/14. Every photo is in sequence chronologically. This was a gut-wrenchingly beautiful experience that we are so grateful to have witnessed - and participated in. We are so grateful to the BugGuide community on Facebook for holding our hands through this.

 
     
  Monarch
jt893x
 
  Monarch  

 

slideshow

     

Visitor Videos

   
Share your video of this insect.

     
     

Other Videos

 
  Documentary 2014 The Incredible Story of the Monarch Butterfly Four Wings and a Prayer
Discovery Channel
 
   
 
About

Published on Feb 9, 2014

No description available.

 
     
  Monarch Butterflies Migration Google Earth Tour
Encyclopedia of Life
 
   
 
About

Published on Apr 26, 2013

A story about the migration of the eastern population of monarch butterflies in North America, and the people that help them out along the way.

This Google Earth Tour was produced by Atlantic Public Media ( http:// www.atlantic.org) in cooperation with the Encyclopedia of Life (http:// www.eol.org) Learning + Education group located at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Producers: Eduardo Garcia-Milagros & Ari Daniel Shapiro

Download the Google Earth Tour KMZ file:
http://podcast.eol.org/sites/default/files/Monarch_Butterflies_Tour.kmz

[taxonomy:binomial=Danaus plexippus]
[taxonomy:class=Insecta]

 
     
  Complete Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly
dscottprod
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on May 23, 2008

The entire lifecycle of the Monarch butterfly from a tiny caterpillar hatching from an egg on a Milkweed leaf through metamorphosis to become a glorious adult butterfly. Filmed utilizing high powered microscopic cameras and time-lapse photography. Produced for the Chicago Nature Museum in Chicago, IL.

 
     
  Why fewer monarch butterflies are surviving their winter migration to Mexico
PBS NewsHour
 
   
 
About

Published on Dec 24, 2013

View more on Monarch butterflies. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/environment/july-dec13/monarch_12-24.html

Monarch butterflies migrate to warmer regions each winter, but in recent years Mexico has seen far fewer monarch arrivals. Environmental changes have eliminated the butterflies' sources of food and shelter along the way. Independent video journalist Ross Velton reports on efforts to help monarchs survive their journey south.

 
     
  Monarch Butterflies
National Geographic
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Dec 31, 2008

The monarch butterfly's wintering grounds in Mexico are in peril. Are the monarchs in trouble too?

See All National Geographic Videos http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/?source=4001

 
     

 

Camcorder

         

Visitor Sightings

   
Share your sighting of this insect.

Trisha
12/6/2016

Monarch Butterfly

monarch


Robert Briggs
10/29/2016

Location: Spring Lake Park Reserve

It seems awfully late in the season to be seeing these.

monarch


Wayne Rasmussen
7/29/2016

Location: Joy Park

monarch


Wayne Rasmussen
7/20/2016

Location: Joy Park

Joy Park summer wildflowers and insects are available for viewing

monarch


Wayne Rasmussen
8/10/2014

Location: Dodge County

Monarchs can be found all over Minnesota. The first was found in rural Dodge County and the other in Maplewood on the Bruentrop Historical Site. Our home and Maplewood Hts Park was once part of the Bruentrop farm.

monarch


Bill Reynolds
9/5/2015

Location: Pennington Co.

There is a pretty good sized Bull Thistle patch near where I live that the bees and butterflies are working pretty hard.

monarch


Bill Reynolds
6/21/2012

Location: Pennington Co.

This is a Monarch caterpillar on Common Milkweed.

monarch


Tom Baker
9/3/2011

 

monarch


Tom Baker
7/12/2010

 

monarch


     
     
 

MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings

   

Afton State Park

Agassiz Dunes SNA

Anna Gronseth Prairie

Avon Hills Forest SNA
North Unit

Badoura Jack Pine Forest SNA

Baker Park Reserve

Big Stone Lake State Park

Blaine Preserve SNA

Blanket Flower Prairie SNA

Blazing Star Prairie

Blue Devil Valley SNA

Blue Mounds State Park

Bonanza Prairie SNA

Boot Lake SNA

Buffalo River State Park

Bunker Hills Regional Park

Butternut Valley Prairie SNA

Camden State Park

Cannon River Wilderness Area

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Mountain SNA

Cedar Rock SNA

Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA

Chippewa Prairie

Clinton Prairie SNA

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crow Wing State Park

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Des Moines River SNA

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Englund Ecotone SNA

Felton Prairie SNA
Bicentennial Unit
Shrike Unit

Flandrau State Park

Fort Ridgely State Park

French Regional Park

Frontenac State Park

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glendalough State Park

Glynn Prairie SNA

Gneiss Outcrops SNA

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Hayes Lake State Park

Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie

Holthe Prairie SNA

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Joseph A. Tauer Prairie SNA

Kasota Prairie

Kasota Prairie SNA

Kellogg-Weaver Dunes SNA
Kellogg-Weaver Unit

Kilen Woods State Park

La Salle Lake SNA

Lake Carlos State Park

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Lake Louise State Park

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Leif Mountain

Liable Woods

Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Lundblad Prairie SNA

Malmberg Prairie SNA

Maplewood State Park

Margherita Preserve-Audubon Prairie

McKnight Prairie

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Miller Prairie
West Unit

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley NWR
Louisville Swamp Unit
Rapids Lake Unit
Wilkie Unit

Mound Prairie SNA

Mound Spring Prairie SNA

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Myre-Big Island State Park

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR
Touch the Sky Prairie Unit

Old Mill State Park

Ordway Prairie

Oronoco Prairie SNA

Osmundson Prairie SNA

Ottawa Bluffs

Ottertail Prairie SNA

Pembina Trail Preserve SNA
Crookston Prairie Unit

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Pine Bend Bluffs SNA

Plover Prairie
East Unit

Prairie Coteau SNA

Prairie Smoke Dunes SNA

Racine Prairie SNA

Red Rock Prairie

Regal Meadow

Rice Lake Savanna SNA

Rice Lake State Park

Richard M. & Mathilde Rice Elliott SNA

Ripley Esker SNA

River Terrace Prairie SNA

Rock Ridge Prairie SNA

Roscoe Prairie SNA

St. Croix Savanna SNA

Santee Prairie SNA

Savage Fen SNA

Savanna Portage State Park

Schaefer Prairie

Sedan Brook Prairie SNA

Sheepberry Fen

Shooting Star Prairie SNA

Sibley State Park

Split Rock Creek State Park

Spring Lake Park Reserve

Spring Prairie Preserve

Strandness Prairie

Swedes Forest, Homme-Kollin Unit SNA

Town Hall Prairie

Twin Lakes SNA

Two Rivers Aspen Prairie Parkland SNA

Tympanuchus Prairie

Uncas Dunes SNA

Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Verlyn Marth Memorial Prairie SNA

Wahpeton Prairie WMA

Western Prairie SNA

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Wild Indigo Prairie SNA

William O’Brien State Park

Yellow Bank Hills SNA

Zimmerman Prairie


 

 

Binoculars

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