A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife
3 1/2 to 4 inch wingspan. Body black with white spots. Wings orange framed with black patterning. White spotting on black at wing edges. Males look the same, but may be identified by black scent patches on rear of wings. Comparison photos may be seen at Wikipedia. Juveniles are striped in white, yellow, and black. Two black "antennae" (body extensions, not true antennae protrude from either end of the caterpillar.
These large butterflies roost in trees, and migrate hundreds (sometimes thousands) of miles. Due to migration, they have been found on most continents. These were photographed in the South Coast Botanical Gardens, one of many California locations where milkweed has been planted specifically to help propagate the species.
A "milkweed butterfly" these animals lay eggs exclusively on milkweed. The Caterpillars eat the milkweed leaves, and become poisonous (for consumption) themselves. Their warning coloration is not simply for display, and toxicity continues through to adulthood.
Spotted on Oct 30, 2014
Submitted on Oct 31, 2014