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Monarch butterfly (on Joe-Pye weed or Bonesets)

Danaus plexippus

Description:

The monarch butterfly or simply monarch (Danaus plexippus) is a milkweed butterfly (subfamily Danainae) in the family Nymphalidae. Other common names, depending on region, include milkweed, common tiger, wanderer, and black veined brown. It may be the most familiar North American butterfly, and is considered an iconic pollinator species. Its wings feature an easily recognizable black, orange, and white pattern, with a wingspan of 8.9–10.2 cm (3+1⁄2–4 in) A Müllerian mimic, the viceroy butterfly, is similar in color and pattern, but is markedly smaller and has an extra black stripe across each hindwing. The eastern North American monarch population is notable for its annual southward late-summer/autumn migration from the northern and central United States and southern Canada to Florida and Mexico. During the fall migration, monarchs cover thousands of miles, with a corresponding multi-generational return north. The western North American population of monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains often migrates to sites in southern California but has been found in overwintering Mexican sites as well. The monarch's wingspan ranges from 8.9 to 10.2 centimetres (3.5–4.0 in). The upper sides of the wings are tawny orange, the veins and margins are black, and there are two series of small white spots in the margins. Monarch forewings also have a few orange spots near their tips. Wing undersides are similar, but the tips of forewings and hindwings are yellow brown instead of tawny orange and the white spots are larger. The shape and color of the wings change at the beginning of the migration and appear redder and more elongated than later migrants. Wings size and shape differ between migratory and non-migratory monarchs. Monarchs from eastern North America have larger and more angular forewings than those in the western population. Monarchs are commonly and easily mistaken for the similar viceroy butterfly – the two species are Müllerian mimics. Monarch flight has been described as "slow and sailing", with a flight speed estimated at approximately 9 km/h or 5.5 mph. For comparison, the average human jogs at a rate of 9.7–12.9 km/h (6–8 mph). Adults are sexually dimorphic. Males are slightly larger than females and have a black patch or spot of androconial scales on each hindwing (in some butterflies, these patches disperse pheromones, but are not known to do so in monarchs). The male's black wing veins are lighter and narrower than those of females.

Habitat:

West Ridge Nature Park in the heart of Chicago's northside, about a mile west of Lake Michigan, contains approximately 20 acres of woodland, wetland, and lagoon habitat. This natural area offers meandering pathways, boardwalks, and fishing areas. In 2015, the Chicago Park District and City of Chicago dedicated Park #568 which is now known as West Ridge Nature Park. The 21-acre site lies at the northwest corner of Rosehill Cemetery. One of Chicago’s oldest burial grounds, Rosehill Cemetery was dedicated in 1859. Landscape gardener William Saunders, a national leader in the Rural Cemetery Movement, created Rosehill Cemetery’s original design which included curving drives, swaths of lawn, and several water features. Through the cemetery’s history, the area at the northwest corner included a pond. Until its recent conversion to parkland, however, the 21-acre site remained an undeveloped part of the cemetery that had never been used for burials. That heavily wooded corner had been used as a dumping ground for excess dirt and debris. After acquiring the site in 2011, the Chicago Park District hired Hitchcock Design Group to create a plan that combines ecological restoration goals with park enhancements. The improvements include a multi-purpose trail that loops throughout the park, boardwalks that cross over environmentally sensitive areas, removal of invasive plants, and the addition of more than 500 native trees and shrubs.

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jazz.mann
Spotted by
jazz.mann

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Spotted on Aug 1, 2021
Submitted on Aug 16, 2021

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