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The monarch is one of the best known butterfly species. Although native to North and South America, it has expanded its distribution to Australia, many Pacific islands, and a few places in Europe. Monarch larvae feed on milkweeds of the family Asclepiadaceae, from which they sequester cardiac glycosides that often render them unpalatable to potential predators. The species is perhaps best known for its annual migrations, from eastern North America to the mountains of central Mexico, and from western North America to the coast of California. The butterflies rest for the cool winter months in large aggregations which may contain tens of millions of individuals.
Monarch butterflies prefer warmer climates; they cannot tolerate frost. They like open country. Females spend much of their time around searching for or staying near the main food plant for the caterpillars.
This monarch was spotted right after it emerged from its chrysalis. Its wings are small until they are filled with fluids.