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Monarch butterfly

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:

Hadley Valley Preserve is former farmland that has been restored to mostly native prairie with some clumps of shrubs and forest. There is a nice size creek bisecting it.

1 Species ID Suggestions

monarch
Danaus plexippus


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jazz.mann
Spotted by
jazz.mann

Joliet, Illinois, United States

Spotted on Aug 7, 2021
Submitted on Aug 22, 2021

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