Monarch  Butterfly
   
Danaus  plexippus
   
KING  BILLY
(in Canada - after English King William of Orange, whose colors were orange and black)
   
    SCIENTIFIC  CLASSIFICATION

    KINGDOM :              Animal              
    SUB KINGDOM :     Metazoa            
    PHYLUM :                Arthropoda      
    SUB PHYLUM :       Invertebrata     
    CLASS :                   Insecta             
    ORDER :                  Lepidoptera     
    SUPER FAMILY :    Papilionoidea    
    FAMILY :                  Nymphalidae      
    GENUS :                  Danaus                 
    SPECIES :               plexippus

    **********************************************************************************************************************
    to learn about SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION ..
    go to ..
    LINNAEUS SYSTEM OF CLASSIFICATION page
 
" I, the Lord their God, will save them. "
Hosea 1:7

    HELPFUL  INFORMATION


    butterflies are distributed all over very different areas of the world
    tropical rain forests
    deciduous forests
    alpine forests
    prairies
    wetlands
    deserts
    mountains
    coastal regions

    butterflies are insects
    butterflies are invertebrates
    butterflies are cold-blooded

    LARGEST  BUTTERFLY  IN  WORLD
    Queen Alexandra's Birdwing  - Ornithoptera alexandrae
    11" wingspread
    lives in Papua New Guinea

    ONE OF SMALLEST BUTTERFLIES IN WORLD
    Western Pygmy Blue
    3/8" wingspread
    lives in North America

    it is believed that there are 10 million different species of animals in the world
    scientists have named 1.75 million animals
    more than 1 million of those animals are insects
    insects are the most numerous animals on Earth
    7,000 - 8,000 new species are discovered each year

    all butterflies and all moths belong to a group or order of insect animals called Lepidoptera
    the word Lepidoptera is a combination of two Greek words
    lepis - which means scale
    and
    pteron - which means wing

    there are more than 165,000 known species of butterflies and moths  !!!
    20,000 species of butterfly
    145,000 species of moth

    there are particular physical differences that determine which animals are butterflies
    and which animals are moths

    BUTTERFLIES ..
    fly by day
    bright colors
    club tip antennae
    rest with wings up .. perpendicular to body
    non hairy bodies
    wings do not hook together for flight

    MOTHS ..
    fly by night
    drab colors
    thin tip antennae
    rest with wings flat
    hairy bodies
    front and hind wings hook together for flight

    all butterflies are organized into families
    SKIPPERS
    BLUES .. COPPERS .. HAIRSTREAKS
    BRUSH FOOTEDS
    SULPHURS .. WHITES
    METALMARKS
    SATYRS .. WOOD NYMPHS
    SWALLOWTAILS
    SNOUTS
    MILKWEEDS

    MILKWEED BUTTERFLIES
    are large
    are slow flying
    most are orange and brown
    have very short front legs
    have black veined wings
    have black margins with white spots

    there are 200 species of milkweed butterfly throughout the world

    some species live in Africa and Asia
    their colors are
    blue
    violet
    white
    with brown markings

    4 species live in North America
    only 2 species are common
    MONARCH BUTTERFLY
    QUEEN BUTTERFLY

    each species of butterfly caterpillar has special specific food plants that may be different from
    the flowers that butterfly adults need to feed on

    all milkweed butterfly caterpillars need milkweed plants to eat
 
 

    BIOLOGY
    physical characteristics
    ADULT

    adult monarch butterfly is called an IMAGO

    COLOR
    bright orange with black veins
    black to dark brown border margins  (margins are the outer edge of wings)
    2 rows of orange and or white spots on borders
    head and body black with white spots

    ORANGE AND BLACK COLOR IS A DANGER WARNING TO PREDATORS
    the color pattern tells predators that the monarch is poisonous !

    SIZE
    weight - .02 of one ounce
    ( tiny bit more than one single tiny downy feather of a bird )

    SHAPE
    like most insects the body has 3 distinct main divisions
    head  thorax  abdomen

    HEAD  
    BRAIN
    about size of small seed

    EYES
    2 large compound eyes
    1 on each side of head
    compound eyes are really many many thousands of simple eye lenses called ocelli clustered together
    to provide tremendous amount of information about surroundings
    each provides a separate image to the brain
    the brain combines the separate images into 1 complete image
    simultaneously can see
    up - down - forward - backward
    ALL AT THE SAME TIME                                                      ~~~  WOW !!!  ~~~
    AMAZING VISION !  can see all the colors
    red
    orange
    yellow
    green
    blue
    violet
    plus ultraviolet
    and ALL THE COLORS MIXED WITH EACH OTHER
    and ALL THE COLORS MIXED WITH ULTRAVIOLET

    Butterflies have the most developed and complete color vision of ALL animals  !!!


    MOUTH / MOUTHPARTS
    LIPS AND JAWS
    the upper lip is a single plate called the LABRUM
    the lower lip is a single plate called the LABIUM

    a pair of upper jaw with serrated edges called mandibles
    no lower jaw in adult .. instead have PROBISCIS
    coiled tongue-like drinking tube
    probiscis is used to ingest  (eat)  nectar and pollen

    ANTENNAE
    2 antennae on top of head
    antennae (long slender sensory organs of .. smell ..  touch .. hearing)

    NECK
    has tiny tiny neck that connects head to thorax


    THORAX
    is middle section of butterfly body
    where heart legs wings are located

    LEGS
    3 pairs jointed legs = 6 legs in total
    each leg - 5 segments with joints in between
    this arrangement allows for movement in all directions
    at end of each leg - pair of claws
    claws for gripping

    legs not strong - can only walk short distance
    front legs very short
    have front brushy padded feet
    the feet pads highly developed sensory taste organs
    these organs are used by females to help with search to find the right milkweeds to host their eggs

    female can determine if  plant will be a good place to lay eggs .. tap the leaves with front feet
    tiny hairs pierce the leaves .. tiny bit juice is then tested ..
    monarch butterfly does a chemical analysis to determine if the plant is a milkweed         
    wow !!

    WINGS
    located on thorax - 2 pairs wings = 4 wings in total
    pair fore wings
    pair hind wings
    each has upper surface called dorsal surface
    each has lower surface called ventral surface
    outer area of wing called margin
    inner area of wing called basal area
    stiff at front edges
    stiff at basal areas  (area where wing connects to the body)
    all 4 wings have dark veins
    veins circulate blood .. but are mostly filled with air to help support wings

    need body temperature to be 86 degrees to fly
    milkweeds have small bodies and big wings
    excellent gliders - can fly long long distances because of great ability to glide

    wings are of chitin
    chitin covered with tiny scales
    scales are powdery
    scales are flat and overlap
    some have pigment
    some are iridescent
    make color by reflecting light
    shiny metallic colors are reflected colors

    MALES have small black scent patch on each hind wing

    scales do not repair or regenerate
    wings do not repair or regenerate
    when they migrate to MEXICO their wings become tattered and worn and frayed


    ABDOMEN
    5 main systems
    mostly REPRODUCTIVE system organs
    digestive system organs & waste elimination system organs
    circulatory system organs
    blood is yellow green or no color at all
    respiratory systems organs
    oxygen enters body through SPIRACLES - tiny openings along sides of body
    nervous system organs
    brain and nerve cords
    internal systems

    SKIN
    the monarch's entire body is covered with a shell-like skin
    the outer covering of the skin is called the cuticle
    the cuticle outer layers have a great amount of chitin within them
    the presence of chitin is what creates the external skeleton or exoskeleton
    chitin is a nitrogen rich protein material that is ..
    tough
    flexible
    lightweight
    waterproof

    rather tough body able to withstand a bite that occasionally a predator will inflict
    to test if monarch is suitable prey
 
 

    LIFESPAN

    LIFESPAN OF THE MULTIPLE SUMMER LIVING GENERATIONS  
    3 - 4  WEEKS

    LIFESPAN OF THE SINGLE FALL AND WINTER LIVING GENERATION
    UP TO 9  MONTHS

    THE LAST GENERATION OF THE YEAR LIVE A VERY VERY VERY LONG TIME FOR INSECTS
 

    WHERE  IN  THE  WORLD

    monarch butterfly originally lived ONLY in North America
    in last 130 years have spread to other parts of world

    North America
    eastern Canada to western Canada to southern Canada
    all through United States
    south through all of Mexico and Central America

    Philippines
    Indonesia
    Hawaii
    Australia
    New Zealand

    scientists believe monarch butterflies have traveled to these other geographic locations
    by hanging onto ship riggings
 

    WHERE  IN  THE  WORLD
    MIGRATION

    MONARCH BUTTERFLIES ARE THE ONLY TRUE MIGRATORY BUTTERFLY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD  !!!
    monarch butterflies fly south to warmer places
    huge groups go together

    monarch butterflies in northeastern North America and mid-western United States ..
    migrate south for winter
    to Oyamel fir tree forests in central Mexico
    there are only 12 groves of fir trees in Mexico where these monarch butterflies go to  !!!

    monarch butterflies in western North America ..
    only 5% of all monarch butterflies are in the far west of North America
    migrate south and west for winter
    to pine tree and eucalyptus forests on the California coast

    monarch butterflies in the Pacific Ocean islands ..
    do not migrate from these year round warm climates


    MIGRATION
    the journey made twice a year between
    a summer breeding area where food is plentiful
    and
    a wintering area with a warmer climate

    in autumn begin to fly south or west in groups
    join more groups
    and before long are flying THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS together  !

    IN AUTUMN OF EVERY YEAR  
    MONARCH BUTTERFLIES in northeastern NORTH AMERICA
    migrate  2,500  MILES     !
    start ..    northeastern NORTH AMERICA
    finish ..  small areas of forest in MEXICO

    every autumn brand new monarch butterflies migrate
    to a place they have never been to   !!!!!

    at night they rest in trees
    these trees look like they became giant orange flowers

    the migration trip south takes about 10 weeks

    in spring these SAME monarch butterflies start the return trip to the North


    50,000,000 - 100,000,000 monarch butterflies from eastern North America
    fly south to MICHOACAN in central Mexico

    up to 15,000,000 winter in Mexico

    winter roosting temperature is just above freezing
    if too cold they will die
    if too warm they will wake up and expend valuable energy

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    5,000,000 monarch butterflies from western North America migrate to Pacific Grove California
    2,000,000 cover branches of pine trees on 6 acres

    the town of Pacific Grove is so proud of the monarch butterflies that they have a city ordinance ..
    " IT IS THE DUTY OF EVERY CITIZEN TO PROTECT THE BUTTERFLIES "

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    when migrating travel 80 miles a day

    can fly 11 miles per hour

    fly 16 - 17 feet above ground

    fly in clouds also

    fly up to 1,000 feet high

    feed as they travel - gain weight

    FOLLOW MAP WHOSE WAYS ARE UNKNOWN TO HUMANS   ! ! !

    ----------------------------------------------
    in MEXICO
    to mountains - south facing slopes - to specific fir trees - and - to specific individual trees - EVERY YEAR

    when arrive - hibernate - go into diapause - like suspended animation - do not move

    lower amounts of sunlight in winter cause their bodies to produce glycols  
    similar to antifreeze
    allow them to winter over and not freeze in lower temperatures
    in spring as weather warms up - blood components return to normal

    MULTI-GENERATIONAL MIGRATION
    there are at least 3 generations of monarch butterflies required in order to complete the annual migration

    the last generation of monarch butterflies for the year are born in the northern parts of their range towards
    the end of summer

    the last generation of monarch butterflies born for each year .. LIVE A VERY LONG TIME  !
    this generation of monarch butterflies lives up to 9 months !
    they need time ..
    to fly all the way from Canada to Mexico
    to overwinter in Mexico
    to mate in the spring
    to start journey back towards the northern edge of their range

    this group is not solitary
    (as their parents were )
    and
    (as spring hatchlings were)

    this group travels huddled together
    roost at night together

    on way south they do not reproduce
    just move south
    feed on milkweed nectar and other plant nectar

    monarch butterflies go as far north as the milkweed plants live
    and also as far north as they can stand the cold

    monarch butterflies cannot live through extreme cold

    Mexico and California are just cold enough above freezing in winter
    to keep monarch butterflies metabolism low enough for semi-hibernation

    they cluster together on fir and pine tree branches in bunches of 1 million (1,000,000) or more in each cluster

    they have water
    they have protection from snow and wind

    arrive Mexico in November
    December January practically immobile - hanging in clumps in trees
    February March start to get warmer and wakes them
    stay until late March

    females and males find a mate
    start to fly to North and to East
    then they look for milkweed plants

    STOP AT SAME REST SPOTS on way north and on way south  !

    the females that overwintered lay their eggs and live for about one more month

    1st GENERATION OF EACH YEAR
    when those first eggs hatch and grow into monarch butterflies .. they continue on the trip north
    they are the first generation of the year
    they mate
    lay eggs
    they live about 1 month after lay their eggs

    2nd GENERATION OF EACH YEAR
    then the next generation hatches (they are the 2nd generation)
    they repeat the same process as the first generation
    mate .. lay eggs and live about 1 month after that

    3rd GENERATION  &  4th GENERATION
    then comes 3rd generation ..
    and maybe a 4th generation..
    one of these is the last generation of the summer
    they arrive at the northern edge of their species range and the range of the milkweed plants

    this last generation of the summer  
    lay eggs ..
    monarchs that hatch pupate and emerge in late summer and early autumn
    are different to the earlier generations
    when in larva and chrysalis .. shorter days .. cooler temperatures ..
    produce adult males and females who are reproductively immature

    at first cold weather
    ALL will start to move SOUTH
    to a PLACE THEY HAVE NEVER KNOWN   !!!

    NAVIGATIONAL FACTS
    navigate using sun
    use thermal updrafts to glide and soar
    use wind in their favor
    if not in their favor .. fly close close close to the ground or wait until travel conditions are better
    use visual landmarks
    if cloudy .. use internal magnetic compass - tiny bits magnetite in thorax
    use Earth's magnetic fields as navigational aid


ALL THE AMAZING THINGS GOD PUT IN PLACE FOR THE AMAZING BUTTERFLIES TO USE TO TRAVEL ! ! !
  WOODCARVING  
PHOTOGRAPHS      
6 inches tall
 
   
 
  WOODCARVING
PHOTOGRAPHS
3 inches long
   
 
  ANIMAL PHOTOGRAPHS
 
   
 
   
 


SEE
THE BEAUTY
IN GOD's CREATION



BIRDS PRAY .. TREES PRAY .. FLOWERS PRAY .. MOUNTAINS PRAY
THE WINDS PRAY AND RAIN PRAY
RIVERS AND THE LITTLE INSECTS AS WELL
WE HEAR THEM
THE WHOLE EARTH IS A CONSTANT PRAYER
AND WE CAN JOIN WITH THIS GREAT PRAYER
Paul Goble




THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE
WHO BELIEVE IN GOD

THE EARTH IS SO BEAUTIFUL
LOOK
and
YOU WILL SEE
 
" our eyes look to the Lord our God "
Psalm 123:2
 

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