Danaid monarch butterfly: description, character and habitat

Danaid monarch butterfly: description, character and habitat
Danaid monarch butterfly: description, character and habitat

A butterfly sitting on a flower is the personification of beauty and a symbol of life, it is a trusting and reverent creature. One of the most unusual and amazing in the world is the Danaida monarch. In terms of flight distance, she is recognized as a record holder and can overcome the Atlantic Ocean. In the summer, she travels around North America, and always winters in the highlands of Mexico. Tens of millions of butterflies fly there in autumn. This species was first described by Linnaeus K.

Monarch Danaid Butterfly: description

This is a fairly large insect. On the wings of an orange color with a span of up to 10 cm there is a pattern formed by oblong stripes of dark color. The edging is decorated with light small brown-black spots, and one large one is located on each wing. White markings located on the chest and head, as if warning the birds that the insect is inedible.

danaid monarch

The presence of a red color helps to scare away enemies and serveswarning signal. Such an unusual color helps the butterfly hide and be invisible. The brilliance of her wings resembles the reflection of precious metals. Huge eyes with a yellow rim and black pupils scare away enemies. Males have black odorous scales on short hind wings. They are not found in females. The next difference is size: female insects are smaller.

Where do they meet?

Their habitat is the Far East, North Africa, the Hawaiian Islands, the southwest of Great Britain, Europe, that is, all areas of the globe except for places with a cold climate. This is the most famous insect in North America.

monarch butterfly lifestyle

In Bermuda, the danaid monarch lives year-round thanks to a stable, mild and favorable climate for her. In New Zealand and Australia, representatives of this species were discovered in the nineteenth century.


In spring, before migrating from wintering grounds, insects mate. Males attract females with pheromones. Even at a considerable distance, they are able to find a girlfriend. Courtship is carried out in several stages:

  • Aerial, or pursuit. The male pushes the female with his wings and pulls down.
  • Ground. Male insects fertilize the female half with sperm, passing it in a pouch.
butterfly monarch danaid description

About thirty days pass from the moment of laying eggs to an adult. Only in the existence of these amazinginsects, as well as in the way of life of the Monarch Danaid butterfly, a mysterious transformation can be observed. A gluttonous and nondescript caterpillar turns into an exquisite beauty.

The stages of insect development are as follows:

  • Egg, which is laid by the female in spring or summer, of an irregular conical shape, whitish-creamy in color. In rare cases, it is slightly yellowish, weighing about 0.46 mg. The outside is covered with barely noticeable seams and longitudinal ridges, of which there are twenty-three pieces.
  • The caterpillar appears in four days and exists in this form for two weeks. Initially, it feeds on the shell of the egg, and then consumes the leaves. During this period, it accumulates fat and other useful substances necessary for the transition to the next stage.
  • Chrysalis. The caterpillar is wrapped in a leaf and wrapped in it with the help of a special material (silk), then hangs upside down for two weeks. Then she molts, shedding her green shell, and acquires a transparent dark color with red wings.
  • Mature individual. A real butterfly appears. Initially, it is attached to the cocoon for several hours. At this time, the wings are filled with liquid, strengthened, straightened - and the insect is ready to fly.


By nature, the monarch butterfly is an avid traveler. It is known that these insects are the best flyers in the world, whose flights were recorded by Columbus. According to some sources, when moving, they are guided by the sun and the magnetic field of the globe. Migrating, monarch butterflycovers about 5,000 km. It moves to warm regions of the USA from the northern ones, starting in August and until the onset of the first cold weather. Individuals living in the eastern regions, starting in mid-October, are moving to places located in the Mexican state of Michoacán.

monarch butterfly

The life cycle of an insect is not enough for a full flight. The fertilized female retains the eggs during migration. Individuals born at the beginning of summer die in two months and do not have time to overcome the entire path. The last generation of this period enters the diabase reproductive phase, due to which their life expectancy increases to about seven months. At this time, they are able to fly to wintering grounds. Offspring are produced only when they leave these places. The second, third and fourth generations return to the USA, its northern regions, lay their eggs and die. From spring to autumn, five generations live in America and Canada, the last ones also go to Mexico in the fall. How butterflies of the last generation danaid monarch butterflies migrate to a certain place in the mountains of this country remains an unsolved mystery to this day.


Spurge, growing like a weed, is very fond of the caterpillars of these insects. The juice of this poisonous plant is preserved in the adult body, so birds do not exterminate them, which contributes to an increase in the population of butterflies.

character butterflies danaid monarch

By using this herb, the monarch brings great benefits to crops. ATIn general, the insects are quite voracious and enjoy feeding on flower nectar and the following plants:

  • pleural root;
  • motherwort;
  • clover;
  • bodyak;
  • astroy;
  • lilac.

Interesting facts

In some states of America, the monarch danaid is considered an insect-symbol. In the nineties, an attempt was made to nominate her for the title of national symbol, but this venture was unsuccessful.

In some educational institutions, caterpillars are given to students for rearing, and then the adult is released into natural conditions.

In the wintering areas of butterflies, nature reserves are created, which are visited by a large number of tourists.

Danaid is an adornment of collections and is used as an object of study. There is an opinion that she received the name in honor of William III.

According to ancient Greek mythology, the name of the genus Danaus comes from the name of the son of the Egyptian king Danae or his great-granddaughter Danae.

"King William" - as she is called in Canada due to her orange and black color, since the family color of King William III of Orange, who ruled from 1689 to 1702, was orange.

Threats and protections

Currently it is a protected species. Massive deforestation in the wintering areas of insects has led to a significant reduction in their numbers. Crops in the fields where the spurge weed grows are treated with chemicals, which leads to a decrease in the food sources of butterflies.

Monarch butterfly migration

Monarch Danaid is a poisonous species and very unpleasant in taste due to the use of caterpillars in food. Birds and other predators do not eat them in nature, the bright colors of butterflies indicate their inedibility.

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