Butterfly populations are a very good indicator of the health of an area's ecosystem !!
Also known as the Milkweed Butterfly, Common Tiger, Wanderer, or The Black Veined Brown.
There are 2 different variant species of Monarch butterflies living in North America and South America. The Caribbean is host to both species. While the Monarchs are considered indigenous to the Americas, they can also be found in Australia, New Zealand and several islands between Australia and Tahiti. They can also be found in parts of Hawaii and Europe.
Monarch caterpillars are voracious feeders, able to consume a milkweed leaf in less than 5 minutes. During this caterpillar stage, they will gain about 2700 times their original weight , and excrete a tremendous amount of frass (waste).
A black spot on the inside surface of the hind wing indicates a male Monarch, as the female has no such black spot.
Monarchs flap their wings more slowly than any other species, at 300 - 720 beats per minute.
The female of the species lays eggs one at a time, and can lay up to 250 eggs per day.
Monarchs fly at 12 - 25 mph, and will migrate between 2,000 - 3,000 per migration.
(3 generations will live in the U.S. and Canada, and the 4th will migrate to Mexico.)
Monarchs have a life expectancy of 2 - 6 weeks.
* Monarchs are participants in what is known as “Batesan mimicry”. Because the milkweed that they eat as caterpillars makes them poisonous as butterflies to predators, other butterflies such as the Viceroy, which are very similar in appearance, benefit from predators’ reluctance to eat them.
Avg. Wingspan: 7 - 10 cm / 3 - 4 "
Diet: caterpillars take milkweed exclusively. (This makes them toxic to predators.)
Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta, Order: Lepidoptera