Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
Primary food plants: Larvae feed on species of milkweeds, many of which contain toxins that are stored in the bodies of the caterpillars and later in the adult butterflies. These poisons are distasteful to many predators. Adult butterflies also feed on milkweeds, when available, and also on a variety of flowers, including dogbane, lilac, red clover, lantana, thistles, and composites, such as goldenrods.
Wingspan: 3 3/8 - 4 7/8 in. (8.6 - 12.4 cm)
Season: Four to six broods in south; these butterflies participate in mass migrations.
Description: The upper surfaces of the wings of males are bright orange with wide, black borders. Veins are also black, and a patch of scent scales are located on the hindwings. The upper sides of the forewings and hindwings of females are orangish-brown with wide, black borders and black veins, as well. White spots are located on the borders and at the apex of the wings of both sexes. Notice the bright 'warning coloration' of adults, which advertises to potential predators that adult butterflies may be distasteful. Images of male (left photo) and female (right photo) monarch butterflies were contributed by Dr. Jim Edson of the University of Arkansas at Monticello.