The Monarch Butterfly is loved and
admired for their beauty and courage
The mighty Monarch Butterfly spends
the summer here in North America. Then, they migrate to Mexico or Southern
California for the cold months.
A few live in Southern California,
Texas and Florida all year long.
They also live in the Mediterranean
area, Indonesia, Australia, Hawaii and some Pacific Islands.
the monarch butterfly
The Monarch's orange wings have
black veins and black edges with two rows of white dots.
The fore-wing is a little brighter
orange than their hind-wings.
This is especially noticeable on the
underside of their wings.
Males have an enlarged spot their
hind wings containing a scent pouch. The scent pouch is lacking on the females.
The female's veins are a little bit
thicker and her wing-span is slightly smaller than the male's.
Monarch butterflies taste bad because
of a chemical their caterpillars eat from the butterfly weed.
Other butterflies mimic Monarchs so
birds think they taste bad and won't eat them.
The Viceroy Butterflies look very
similar to Monarchs.
But notice the heavy black band
across their hind-wings?
The Monarch is lacking these heavy
The Viceroy is also about an inch
smaller than the Monarch.
The Queen Butterfly is another
butterfly, also mistaken for a Monarch.
The topside of the Queen is lacking
The underside of the Queen looks
very similar to the Monarch.
But the Queen Butterfly has white
spots out in the middle of its fore-wings.
The Monarch migration has made them
a favorite butterfly of many people.
They have never been where they are
going. Their grandparents or ancestors flew there, but they have never been
How do they know where they are
going? This is one of the very interesting Monarch butterflies facts scientists
have been trying to answer.
Some scientists think the Monarch
butterflies sense the magnetic field in the earth.
Monarchs migrate every year up to
Monarchs fly south down to Florida
or the Texas gulf coast and then out across the Gulf to Mexico. Many also fly
from California to Mexico.
Amazing! What courageous beauties!
How can a little butterfly go 2,000
miles? How can they do it?
Who taught them? More about Butterflies
overwintering in Mexico
Monarchs in Mexico for the winter
Members of their family sat on these
very same trees in previous years.
They go right back to the same area
where their ancestors have over-wintered in previous generations.
By mid-November the fir trees in the
area where they overwinter are covered with them.
They are relatively inactive during
the winter. They hang together in large clusters on the trees.
In early spring they will start
feeding, breed and produce a new generation.
Then about mid-March the new
generation will start back north.
How awesome is that!
They fly north into the southern
When they get there they lay eggs
and produce another generation.
The eggs hatch and the new
generation keeps flying north.
In the fall, between August to
October, they start heading back south.
It is the third or fourth generation
since they left Mexico.
monarch butterfly life cycle
Monarchs are amazing to
start with for the way they can migrate thousands of miles every year.
Butterfly metamorphosis is more
amazing. How can a caterpillar change into a beautiful butterfly? It must be
Butterflies mate and then the female
lays her eggs.
A female butterfly may lay several
hundred eggs during her lifetime.
She lays her eggs on the host plant
the caterpillar will eat for food.
She generally lays them on the
underside of leaves to help protect them from predators.
And the Monarch Butterfly life cycle
where does the monarch lay her eggs?
Monarchs lay eggs on Milkweed.
Monarchs lay their eggs on butterfly
When the eggs hatch the caterpillar
feeds on the milkweeds.
The glycoside chemical in milkweeds
make Monarch Butterflies toxic and taste bad to predators.
Plant one of the more than 100
varieties of milkweeds to feed the Monarch caterpillars.
The Monarch Butterflies will come to
feed from the flowers and lay eggs on butterfly milkweed, so include them in
Also, include plenty of fall
blooming flowers for butterflies, such as Asters and Mexican Sunflowers to feed
the Monarchs that are migrating south for the winter.
Butterflies bring so much joy to our
the mighty Monarch Butterfly to your yard.
Plant Butterfly Flowers
of the butterfly life cycle
Starting with the butterfly eggs,
the caterpillar and pupa, the butterfly chrysalis and then the butterfly is
Butterfly eggs are tiny and
sometimes they have designs on them.
The eggs may be various colors
white, cream, tan, etc.
It all depends on the type of butterfly.
You can attract butterflies to your
garden by planting the host plants caterpillars like to eat.
A pretty caterpillar
In a few days the eggs hatch into
lava, commonly known as a caterpillar. It eats its egg shell and then eats and
Caterpillars don’t have a skeleton
like we do. They have a hard shell on the outside of their body.
They have like armored plates with a
softer flesh connecting the plates together. It’s called an exoskeleton and it
does not grow.
Caterpillars have a voracious
appetite. They are eating machines. It only stops eating when it outgrows its
When its body grows too big for its
exoskeleton, it will stop eating to shed its skin, its exoskeleton. Then it
will keep eating and shed its skin several times, as it grows larger.
A great way to attract butterflies
is to provide the host plants that the caterpillars like to feed on. Include some
caterpillar host plants in your
The Monarch caterpillar gorges
itself for a couple of weeks. When the caterpillar gets to full size it meta-morphs
into a pupa.
Monarch caterpillar forming into a pupa
When it grows to about two inches,
it attaches its hind end to a branch with some silk.
It then sheds its skin and reveals a
soft butterfly pupa on the inside.
In a few hours the butterfly pupa
hardens into what is called the butterfly chrysalis.
Then in ten to fourteen, days
depending on the temperature, God works His wonders for Monarchs.
Some butterflies may take weeks or
longer in this stage.
Monarch forming inside the chrysalis
One of the most interesting facts
about the Monarch Butterfly life cycle, is how the butterfly forms inside the
It is a special gift and only God
knows how it works.
The butterfly chrysalis becomes
transparent and you see the butterfly forming on the inside.
When the butterfly emerges from its
chrysalis, its body is very large and full of fluid.
The butterfly comes out head first.
The wings are small.
Monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis
The new butterfly hangs onto the
chrysalis shell for a while and starts pumping fluid from its body into its
The wings expand, as the fluid goes
into them. After the wings are fully expanded they are still wet.
The butterfly hangs there for an
hour or two until its wings dry. Then the new butterfly takes flight.
wonder of it all! You have a brand new Monarch!
Adult Monarch ready for life
It has gone from a caterpillar to a
butterfly, thus completing its metamorphosis.
Most butterflies live only a few weeks.
Migrating Monarch will live for several months.
The adults will mate and lay eggs
and the Monarch Butterfly life cycle goes around again.
an amazing God gift to behold!